Transformation not Tweaks
Revolution only needs good dreamers who remember their dreams.” – Tennessee Williams
I will argue that India needs a revolution because incremental change in our political and economic system is not possible. The existing rot is too deep in our politics, and the resulting policies that emphasise wealth redistribution over wealth creation cannot be tweaked for better outcomes. The economic policies India needs will not come without a new political leadership, which in turn requires a radical change in the political system.
What is a revolution? From Wikipedia: “In political science, a revolution is a fundamental and relatively sudden change in political power and political organization which occurs when the population revolts against the government, typically due to perceived oppression (political, social, economic) or political incompetence.”
Oppression and political incompetence are not new in India. The people lived through it in voluntary servitude under the British, and continued it after 1947 under leaders they voted for. The particular people in power changed, the oppression and incompetence continued. India should have ousted the British with a Revolution, but we chose a peaceful transition of power that kept the rules the same – and therefore the outcomes did not change.
We can still continue with the same. Those who can create their cocoons will do so, while some others will escape to the West. The others will stay and continue to suffer. The pandemic and its aftermath will heighten the pain. Even though Indians are known for their immense tolerance of pain (what else explains our willingness to live through British Raj 1.0 and then British Raj 2.0 inflicted by our own politicians), the coming years will test even the most patient. The pandemic may have been the immediate cause, but the lasting damage is being inflicted by our politicians and bureaucrats. Will we sleep through this or will we finally wake up? If we do awaken from our slumber, we will see the need for a revolution.
A revolution might sound disruptive and violent. It is not. Just as technology is helping us buy, learn, connect and communicate, it can help us change our nation. For this a few of us need to first understand that the change is really needed. This is the job of political entrepreneurs. They have to change minds. Only then will the votes change.
The pandemic has shown us how a virus can spread itself from person to person. We need to apply similar thinking about the rules of contagion to spread ideas from person to person. We need to get past the belief that India was, is and will be great. We were not, are not and will not be great – unless we the people actively work to bring about the needed political and economic transformations. This is the revolution India needs – and what some of us have to deliver.
Tomorrow: Part 3