A fragmented nation

The Constitution of India is based on the idea of citizens' rights and the sanctity of the Rule of Law. Any citizen has the right of free expression and free speech. People can disagree and argue but they should not be permitted to intimidate their fellow citizens. Governments have to deliver law and order. Instead, what we have is abject surrender by governments to mob rule, be it some Rama Sena beating up young women who want to frequent pubs in Bangalore, a Christian Church in Mangalore, or Jats demanding backward status and ripping up rail tracks plus many others.

This rot began with a faulty definition of secularism. It should have meant indifference to all religions on part of the state. This was how Nehru interpreted and practised it. But beginning with Indira Gandhi, secularism came to mean seeking the Muslim vote bank exclusively for Congress and maligning all other parties especially Jan Sangh (as it then was) as communal. Muslims sadly did not gain much from this favour as the Sachar Report showed. They were trapped into backwardness but had to admire the leaders going to Iftar parties. Their backwardness was necessary for their secular political masters to keep them dependent on favours in return for votes.

A second problem was the development model followed by Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Socialism meant jobs for the highly educated, upper caste people. Formal legislation protected the rights of a tiny minority in the organised sector. The masses in the informal sector stayed poorly paid, if lucky to get employed. The penny dropped that if you wanted good jobs, the route was not education but politics. Capture power and earn patronage. So once the Congress hegemony was smashed in 1989, Mandalisation gave plenty of OBCs along with SC/STs the right to babu jobs. This right could only be maintained by having strong casteist parties (secular of course!) and maintain some hold on power.

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