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Re: On manifestos, political naivete and



On Manifestos, Political Naivete and Indian
Realities

I have now had my first chance to visit the web-site and read the proposed
manifesto.   My initial thought is that it is a brilliant and very
worthwhile enterprise, and the people involved deserve much credit and
encouragement.  My next thought is that the document as it stands now
betrays a tremendous political naivete.  Politics is a serious discipline,
the highest of all according to Aristotle because it subsumes within itself
all the others.   A nation may be great in many specific things and yet it
may all add up to nothing because the "political technology", to coin a
phrase, is backward or obsolete.   Conversely, a quite unexceptional nation
may advance rapidly because its political technology is progressive and
profound.

I believe each of the main political configurations in the country today has
something to add to the national interest:  (a) the BJP is correct to have
established that Indians should stand up straight and not be ashamed to
being or being called Indians; (b) the Congress and its splinters are
correct to have established that India as a polity cannot survive other than
within a secular fabric; (c) the Left is correct to have established that,
in India as elsewhere, the interests of the power elite and the interests of
India's people are frequently at odds.

This said, the realities of Indian politics today seem to me to be dominated
by the following facts which I pose as rhetorical questions:  1.   How is it
that a party with as great a history as the Congress is today reduced to a
position of such degeneration that it has a necessary dependence upon
Shrimati Sonia Gandhi for its survival?     I have met Shrimati Gandhi only
once, in December 1991 at her home, in connection with her husband's
assassination.    I could be widely off the mark but I expect that she
herself may have asked herself precisely the same question.

2.   How is it that the leaders of the Left parties are blind to the fact
they are themselves part of the power elite they once upon a time might have
deplored, and hence, because the Left has no creativity or credibility
remaining, there is no genuine voice at the national level for the Indian
masses (to use an old-fashioned term)?

3.   As for the present Government, I believe they have had quite
significant successes in a short period due to Pokhran as well as the
raising of the average competence level of the Council of Ministers; but
where is their novelty and creativity?  Specifically, knowing that a nuclear
exchange with Pakistan is unthinkable, why not reach out to Pakistan and
offer them what is obvious:  A Common Defence, A Common Market and a Common
Kashmir?   If there was a Yes/No Referendum on both sides of the
India/Pakistan Border on that formula (implemented as it must be over,say, 5
years), is there any doubt that the masses of India and the masses of
Pakistan would overwhelmingly vote 'Yes'?  Yet the present Government seems
quite bereft of good ideas, and sometimes seems well on its way to becoming
at one with its predecessors.

A new political manifesto that has any chance of being read by anyone must,
it seems to me, begin and end in political realities, especially as these
realities are comprehended by people living in them.   There is vast room
for a superior manifesto and agenda than presently exists anywhere in India.
But it will ultimately require not words and web-sites but right political
action on the ground,  which implies either existing leaders have to come to
be successfully persuaded or new and progressive political leaders must
arise with mass public support to carry them forward.


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