Tag Archives: India
India is a miracle. For all its diversity and problems, the country survives and even prospers to some extent.
But these problems do not go away. They are great, and in some ways getting greater.
There are good reasons why the country has more poor than all of sub-Saharan Africa, and more hungry and illiterate people than any other country despite two decades of rapid growth.
Historian Ramachandra Guha lists ten political and social challenges (in order of importance) that India has to deal with:
- Left wing extremism (the Naxalism)
- religious extremism
- corrupt central government
- decline of public institutions
- growing gap between the rich and the poor
- environment degradation
- political fragmentation of the Indian electoral system
- unreconciled borders
- unstable neighborhood
- apathy of the media
India’s medley of languages, religions, castes, and classes are all are obstacles to a common identity. But after six decades, there is little doubt that a common identity does exist in the “new India”, even if it is always being contested by one narrower identity or the other.
On the one hand, that seems incongruous with the emergence of local control. At the same moment India is watering down local identities and creating a national one, it seems odd that they also are enhancing the control of local authorities. Or at least starting to do so.
But in a continent-wide federation, national identity is almost a requirement. Secession becomes much less likely when identity no longer conforms directly with geography. The rights of minorities — religious, ethnic, economic— can be less easily cast aside. So it just may be that India is now comfortable enough with a national identity that it is allowing local voices to flourish. . . .
[But] strong state governments [contribute to] . . . productive city and state political systems. States are the laboratories of democracy. And they groom national leaders . . .
India is now experimenting with [decentralization] . . . Fearing secession, oppression and civil war, Nehru built a very strong and authoritative central state. Now, after six decades of mosaics and cultural melting, the question is not whether to empower states. The question is how, when, and over what issues should authority be returned to Indian states and cities.