Friday, 28 December 2012

India’s brown colonials (PO)

M D Nalapat
Friday, December 28, 2012 - Although hosannas are daily sung in his name by boosters of the Nehru family,led by Nobel Prizeman Amartya Sen and including numerous historians and commentators who have benefitted from state largesse in one form or the other, the reality is that India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was insistent that the British colonial state should continue seamlessly into the future. He retained the entire system of colonial law andprocedure, as well as the administrative service.

Indeed, rather than subtracting from the powers assumed by the British colonial masters of India, this authority was added on to during the time of Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi,who took over huge tracts of private property in the name of the state controlled by them,besides - in the case of the latter - breaking a solemn covenant that the Government of India had entered into with the Princes in 1947-48,that of respecting their titles and other privileges in exchange for the royal families surrendering sovereignity over their kingdoms. Indira Gandhi had contempt for the people of India, and this extended to the Princes,many of whom she sent to jail. The Maharani of Jaipur, Gayatri Devi, was for instance tossed into a cell together with prostitutes, “to teach her a lesson”, as was the Maharani of Gwalior. Of course,the males in the Gwalior family at least understood the new reality, with the son of the Maharani becoming an enthusiastic supporter of the Nehru dynasty,as is his son,who is now a member of the Manmohan Singh Council of Ministers. The ladies of the Gwalior royal family,however, remained true to the traditions of the Maharani,remaining within the opposition to this date.

In essence,although advertised globally as a democracy,the reality is that India is still a colonial state, where the government enjoys vast powers over the lives of each citizen.So dense is the system of British-era law (and their post-1947 additions) that it is a simple matter to send any citizen to jail. Just as the British colonials used to ensure that there was always a distance between themselves and the native population,today’s Native Colonials do the same.

Take the example of the de facto ruler of India,Sonia Gandhi. Whenever she or her family travels out of the country or into it,special treatment is given that is very different from the discomfort endured by ordinary citizens. When Sonia Gandhi travels by car within Delhi,there are more than a dozen vehicles in the convoy,while traffic gets blocked for miles as a consequence. Naturally,the example of the UPA Chairperson is followed by her minions as well.They each ensure that their lifestyles and their activities get conducted in a manner which indicates their exalted status,complete with flashing red lights and police sirens. The complete separation between Rulers and Ruled in India is of course never mentioned by the Court Historians and Court Boosters of the Nehru family

Although Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao (who was so disliked by Sonia Gandhi that in 2004 she made his coffin wait outside on the pavement rather than allow it to enter the Congress HQ) sought to reduce some of the colonial-era blanket of laws, since 2004,the Manmohan Singh government has brought back the excesses of the Nehru period.Laws and procedures have been tightened so as to ensure that any official can find some excuse to harass any citizen. In several such activities,the police are the accomplices.India’s police still function in accordance with the 1862 Police Act passed by the British. No “democratic” government since 1947 has ever bothered to change this colonial-era system,by which those in uniform are given life and death power over innocent citizens.

The insensitivity of Official India can be gauged from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s reaction to the assault on a 23-year old girl by six goons in Delhi two weeks ago. For five days he refused to say anything about the incident.Then, finally, he appeared on national televisionreading from a prepared text with a wooden expression.Among his gems was the boast that he understood the girl’s pain “because I have three daughters”. Those who ran the death camps at Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen also had daughters,many of them. Many of those who assault women and girls have daughters themselves. To say,as the Prime Minister and his Home Minister did,that because they have daughters they are better sensitized to crimes against women,is to talk nonsense.

Yet so ingrained is the belief in Official India that the ordinary citizen is an idiot,that such vapid outpourings are common. Ominously, the Ministrt of Information & Broadcasting has begun a policy of seeking to intimidate broadcasters by drawing attention to the many laws and regulations affecting media content in India. Certain individuals are being encouraged to file criminal charges against mediapersons who refuse to sing hosannas to those in power. The whiff of dictatorship is becoming more apparent.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his team,guided by Congress Party supremo Sonia Gandhi,would like to shoot the messenger.That is,the media. Rather, they need to introspect on the colonial system which they administer.The answer to the present crisis of governance in India is not more laws but less. Less laws better implemented. The people of India need a system of laws and governance that is democratic rather than colonial. Unfortunately for them,the listless leaders of India are not listening,busy as they are in making money for themselves and their families.

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