prides itself with a several thousand years civilisation that
nurtured high spirituality, deep insights about environmental
issues, sensitive planning systems such a vastu shastra, creative
art forms, and a scientific temper. We credit ourselves with the
invention of the zero and numerals 1 to 10 that replaced the clumsy
Roman numerals in the West.
Since ages, India nurtured a
self-reliant egalitarian society. Such a value enriched societal
structure emerged because of India’s democratic ethos symbolised in
Ram Rajya, the just rule of the epic monarch, Ram. According to
Indian scriptures, every village coordinated by the district should
be a self-sustaining tiny republic. The village parliament
consisting of all adult men and women, controls all village
resources and decision making such as administration of justice,
police, education, healthcare, land, water systems and forests.
Women were thus franchised in India for four thousand years whereas
they got enfranchised in the West only in this century. It elected a
council for day to day work, usually for a year, and could remove a
councillor any time for misconduct.
The state could demand only
one-sixth of local revenues for higher level functions and
coordination, but could not interfere in local matters. If a king
demanded more, it was the duty (dharma) of every citizen to
remove him, if necessary, by force. Thus, the village parliament
drew authority from the dharmashastras, not from the ruler. Ram
nurtured an empire of such true democracy from Kashmir to Sri Lanka
through love, using force against a truant ruler, only if it became
Over India’s long
civilisation, some aberrations crept in its social structures.
Castes originally based on profession, similar to the Smiths and
Carpenters of the West, got converted into those based on birth, and
one got demeaned as untouchable. Some exploitative customs also
crept in. The Muslim rule brought in some social conflicts but did
not dislodge India’s tiny republics, though it somewhat increased
the tax on Hindus. The East India Company too did not dislodge them.
One of its Governor Generals, Sir Charles Metcalfe, observed in his
minute of 1932 that he dreaded everything that had a tendency to
British imperialism brought
all village common property such as land, water systems and forests
under state control through the district collector thereby depriving
local communities of all their authority. On attaining independence,
the Indian leadership adopted a Constitution based on exploitative
imperial practises. This has led to all round social, environmental,
economic and political degeneration.
Today, ours is a decaying
culture. All round social and
degradation, pervasive corruption and self-seeking politics have
become the norm. Our forests are depleted, water systems polluted.
Asia’s largest illegal colonies have been built in India. Over half
the urban populations lives in slums. They are migrants from rural
settlement that are often worse then urban slums. The capacity of
the state to deal with recurring draughts and floods is eroded.
Starvation deaths have become frequent. Because of pressure on land
for human needs, wild life habitats are deeply eroded.
We adopted a faulty model of
centralised planning and a controlled economy. Facing bankruptcy, we
are now drifting from pseudo socialism to pseudo capitalism that
fosters vulgar wealth alongside abject poverty. We are now almost
entirely dependent upon foreign loans and direct investments to
repay past debts and invest in so called "development". Violence is
on the increase. Military expenditure and kickbacks on military
purchases are also on the increase. There is darkness at the end of
the tunnel. Unless …
Unless we are prepared to
accept the truth. Today, very few are willing to speak the truth.
Even fewer are willing to listen about it. The truth is that our
society is structured on an exploitative political system —
centralised, non-transparent, bureaucratised. On top of it, we
adopted the fundamentally faulty Westminster system. Gandhi and his
true democracy in which power flows upward from the people, were
We now have two options. We
either wait for the deluge — pervasive violence, anarchy and
balkanisation. Or, replace the present exploitative system by true
The day of reckoning is not