Brand India @ 66

By Prabhakar Timble
14 August 2012 08:19 IST

India completes sixty-five years of life and freedom. Whether the journey has been fruitful or less successful or could have been made more prosperous is a subject of endless debate. But, definitely a Brand India has emerged before the nations of the world and it is perceived all over the globe. This brand image is apart from our skewed growth story and our failure to usher in a just social and economic order. It is clear that the trickledown theory of growth assuring percolation of fruits of development through the market economy model espousing liberalisation and globalisation has not worked. Social and economic inequity today is emerging as a major roadblock for acceleration of growth. The underprivileged and less empowered are using all forms of protests and political lobbying to block what are regarded as economic reforms. The ruling party and the government are finding it difficult to garner political support for further reforms. Probably, the road to accelerated growth and reforms has to be only through fast-tracked equity.

Democratic Dividend

Constitutional democracy and parliamentary form of government is our international capital and identity. There is a definite ‘democratic dividend’ which Indian can encash in the global community.  With whatever ills of our politics and politicians; the abuse of money and muscle power during elections, India has proved to the world that democracy and the values enshrined in the Constitution is inseparable part of India’s identity. Our neighbours cannot boast of this democratic identity and very few nations in the world can put a claim for a representative democracy and humane fundamentals of governance as we have in India despite diverse and divisive issues.

Brand Incredible India bombarded through mega advertising campaigns is a testimony of the multiplicity of cultures and lifestyles combined with extreme contradictions but still forming a composite nation. During the period of the BJP led NDA government there was a sudden rise of the brand Shining India which equally had a sudden death. The geographical ambit and the community coverage were restricted to the brains and human resource for software development in the metros of Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mumbai which are almost colonised by multinational capital.

Of late, it is not economic and military power which determines the distinct identity of a nation. The values and principles that nations seek to protect, preserve and promote are regarded as the most important barometers of identity. Rarely can one individual be instrumental in bestowing a cap of identity to a nation. The only exception could be India to whom the world looks as the soil where Gandhi and Tagore were born. The values of freedom, brotherhood, peace and non-violence fostered by them with the involvement of the masses have today become co-terminus with Indian identity in the international market.

Conflict spots

Of course, there are confused spots over the period of sixty-six years. The carnage of Muslims in Gujarat, exactly a decade back by Hindu gangs------educated, professionals and belonging to business group gave a negative blow to our national identity. This could not be dispensed as a deviation or exception since the butchery was pre-planned, organised and selective. Gujarat proved to be an exception to the convention that peace and harmony needs to prevail for economic prosperity. Narendra Modi’s Gujarat is envied for growth and an investor-friendly climate. The top five industrial giants of India sing the praise of the State and the political leadership. They cannot be wrong. What is right is that economic growth, fundamentalism and extremism could be good friends in bed. It is also regarded that the consolidation of the middle class promotes liberal democratic policies and cuts fanaticism and intemperance. Gujarat was an exception to this largely held view. This also points out that if there is a deliberate and pain-staking effort to work at the grass-roots, Brand Hindutva can ignite the educated and affluent Hindus to kill and murder for restoration of pride and glory. This brand is being slowly promoted with the ultimate objective of a Hindu Rashtra----One Nation, One Culture. The authors of this edifice consider that our past was glorious and the present is polluted; that history needs to be re-written from the viewpoint of this brand. The purveyors of the brand expect writers, artists, historians, intellectuals and thinkers to fall in line holding that the rich past is the best model for a ‘Akhand’ Bharat. In short, we should answer Pakistan with a Hindu Pakistan. The conflict of the two-nation theory does not stand diluted even after sixty-six years.

As we stand today, the internal conflicts are the challenges to Brand India. These conflicts sprouted due to initial social inequity and exclusion. New conflicts have arisen due to economic, social and educational development since independence. Planned development and policies of positive discrimination has created expectations in the underprivileged and less empowered groups. At the same time, policies of economic liberalisation and globalisation have kindled totally different kind of hopes in the advantaged sections. There are internal conflicts due to regional inequity and the resurgence of regional identity which largely gets synonymous with caste identity. The pendulum of conflict in regions holding the sway of Mayawati, Mamta, Jayalalitha, the Yadavs’, the Jats and the tribal communities are swinging between assertions to arrogance; and from demand for genuine share to total parochialism.

Brand India has adapted itself to live with these conflicts. The answers to these cannot be found in the short-run. The Indian Republic will have to reaffirm on every dawn of 15th August its commitment to the constitutional values. In the post-1980, we have consigned Gandhi, Tagore, Nehru and Ambedkar to the back seat. Our imbalanced society and regions need the mix of these thinkers. They should still continue to be the architects of modern India. We should resurrect them in our planning process, public administration and universities. Do not dump them under the label of social welfare which is regarded by all as the most insignificant wing.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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