M D Nalapat
Unlike more conservative societies such as Saudi Arabia, which prize uniformity and discourage diversity, India prides itself on its mosaic of faiths and peoples. The food, dress and attitudes in an eastern state such as West Bengal is very different from that in the northern state of Rajasthan. The first has had a Communist government in power since the 1960s,while the latter still respects the Maharajas whose kingdoms were taken over in 1947 and who - despite having signed a binding covenant with the Government of India at the time – were deprived of their titles and much of their wealth in 1969 by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, to whom the only law that mattered was her personal whims.
Even nearby states are very different. Maharashtra (where Mumbai is situated) is one of the most poorly administered states in India, where even the police are more likely to side with lawbreakers than with law-abiders. This was on international display less than two years ago, when a few scruffy youngsters held the city to ransom for three days after having come ashore from Karachi. The reaction of the Mumbai police (except for a very few instances of personal courage) would have made Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther fame look serious. That it took more than 72 hours to clear them away from just three buildings revealed the sorry state of preparedness of Mumbai against a terror attack, in contrast to Pakistan, where action against desperados has been swifter. In contrast, the next-door state of Gujarat has a super-efficient government that ensures one of the highest rates of economic growth in India.