Tuesday, August 9, 2011

India’s rise is stunted

An eminent statesman, when asked about China and India, pointed out the key difference: “China is a closed society, but with open minds and an eagerness to learn about the world. India is an open society, but with closed minds and a know-it-all attitude.” If we can change, as people do, it will take decades. One interim possibility must be attempted. We still have people who know what is needed—and there’s no basic difference on this between our main political parties. If these could agree to eschew petty politics on just a few national challenges, especially national security, India could be a leader despite its defects.

Here, There Be Dinosaurs... Cataracts, Warts And All
India’s rise is stunted by a hegemony of outmoded thought and indecision
K. Shankar Bajpai

United States secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s call for India to show greater leadership in world affairs is one more reminder of our tragedy. Just when the world starts to think of us as the major power we’ve always fancied ourselves to be, we have made ourselves increasingly unfit to take on the role. Our methods of attending to our affairs lead the other way: at best, stagnation as a backwater, or more probable, a deep ocean of trouble. We just cannot carry on like this. The immediate cause of this sorry state of affairs is the decay in governance, with our instruments of state action turning increasingly dysfunctional. But the government is the people: those in government or politics, whichever we wish to blame, are of our own creation. Ultimately, it is the way we all think and act that decides outcomes. Let alone taking leadership on the world stage, India is not even churning out far-sighted thinking on internal problems.

The reasons behind this are too complex for a detailed analysis here, but the one crucial failing is that the thinking, or considerations, that we bring to bear on any issue obstruct, instead of facilitate, decisions. Tangents, digressions, irrelevancies, non-sequiturs, the half-digested leavings of yesterday’s half-baked intellectuals, all compounded by unbridled emotionalism—the anarchic tendencies we seem to revel in are in full spate in our decision-making paradigm. Add the one constant consideration—“what’s in it for me or mine?”—and you’re assured of a bad result or none at all.

The illustrations of our condition are endless. A common feature emerges though: decisions are not taken, or taken for the wrong reasons, and then, only poorly implemented. The spectre of Maoism looms larger because of this. Perhaps the worst hit is our defence-preparedness. Delays in procurement are endemic; more worrisome, and wholly ignored, are the deteriorating civil-military relations. Many leaders are aware of this, but are stultified by the most petty of politics... Click here to read more

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