Is India Union of States?

Viewing India as union of states or provinces has fed into rationale for partition and sedition and has caused untold misery. In addition, it has led to parochial mind-set which undermines unity of nation and ill-treatment of sections of people local or otherwise. It did not make sense as nation pre-existed the states/provinces/kingdoms by millennia. India is not union of states. Rather India is the state. The states are nothing but administrative provinces. The idea of linguistic states is all the more troubling.Languages do not define people, as people have moved from place to place and adopted new languages. It has pitted languages against one another. People rather choose English than any one of Indian languages as official language. Commonality of languages is sought to be undermined. Vocal minorities force their veto on the nation. All languages should be respected. People should take pride in learning more Indian languages, instead of being dogmatic and parochial about languages.

In any case our much-acclaimed federal system has not delivered spectacularly. They have failed to develop districts by passing down power. Most states have skewed development and it is districts which have cultural coherence. The states that are vocal about imposition from center hardly hesitate to impose on districts and dominate sub-regions. Most of development has been top-down undermining decentralization and community initiative which made large empires viable as early as 300 BC.

What is India then?

We have lot of conflicts because people are not clear about this. Is India a piece of land? Is India defined by religion or ethnicity? India is a civilizational tree which has branched out far and wide. Afghanistan, Balochistan to all of current India and Bangladesh had Hindu history. Iran is Aryan civilization. The sociologists who studied Indian villages have opined that while each village is self-contained to some degree, the villages are far too interconnected with other districts, states at time far and away. Hinduism as well as other native religions have formed a common binding thread for the whole nation.  We at times suddenly discover the commonality of practices and beliefs say between Tamilnadu and Bengal or Kerala and Gujarat. In fact Indian religions spread all the way to Indonesia and if we go to Vedic pre-vedic period it spans to Ireland on the west. Ireland-Iran-India-Indonesia had common religious beliefs.

Can India be only called Bha(a)rath?

If Ceylon can become Sri Lanka and Burma Myanmar, why India can’t be known by one name i.e. Bharath? Bharath has a physical definition. It is a country surrounded by 3 seas and it is a land to the south of Himalayas. This is defined in Vishnu Purana. Bharath is like tree with branches in the form of states, districts, towns, territories and villages. It is a seamless nation.

What does Bha(a)rath stand for?

Bharath is due to king Bharath – who represented nobility and scholarship – a king who became Rishi – to whom several verses of Veda are attributed. So Bharath is about Dharma and a shared value system – it is not about DNA nor about diversity. It is about respect for this collective tradition and culture. Anybody who relates to this value system naturally belongs. Soul of Bharath is the commitment to Dharma that enables society to progress with some inherent order where all approach life with a sense of duty and emphasis on correct action. Bharath is not defined by looks, language, diversity or cultural artefacts. It is defined by a set of values that are in sync with our civilization. So, respect for local tradition, values and culture with openness to evolve them with time is an important enabler for Bharath. We need to get the notion of Dharma back in our national discourse. We need to lay down list of values Bharath should celebrate. Some candidates are fairness, honesty, hard work and hope. These values go along with respect to environment and respect to all living forms. We need to bring back focus on simplicity, Saadhana (perseverance with determination, patience and discipline) and Tapasya (constant contemplation about higher things in life).

What happens to Secularism?

Whenever there is a talk about doing away with secular tag, pat comes the comment that India will become Hindu Pakistan. Those who say that choose to ignore thousands of years of history of Hindu Kingdoms. Kautilya’s Arthashastra even today provides a template for good governance. Kautilya in his treatise Arthashastra elaborated the traits of the King of a well governed state thus: “in the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness, in their welfare his welfare, whatever pleases himself, he does not consider good, but whatever pleases his subjects he considers as good”.

What is wrong with the status quo?

  1. Understating India’s Past:People ask why every advance originates in the West and not in India. Even when Indians contribute they do more when they work in USA, UK or Europe. India was a thought-leader since Vedic times. Recognized and respected highly even by Chinese civilization. Now we have a colonial mind-set. We have to be two steps behind UK or USA. By underplaying Bharath, we have acquired collective amnesia of past achievements of India in ancient and medieval times. We have an opportunity to promote a unified Indic medium of education and refocus on our culture, languages, traditions as well as reacquire ability to decipher the know-how embedded in our own scriptures and literary sources. There should be a single curricular framework nation-wide with no differential treatment of English and Indic mediums without rural/urban divide.
  2. Interest of Hindus: The interest of Hindus seems to be mortgaged to look good to others. Otherwise how can one explain lawyers falling over each other for illegal Rohingya migrants, but not even lifting a finger about rights of Kashmiri Pandits or Hindus refugees from Pakistan. Nobody talks about plight of Hindus in Islamic countries in neighborhood. These countries have seen sustained reduction in their population, attacks on temples, kidnappings and forced conversions. If we all are essentially same people, why cannot all the member countries in the SAARC adopt secularism? Only with shared value systems we can find way forward. Why India alone is singled out? Even within India attacks on Hindus and Hinduism continue to happen. Islamization is conquering district after district in West Bengal pushing Hindus out. Traditional Indian culture had made protection of cows and brahmins mainstay of Kings. Modern India celebrates slaughter of cows and forced migration of brahmins through constant discrimination. The successive Congress Governments gave carte blanche to missionaries to convert large sections of Hindus all over India. They overlooked illegal migration as well as conversion to Islam on some pretext or other. Hinduism being a non-missionary religion became an easy target. India since 10th Century AD or even earlier got attacked physically as well as culturally. The latter has left a deeper wound resulting in partition of India and attempts to set up Islamic state in Kashmir etc. India has been victim of conversions and destruction of religion – body and soul. India should pass a law to retrieve all structures which were built by destroying temples, whatever form they may be now and another law to retrospectively ban all conversions out of Hinduism/Native Religions/Cultures.  Finally, we should protect our interest and not asymmetric situation where Hinduism gets targeted by predatory religions whether it is Islam or Christianity. To keep it simple, slaughter of all kinds of cattle should be banned.
  3. Vote-bank Politics and Fractious Polity: Our democracy seems to begin and end with election. All the policies seem to target vote banks even when they are unsustainable.  The idea has been to make people dependent and rob them of initiative. Instead the focus should be providing access to facilities and opportunities. Real democracy starts after the election.  We need Government to be citizen-centric. Today people’s opinions are seldom sought in crafting the development agenda. The projects are started without any consultation with citizens. The priorities are skewed to suit the beneficiaries of contract kickback model or middlemen. Current polity and society have become very fractious. We have successfully pitted communities against one another. The quotas have become dog-fights. The unity of Hindus and nation is undermined through these quota-wars.  There is constant clamour to label communities as non-Hindu to get minority status. Where minorities actually suffer and don’t even have right to life, they hardly get protection such as Kashmir valley or villages in Bengal. In addition, we have a divide between India and Bharath. Elitist India that constantly looks outside is at odds with Bhaarth where tradition is to look within. India unfortunately conveys the notion of a soft state. New India should overcome that.
  4. Distortions in the Constitution: We need to remove all the distortions in our constitution. Anything that is at odds with the principle of treating all manners of people alike needs to go. There should be absolutely no labeling of communities as minority and majority. All communities should have equal rights to set up institutions for education or worship. In addition, article 370, article 35A, personal laws and any kind of special exemptions should go. All of India should belong to all Indians, where everybody is free to settle anywhere without any restriction. Castes which were amorphous became codified during British times and after independence they have become instruments of governance and politics. Castes should be seen as yet another identity which maintain sub-cultures through endogamy and let castes coalesce on their own as people move around and cultures unify and converge. Instead of fighting them or exploiting them let us work with them.
  5. Dysfunctional Police-Legal System: Our police-legal system is nothing but disaster. It takes too long to get justice if at all, costs too much. In several cases accused have got death faster than closure. The judiciary has been whimsical and inconsistent and at times even corrupt. They try to do the job of the Government by neglecting their own job.
  6. Freebies, Subsidies and Dole: Over the years a culture of decadence has crept in. Giving freebies to influence voters, vote for note culture, contract-kickback model, etc. Numerous schemes such as PDS, MGNREGA should be rationalized and involvement of Government should be minimal.  We have to move out of artificial and administered prices to economic prices by increasing competition and coopeartion. India probably has the worst roads among countries with similar GDP.24*7 power is still a luxury and Government is yet to be citizen centric.
  7.  Forgotten Middle Classes and Common Man: Successive Governments also pampered the poor and humoured the rich. India ranks the fifth in the world on NPAs. State Government after State Government doles out freebies and subsidiedss to all and sundry for wide-ranging goods and services.This has led to society forget the middle-class values of honesty where any debt is seen as sacred obligation to pay back. It is only one class of people who get taxed and penalized, while others get away. We need a new value system that promote fairness. Neither mindless socialism nor aggressive play of markets has helped India. The policies should be fair to all. We need to use our communities as strength and have policies that ask from contribution from all classes of people. Today we either put undue burden on the state, expecting it to do everything or let the market through businesses do the function. This has caused a split in the middle in sector after sector. You either have a choice of Corporate Hospital which you cannot afford or Government Hospital that is ill-equipped. Nether the market forces through fair competition makes health-care affordable nor welfare state is capable enough. We need the middle path.

What should we change?

  1. Change Legal  System: We should reengineer processes of Governance and law to make then simple and lean with focus on productivity, quality and innovation. We have borrowed constitution and legal systems, after that we have let lot of distortions come in and allowed decadence to set in. The Government bows down to pressure groups and vote banks. But common man is at the mercy of God. Whether it is Government, businesses or other agencies all of them are strong against the weak and weak against the strong.  Mahatma Gandhi propounded the concept of “Su-raj”. As per him “Good governance” has the following eight attributes, which link it to its Citizens: 1) Accountable 2) Transparent 3) Responsive 4) Equitable and inclusive 5) Effective & Efficient 6) Follows the rule of law 7) Participatory and 8) Consensus oriented. If the Government lives up-to ideals propounded by him, we may not need anything else. Replace current legal system with one that is simpler and leaner, where the focus is on effective outcomes. Free up the system from colonial practices and come up with what works in India. Let law not be an end in itself.Replace constitution with one that is aligned with our own ethos which is far simpler and direct without much caveats and confusion.
  2. Protect and promote Hinduism: Any system of education or preaching which teaches hatred of Hindus and disrespect or indifference to nation should be stopped. All conversions out of Dharmic religion should be banned even retrospectively if needed. India should champion promotion and propagation of Dharmic Religion basically promoting native religions, traditions and cultures which were outplaced by predatory religions. In that sense India should find common cause with Jews who suffered a lot since last two millennia. There should be primacy to native traditions, religions and cultures. That means protection of native religions, tribal cultures and practices and even among the converted adoption of local cultures, names and civilizational values should be encouraged and external influence should be minimal. They should feel the pain of compatriots instead of relishing it and relating to the pain of people in other countries when they don’t care about Hindus in India. Things like Haj subsidy which increases the distance between Indian should be stropped. Adoption of regressive practices should be highly discouraged. Our laws should be based on civil code that is rooted in local ethos and values and not that of Sharia or West. Bharath should take a leading role in preserving, protecting and promoting Dharmic religions, native religions, cultures that got displaced by Christianity and Islam. We should be open and proactive in encouraging people to adopt Dharmic Religions. We should facilitate those who want to revert. We should block further outflow by banning conversions out of Dharmic religions on any pretext. This should be seen as a correction for last 1500 years of onslaught and seven decades of wrong policy after independence. Cattle slaughter should be banned nation-wide. To make the economics viable, organic farming should be embraced big time.
  3. Unity First  Approach : All the five pillars of democracy have let down people as well as nation. To promote their misplaced ideals, they have given short-shrift to India’s interest and interest of Hindus. Under these circumstances India needs genuine unity much more. We have patted ourselves on the back about diversity for too long, let us stand for the unity of the nation. Hinduism gets attacked for caste system and idol worship. As if west did not have slavery and racism. Even middle eastern countries are still wedded to medieval value systems. When nobody knows the truth how is worshiping non-idol makes it better? How single God becomes the better truth or only truth?
  4. Teach Our History Right & come up with unified Indic Curriculum: History of India has been taught very selectively. Even as far as freedom struggle goes contribution of Subhash Chandra Bose’s INA, INA trial by British which in turn led to Naval Mutiny that forced to leave British is not taught at all. History should be taught about the whole civilization from India to Iran. Hindu History of Afghanistan, Baluchistan should be taught as well. Also, latest state of knowledge on ancient India, topics about Aryans and now discredited theories should be taught. The role of Vijayanagara, Maratha, Chola and Ahom, so many empires should get the rightful place. The Delhi-centric chronicle of invasions should be replaced with a balanced one that includes how invasions were resisted and kind of agony these conquests caused.Teach students about advances in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math advances which were there starting from ancient India. Promote quality learning of Sanskrit to achieve this. Come up with a unified curriculum for the whole of India which promotes Indic medium on equal footing with English medium. Develop job opportunities for people who are well-versed with Indic studies or educated in Indic medium. Make the employment landscape broad-based than counting on 2-3 avenues where everybody wants to be part of.
  5. Find Alternatives to divisive quotas: Do away with divisive quotas and come up with alternate mechanisms that improve economic viability of every profession. Promote dignity of labour and use mechanization to avoid hazardous and unpleasant tasks. Make use of scholarships and improve schooling system. Make schooling broad-based to cover as many professions as possible. Focus on fundamentals and approach education with sense of purpose in building depth and differentiation. Make education complete by covering aspects of character and professionalism along with proficiency. Focus on social mobility and economic mobility. Even in education sector focus on mobility, improvement and evolution through mentoring. Deemphasize regulation and ranking.
  6. Do away with the concept of minorities: Let all communities have equal rights and ability start their own educational and religious institutions subject to certain safeguards and checks and balances. Promote education based on community goodwill and philanthropy as a counter to self-financed institutions. Open up education to companies, industry associations, corporates and Foreign entrants.
  7. Move away from Socialism:Do away with socialist underpinnings of policies where you attempt to punish the rich and sinners. The whole policy framework whether it is taxation, auctions or contracts should be based on the concept of fairness. Neither socialism nor excessive competition serves the nation in a sustainable manner. Let fairness be the guiding light.
  8. Have  a movement using Lean Sigma to boost Productivity and Competitiveness:Have a movement to boost productivity and earnings at individual, institutional and national level. Let productivity improvement and employment generation be a movement. Arrive at district based development model, where each district drives its own destiny, by collecting revenue and tapping as many local sources, seeking co-operation of all to make the district a model district with support from state, center and NITI Aayog. Let districts compete.
  9. Focus on common citizen:Focus on common citizen and take every complaint and suggestion of common man seriously using technology and appropriate work culture among officials. Corruption and negligence should be severely punished. Pass a law on right to response which includes whistle-blowers. The Government should come up with Right to Response law. The officials treat the complaints in grievance portal with disdain, at state level complaints are ignored. There may be vulnerable people even among the rich such as widows and badly treated executives even among best of the companies. Change the prevailing culture where we live with things that don’t work, don’t look good and violate laws instead of taking them seriously. Many common citizens suffer because their employers do not treat them fairly. The Government should come up with “Right to Justice at Work” that covers all section of employees not just the labour class. In many cases white collar workers including CEOs have their share of trauma. Many citizens suffer because we do not apply the concept of vicarious liability on organizations. Mobile App based cab companies to hospitals to financial institutions to schools get away when incidents happen hurting their customers.
  10. Transform Agriculture: Transform agriculture by focusing on trading and markets. Do away with complex scheme of subsides.
  11. Assertive Foreign Policy: Change foreign policy that is based on legacy positions of appeasement and India’s projection as a soft state. Demand reciprocity. It simply does not make sense for India to support Palestine when it provides a template and process to forcibly create Islamic states. Repeated articulation of faulty narrative on Jammu and Kashmir in media in India and overseas by vested interests needs to get challenged by Government of India.
  12. Manage Media and Civil Society better:Cancel licenses of NGOs such as Personal law boards that keeps India backward. Make any kind of Fatwas punishable.Any media outlet or journalist who supports terrorism or endorses terrorism by calling them as fighters where it affects India’s interest adversely should not be allowed to operate. Same things should happen to institutions like Amnesty, Human rights watch who are silent on sufferings of Hindus and attacks on security forces.
  13. Clean-up Electoral system: Free up electoral system from the influence of bribing voters through direct payments and freebies. Loan waivers should be clear no-no. Any involvement should be targeted to prevent suicides by managing risks in systemic manner. Those who take money to vote should lose their voter Ids.
  14. Look at Dharma as a unifying concept for ethics and excellence If you go by Dharma doing your job very well itself becomes part of your personal ethics. We need to promote that anywhere and everywhere.