Imagining the Future
A question I ask people who express disappointment and anger at the current state of affairs in our nation is this: imagine it is 2025 (or 2030, or whatever future year). India has been transformed into a free and rich country. How did it happen? What was the sequence of events between now and then that changed the course of our nation?
The one obvious thing – in the absence of a leader who understands that prosperity needs freedom – is that there has to be some sort of political change which needs to precede economic change. Nations are made by leaders and their decisions. In countries like Singapore, China, Hong Kong and South Korea, far-sighted leaders drove change from the top. India has been singularly unfortunate to have had a long history of leaders who had the power but neither the will nor the vision to bring about the economic changes that would have set the people free to trade and prosper. And hence in India, the starting point will need to be a new political formation that comes to power with a single-minded focus: dismantling the anti-prosperity machine that India’s governments have become.
So, the first step is to imagine how a new set of political entrepreneurs can come to power. They have to bypass the political party system and do something different. In India, the letters in the name of the party in power do not matter – they are all broadly united in perpetuating the kakistocracy that Indian governments have become. If we cannot imagine a path to a future without the current India’s mainstream political parties, we cannot make it happen. So, the starting point has to be to think through how such a future can come to be.
This is what entrepreneurs do. They imagine new futures and work to make those happen. If they are wrong, and most of the time they are, they fail. But the few who succeed change the course of our lives and the world. India needs political entrepreneurs now more than ever – because the ones who came turned out to be charlatans and mimicry artists.
I embarked on one such thought exercise: how can a new idea do to Indian politics what Microsoft’s Windows did for computers, Google’s search engine did for information, Apple’s iPhone did for communications, Facebook did for social connections and Tesla is doing for electric cars. This is the idea I call “Sabhas”.
Local Circles can start the revolution; Sabhas will power it onwards. Circles, with their meetups and debates, will lay the foundation for people to come together in their neighbourhoods. Sabhas will create the incentive via a ladder for political entrepreneurs to act and lead.
Think of Sabhas as mirror governments. In a nation bereft of political alternatives with a comatose Opposition, Sabhas can emerge as the voice of the silent majority – the two-thirds who are non-aligned and non-voters (NANV). Sabhas are equal parts game, movement and reality show. Sabhas is the engine for the political revolution India needs.
Note: before you critique what I am going to outline, do the same exercise yourself – how can India be politically free from the parties and politicians who have become modern day asuras? Chart out the course from here to the political revolution of 202X.
Tomorrow: Part 5