Thursday, May 25, 2006

SEX: It‘s good, says Mao, but not too often.

Nitin Pai calls for a resignation from the Manmohan Singh government following the events in recent past, which have been painfully repeated, across various fora. However, I can understand fully Nitin’s emotions while writing this, and would support everything that he says inasmuch as he does not demand anything as radical as a resignation.

One might recollect the events of May ’68 – the dissolving of the National Assembly and the subsequent and shocking re-election of the de Gaulle government. In fact the title itself comes from one of those famous grèves that consumed Paris during that fateful month. Much happened, much changed – and much did not.

France makes an interesting comparison with India. Though a major difference still remains, France is a developed First World economy, and India a languishing Third World also-ran.

People will tell you about how India is able to compete with China and more shit about ‘hum kisiisein kum nahii’. The truth is far from what is being said. In fact, analysts and data will tell you that China has long gone. It took off before, yes, but the relentless pace of progress has been so stupendous that even an India with Dr.Manmohan Singh’s landmark budget 10 years before would still have languished. Far behind. Unfortunately history has played out it’s hand such that the same man will rub out systematically all the good that he had done.

Getting back to France, what India needs is a similar scale, in terms of sheer percentages to achieve anything as radical as France. 2/3 of the French population went on strike, and though the revolt started as a student uprising, it was widely supported by the bourgeois, working population. Such a revolt is simply impossible in India simply because India is too big a country for anything of this sort to happen. We forget that students form a miniscule percentage of cities which form a minor percentage in India’s total population. The Manmohan Singh govt. relies on its traditional rural vote-bank, one that is un-informed and stoic at these quite ridiculous new laws.

What India needs is also a similar revolt in terms of numbers, but not in terms of ideology. The ‘68 revolts were characterized by mixed messages, pro-communist ones echoing the most loudly. The message that the revolt in India needs to carry has to be more broad-based than just ‘no quotas’. It has to demand liberalization, freedom and less govt.-control over private life and property. It has to demand an environment for growth and creativity. It has to demand all these things, using the channel of these student protests if it has to achieve anything of the same scale.

However, unlike their French counterparts, the Indian middle-class is still coming to terms with its new found economic prosperity. The middle-class will just not stand up in enough numbers for the afore-mentioned principles, although they might support a limited reservation based protest. And here is where the Indian so-called-revolt will break down. Limited scope and not enough public appeal. India is simply not ready for such a massive social upheaval, which is specifically what it needs. The govt. meanwhile is quietly going to play its own game – trade small urban areas for large rural vote-banks. It is playing with its old trump card – safety in numbers.

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