For writing this book, he traversed the length and breadth of this vast country visiting Naxal infested areas and regions riven by caste and communal conflicts. I wonder if an Indian had said the same things that Tully is saying would those views be given the same importance? I fear not, I feel that our brown skinned selves would still give more credence to a white man.
Tully also mentions the Tatas and how they have spread their wings under the liberalized regime. Like all Indians, I have long been an admirer of the Tata conglomerate, but I would be lying if I said that my respect for them has not been dented by the Nira Radia tapes and their misplaced munificence in Raja’s constituency. I know that I am going off on a tangent here, but hey what the hell, I needed to get this off my chest!
Regarding Tully’s views on where India is currently positioned, is it a superpower in the making or is it jumping headlong into becoming a failed state, I would say that we are at a rather critical juncture. We are in no way a superpower now, but can we become one in the near or even distant future? If I were to wear my realist’s hat, I would say the chances were between 20-25%.
China is so far ahead of us in all spheres that catching up would be well nigh impossible. Unless China implodes due to its inherent contradictions or the US engineers a Taiwan-China conflict to safeguard its position as the sole superpower, or the Muslim underbelly of China raises its secessionist head I don’t see any reason for China not surpassing the US in the coming 20-25 years or even faster if the US economy continues to falter. The second half of the Twenty First century may well turn out to be a Chinese one and we can kick ourselves for not making the best of the opportunities on offer; if we had we would have been where China is currently positioned.
Is our democracy a boon or a curse or is it both? I would tend towards both. Totalitarian regimes are brutal and we had a very brief glimpse of this during the Emergency years. All middle class Indians dream of a benevolent autocratic regime, we pray for a Lee Kuan Yew, but the chances of getting a Hitler or Mussolini are much more than getting a Lee. Our democracy has become a mobocracy where the mob rules, the intelligentsia have confined themselves to their ivory towers and the burgeoning middle class while moaning about everything under the sun is too busy and pseudo-elitist to even vote. Politicians have learned that appeasing the illiterate downtrodden masses is the easiest way to come to power and they have refined this into an art form.
So are we a failed state or are we in danger of becoming one in the near future? The way we are throwing up fractured mandates, the way Naxalism is spreading (Red Corridor), the ugly scenes in Parliament and Assemblies where no business is transacted and only walkouts or adjournments are the order of the day leads any sane person to believe that unless corrective measures are taken and that too expeditiously we are headed in that direction.
Like all patriotic Indians I would hope that emphasis would be placed on taking care of the needs of its citizens primarily in the health and education sectors and in employment generation. Make haste steadily and surely should be our guiding principle and yeah we might not become a superpower, but our people will at least eat one square meal a day!