An Indian Adolescence

By Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar
20 February 2013 19:49 IST

As soon as Omar Abdulla was informed of the decision to hang Afzal guru in Delhi he rushed back to Kashmir and began precautionary measures. It was as if he was anticipating a fire fight. Afzal Guru had carried out an attack on the Indian Parliament. Law had taken its own course. Delay was probably due to the Presidential intervention, or rather the lack of it. Yet when justice was finally delivered in accordance with Indian law there was turbulence in J and K.

Omar said Punjab CM Beant Singh's assassin and Rajiv Gandhi's assassin should meet the same fate. Immediately there was unrest in Punjab. Enough unrest to believe that Khalistan movement still simmers.

Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Himachal and Arunachal already have special status. Goa is on the verge of beginning a fight for it -- whatever the special status may mean for Goa in other states it is meant to protect their tribal culture.

Hyderabad is not exactly happy to be a part of India; or so it would seem to any body who cares to listen to MLA Akbaruddin Owasi.

Tripura and Assam have their own separatism. Tamil Nadu is not very happy with India's handling of the proposed state of Tamil Eelam, carved out of Sri Lanka for the Lankan Tamils.

And despite all this, India is a Union. Thanks to a solid foundation of secular, tolerant, democracy laid by Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and others.

Why is it that there is so much contempt within India for the Indian Union? Why is it that an Indian army officer's family is not allowed to perform his last rites in the Golden temple? Why does a sober Muslim man who has respect for Hinduism and has even read the Vedas attack the Indian Parliament? Why does politics interfere with everything including law and order in India? Why does communal behavior overshadow everything else in politics including national interests?

Now let us take a look at the man who supposedly will change all this ... enter Mr Narendra Modi -- the Prime Ministerial candidate of India's principal opposition party.

"Hailed" as the "modern day nero" -- not hero -- by the Supreme Court, Modi is a man who asks for a glass of water with fear written large on his face when Karan Thapar asks him about Gujarat riots on national television. He projects himself as the economic messiah of Gujarat while India fails to see that "Moditva" is not at all necessary for economic development. In fact Nitish Kumar's Bihar has the highest growth rate among all states at 11.95%.

New York based Human Rights Watch has detailed the involvement of Gujarat Government led by Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots in a 70 page book titled "We have no orders to save you"-- State Participation and complicity in communal violence in Gujarat.

Again, last year, Human rights watch released a report "India - a decade on, Gujarat justice incomplete". The report clearly states "while investigations in the Godhra train attack proceeded rapidly, investigations into cases of anti Muslim riots that followed were deliberately slowed down or simply not pursued. Officials of the Gujarat state government, led by Chief Minister Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is currently serving its third term running the State government in Gujarat, failed to conduct serious investigations and obstructed justice.State courts dismissed many cases for lack of evidence after the prosecution effectively acted as defense counsel or witnesses turned hostile after receiving threats."

And Mr Modi is being projected as the representative of the uniquely diverse people of India. Is this not risky to the very existence of India? The very idea of India?

Adolescence is a period in the life of every individual - a period of transition from child-to-adulthood. Risk taking behavior is characteristic of this period. Adolescence is also the period when the adolescent comes into frequent conflict with other members of the family. During this period the obedient child is turning into a forcefully assertive adolescent.

In a similar way India, born in 1947 and christened in 1950 is now entering into a tumultuous phase of adolescence.

Despite being a clear majority Hindus are trying to assert themselves. This alienates the non Hindus who demonstrate their decreased faith in the idea of India through acts like the one carried out by Afzal Guru.

Can India survive this turbulent "hormonal surge" of adolescence?

During adolescence, despite the changing family roles, home environment and parents are still important for the behavior and choices of adolescents. 

Similarly in the great Indian adolescence a "home environment" of secular unity in diversity is important. Also important are our "parents"-- Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar and others who gave us our Constitution.

Adolescents who have good relationship with their parents are by far less likely to engage in various risk taking behaviors such as drugs, smoking, drinking, fighting, unprotected sex etc.

In a similar fashion all the leaders of our adolescent India need to re affirm their faith in our founding fathers and have a good relationship with their memories.

A medical study done in 2009 beautifully states, "support and encouragement from authoritative parents motivates the adolescents to complete their education, in order to avoid disappointing the parents". Our adolescent India must seek support of the Constitution of India and encouragement from the philosophy of Gandhi -- the philosophy of "satya", "ahimsa" and "sarvadharma samabhaav" to smooth- en and cushion its transition to adulthood of being a developed nation, an economic superpower.

Adolescence in the life of an individual is physiology. But why such adolescence in the life of a nation? Why such risk taking behavior?

A careful or even a careless study of history reveals that such "hormonal surge" is a phase in the life of many mature nations. It may well be a manifestation of extreme, collective selfishness of a nation on the brink of a socio-economic self realization.

The United States had a Civil War that dealt with the extreme selfishness of the southern States. Another case is Germany which required the "help" of its neighbors in its attempt to get rid of a democratically elected product of extreme selfishness -- Adolf Hitler. The "adolescence" in the life of these nations was indeed turbulent and brought them close to catastrophe. On the other hand, surviving such adolescence made these nations extremely mature, vibrant democracies.

And as we walk the talk on Germany's and India's adolescence, clear similarities emerge in the events that led to the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany and the events that are occurring in India today that lead to the rise of Narendra Modi. Can Modi be India's Hitler?

Time will tell.

Blogger's Profile

Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar

Dr Mukul R Pai Raiturkar is a consultant pediatrician & neonatologist practicing in Margao. He is the co-convener of Ami Goenkar, an organisation of secular young Goans working towards a novel approach to religious-political issues of Goa. Son of veteran Goan freedom fighter Mr Ravindranath Pai Raiturkar, he exudes unshakable faith in a liberal, secular and free spirited democracy of India.

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