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Nehruvian India – Critiqued

HHR January 3, 2015 Analysis/Insights, Archives Comments Off on Nehruvian India – Critiqued
Nehruvian India – Critiqued
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Constitution

Constitution is meant to define a state that protects the nation. It should understand the characteristic features of the nation and define the state in a way the interests of nation are best served. On the contrary our constitution tries to define how the nation should be. Instead of defining a state that protects the nation, it imposes notions that revolt against the basic nature of this nation. As a result our constitution and state have done unimaginable damage to the nation and her institutional structure in the past six decades, arguably more damage than invaders did for a comparable duration. In short we have simply defined a proxy-colonial state which is monotheistic in its outlook and does not align with the nation.

Concept of nation-state

The concept of nation-state is usually taken for granted while making most evaluations of Bharata and western nations. But its assumption is not as natural, however prevalent the notion is today. Fact is not merely that India has not been a nation-state before European colonizing. Fact is that nation-state is a concept that evolved in Europe, for European conditions of monotheist societies that associated one language, one territory, one people with one nation  Bharata had an evolved concept of orthogonal institutions of nation and state  which give far greater autonomy to the nation than a nation-state does (elaborated here  Idea of India, Unity and National Integration ).

Our society runs on the basis of a complex set of institutions. Hence it has the vitality to self-regulate, self-correct and evolve with times. Most of the course corrections in our institutions came from within the society in the form of seers, teachers, scholars and samskarta-s (civilizers/refiners, not reformers). Thus this nation is used to a far higher degree of freedom (given by responsibility) than a nation-state gives its nation in the west.

Society in India is strong and this is the reason individual enjoys much greater degree of liberty compared to west where state has much larger control over the families and individuals. Whether it is allowing kids sit in the parent’s lap in a car or choosing the emphasis of “formal” literate education the state decides a lot more about individual lives than the real stakeholders in the individuals’ lives: family community etc (discussed more in part iv).

Indian society feels scuttled and its liberties snatched by the present state, as it legislates matters that society is capable of taking care of and make more balanced and calibrated corrections than state can. State/law is a last resort and cannot act as nation/character builder. Society with its self-regulation and cultural-spiritual traditions alone can do it . The case for restoring nation’s self control is a significant part of our freedom struggle, whether or not it is well articulated before independence. Post independence in 1947, state defined by our new constitution has only very partially and unsuccessfully fulfilled this craving.

Polity and Society

Democracy avoids tyranny and its design does not ensure best of political leadership to emerge. Hindu state is designed to produce the best of leadership. What underlies this principle is the philosophy “yathA rAjA tathA prajA”. Rot begins at the top and as long as state is kept noble, society will remain dhArmik. So highest importance was given to getting the right person to rule, and when there was a violation (as in case of Duryodhana etc), there were enough checks and balances to minimize the damage and look for a better succession.

So when royal lineages started showing positively bad characters like Duryodhana, Kicaka etc, it was time to eliminate such lineages and have righteous set of kings to succeed. In Mahabharata part of it is accomplished through rAjasUya, part through the war and final phase is the upasamhAra of aSwamedha. This kind of care taken with state was the primary reason why civilian life could see the kind of productive leisure it did, for centuries to follow.

The beauty of varNa concept, among many others, while calumny made it a sin to talk of its contributions and positives and necessity to human society, is that it views state-society macro in terms of three primal consciousness qualities and aligns their positives and negatives in a way that highest civilizational ideals are achieved. Human nature and behavior is based on three consciousness qualities. Social psychology has not produced a more profound understanding of man and nature than this Sankhya concept. Four fold are humans whose nature can be sAtvik, sAtvic-rAjasic, rAjasic-tAmasic, tAmasic. Society remains healthy when these tendencies and qualities are in proportionate representation. Each must be at least a tenth and at most a third the population.

The proportions are based on antaHkaraNa mapping with satva-rajas-tamas. Traditions recommend keeping the percentages in relative balance. One argument for the numbers can be seen in this paper by Prof V Krishnamurthy . That these proportions naturally exist in society, and that the more these are used properly the more society will be civilized is the crux of varNa concept. When human pursuits and actions are aligned with nature fulfillment is highest. When the actions and vocations have a mismatch or when one of these dominates the others, there is an imbalance, skew of power, partial and skewed development.

varNa directs kshatriya cruelty into battlefield and prevents it from disrupting civilian life, ravaging towns and misusing power against the physically weak. Similarly brAhmaNa sophistry is directed at pAnDitya and guiding the kshatriya instead of hoodwinking masses. Today what we see is the reverse: there is limited kshatriya element (politicians, army and police: 2-5% of population) used properly and majority of kshatriya temper visible in social disruption, rowdyism, crime etc.

Limited brahma element is in proper use (~1-2% in knowledge system policy guidance etc) and majority hoodwinking masses. Thus immense human potential is both misdirected and underutilized, which is a failure of current civilizational model compared to a varNa based society which, by its mastery of consciousness qualities, positions people in a way the relative output is of the highest order and in line with civilizational ideals.

Seen from the basic ideals of civilization to protect women, children, old and learned men (in short soft aspects of civilization) from brute force, this is the healthiest a human society can achieve. These are indeed the ideals along which lines every RSi asks questions to kings during their visits: be it Viswamitra to Dasaratha or Narada to Yudhisthira or Vyasa to DhRtarAshTra. It is satisfactory answers to these that make them judge the praAranjakatva of any ruler. Protection of non-combatants, fair taxation (1/8th of produce in the worst of circumstances and 1/12th in peacetime), creating environment for flourishing of knowledge, arts and leisurely pursuits are indeed indicative of evolved and healthy civilization.

Cases like Kicaka and Draupadi episode indeed were treated as unforgivable offenses, which is indicative of the level at which royal systems operated. That this happens in spite of one section engaging in most sanguine warfare, is indeed an ideal that we alone could achieve. Right unto the Mauryas, then Chandratreyas, then Rajputs, Paramaras, Pandyas and Marathas to list a few, these concepts were not ideals of books but what guided their policies: within what the imposing external and internal constraints permitted.

History records say Hindus in India were aghast to see “hitherto unknown” experiences of invading (Islamic) army burning down villages, destroying farms and hurting civilians, a phenomenon never (or seldom) known from Hindu kings.

This is in stark contrast against the rape-arson-murder following Trojan war or crusades-crescentades that went on for centuries. European faith-based knighthood or jihadi groups are known to, by their subservience not to civilizational but to religious ideal, ravage fields, destroy villages, and disrupt civilian life by employing uncivilized means like terror and destruction (some detail in KS Lal’s book ( The Legacy of Muslim Rule. in India)

Because of the way state and kshatriya society were designed, revolution as a concept was almost unnecessary in India. Even civil disobedience was a last resort which was seldom necessary to be employed. Revolution is civilian trauma. Hindu social organization keeps violence to the domain of kshatriyas and shields society, which is why society continues to provide leisure and allows civilizational development, be it arts and sciences or spiritual knowledge or stable social structure. Bringing struggle to the level of common man is the failure of system as per Hindu thought, which is an inevitable last resort (that Gandhi resorted to as a result of depletion of kshAtra and demilitarizing of India done by British). Ultimately what offered us sustainable independence is the erection of 2million strong war trained army that we had as a result of WW2, courtesy Savarkar’s strategy.

What we saw in place of an informed understanding and critique of this concept in the last century, is a rather simplistic understanding and straw man critique. For example people wax eloquent about “karma based instead of janma based” varNa, without knowing that varNa’s base is guNa-karma and it has multiple aspects including birth, upbringing, opportunity. Itihasa-Purana and real life narratives explain the play of these and the share of each of these, the consequences and fulfillment or lack of it seen by persons who fully align, partially align and malign their guNa-karma.

Civilization

Bharata enjoys a civilizational continuity, something very few nations can take pride in. We have an accumulated learning through ages, and while the society evolves through several cycles and spirals the learning continues to deepen the society’s resilience and making its philosophical and spiritual learnings reflect more in the common man’s life. The social institutions too, benefited from this learning and offer a much stronger and stable basis for individuals and families towards their own fulfillment.

In terms of knowledge we enjoy a continuous development. The entire Vedic knowledge is recompiled in Ramayana phase, entire Vedic-Puranic knowledge recompiled in MBH phase, entire Vedic-Puranic-Tantric knowledge reorganized in dArSanik phase with due developments. Correspondingly methods of worship grew from personal to collective, abstract to socially viable and so on. Similarly we have seen several social cycles, several ups and downs and social evolution adapting to those.

We have seen transformation of society from a uniform and homogeneous single book – single law system to an increasingly complex 2-fold society, then 3-fold society, then to a 4-fold society. What strings all these cycles, what remains unchanged through these increasing complexities and evolutions is the permanent knowledge of nature, mankind, consciousness underlying nature. The reason this is called sanAtana dharma or eternal law is that this knowledge is unchanging.

For this reason Sanatana dharma the eternal law has nothing to do with half baked jargon like new and old systems, reforms. Human nature, nature, human craving for fulfillment etc are permanent principles. The society based on such dharma amorphously evolves, for it has no solidified form that needs a reform. Deeper in its structure is the unchanging principle, pivoted on which any changes are absorbed or initiated.

Thus while there is a continuous change affected by time space and condition, there is a deterministic and predictable direction to these changes. Practices come and go with time, arrangements come and go with time, while macro design remains the same. In the long past we have not merely seen linear developments but several cycles of ups and downs, restoration to “old” systems, syntheses of “new” traditions, destructions, creations: all emphasizing the cyclic nature of time and demonstrating the prevailing nature of the permanent principles that assert themselves through these cycles.

What we see in west in contrast, is not correction by retaining social order but wiping out of civilized life and disrupting it. Monotheism almost wiped out the cultural bases laid down by polytheists, feudal age wiped out its precursors, the post-industrial society wiped out the traces of feudal life and so on. This is because the present is always a replacement of past culture and understanding of man, his needs, his dignity and so on. The ideal of society itself keeps changing. They neither enjoy continuity nor have seen full social cycles: they have abrupt corrections and replacements, involving revolutions and civilian trauma.

Authors of constitution seem to have failed to understand the principles, let alone ensure such civilizational continuity and base itself on such unchanging laws of nature, mankind and Bharatiya thought. This is the single biggest failure of Indian constitution and its offense against this great nation. As a result the concept of nation-state enforced by British happens to be owned up, attempting an entirely new and disconnected view of the nation than the nation has of itself.

Unity

What we saw in six decades is a play of disintegration motives in this nation, separatism, conflict. All the motives that acted as integration motives all through history are now acting as disintegration motives, thanks to a flawed view of all this taken by the founders of nation-state (who are not only not the founders of Bharata but are proving to be its confounders).

A nation that did not see caste conflict for millennia is now a field for caste conflicts. A nation that saw several languages develop in the same region is now seeing linguistic and regional jingoism. A nation that saw brief native religious conflicts and easily overcame those through the strength of its institutions is now seeing religious conflict, violence, rioting. Reason is a false integration motif foisted on this nation replacing several natural unification motives that the seers envisioned.

Democracy

Democracy’s consensus building is a problem in diverse society . However this problem is only deepened through minorityism and consolidation of minority identity in opposition to a diverse, scattered “majority” whose consensus building is done in ways very different. We are anation of hundreds of “minority” groups, consensus must emerge through a stratified representation of those and not through reduction of those into two large identities.

Secularism

Secularism is a notion that emerges from the church-state divide of Europe and finds no rationale in India. This is because, as discussed in part III of the series, religion-polity divide does not require to be created: they both were separate sets of non-conflicting institutions in India.

Monotheism

The very notion of religion assumed by constitution is monotheistic and proselytizing , in stark contrast to Bharata’s diverse decentralized polytheistic traditions and the common epistemic and argumentation system underlying them. As a result it disadvantages the tolerant traditions of Bharata against the exclusivist religions. A nation that has innumerable traditions is artificially divided into majority-minority instead of recognizing the diversity and circumscribing the activity of predatory religions and make them fall into a more tolerant and pluralist structure.

This is a nation where there are social and religious groups, both native and immigrant, which number in thousands to millions, and are not insecure about their identities. It is ridiculous that someone should think groups numbering in tens of millions should play the card of insecurity and ask for “minority protection”. Every major commenter pays lip service to Bharata’s diversity yet very few cared to notice the ridiculousness and illegitimacy of the notion of majority-minority in a diverse society as a basis for policy making.

Moreover due to its flawed view of religion, the state sought to protect aggressors from the defending traditions instead of fulfilling basic duty towards the nation: of protecting the pluralistic native traditions from the intolerant religions. As a result these traditions fell from 85% to <80% in less than seven decades, rising the footprint of exclusivist traditions to more than a fifth of the population. This is damage unprecedented in the history of this land, seen over such a short period of time.

This is directly the cause of rising religious conflict and intolerance in this land. Yesterday’s East Bengal’s situation can well be expected soon in West Bengal, and stories of NE, Kashmir and Kerala’s are well known. The state has kept the nation on a landmine, which is bound to explode in time not too far in future. Worse, to keep the problem suppressed the state is trying to scuttle the defense of native traditions thereby increasing the harm to them as well as bringing down its own moral credibility.

Language

Indian languages are not shrinking because of job finding avenues in English learning unlike what many think but primarily because of the nation-state notion which aligns state with one language. This is a nation where linguistic boundaries did not exist and several languages were spoken over large areas. Language, culture and literature had seen rich development as a result. Carnatic music of Kannada origin is enriched with thousands of Telugu kIrtana-s, which are mastered by Tamilians. Most of the major literary figures had mastered several languages.

Today the literature in most Indian languages is not suffering because there is great literary contribution happening in the “global” language. It is because the artificial linguistic states make policies destructive to the development of culture and languages with their region-language politic. Suffering of language and other aspects of culture such as arts has to do much with decline in sense of beauty and overemphasis on utilitarian thought in policy making , which in turn has to do with the way Hindu worldview balances these and how it reflects in policy making.

While our liberals teach us that language learning should be helpful in job finding, and that hence we should embrace foreign languages, this was exactly the argument used to forced English literacy on India by British – our liberals don’t even introspect how colonized their thinking is.

Economy

Similarly state did not seek to understand or align its policies to what the nature of this society is, instead it reveled in alien jargon like socialism and capitalism thus creating a need for society to work in spite of state.

Constitution defines the state to be socialist, when the cultural economy of India that kept us the richest nation for centuries before colonizing is founded in traditional society’s capital managing but not socialist or capitalist principles. Unfortunately soon after independence the basic question as to what kept us mirabilia India, which attracted raids and conquests from penuriosa latina for want of latter’s wealth, was not posed.

To the contrary the leaders enamored by west’s might and its successes built on colonial loot, fashioned our economic policies and economic philosophy after the west. If only the question was posed, and an honest attempt made at understanding this society’s strengths and workings, would there be a policy choice made to align with it.

As S Gurumurthy notes ( here in Video ) and Prof Vaidyanathan documents (India Uninc) we are having come up in spite of bad economic policy, by the strength of our social structure, family and group institutions. Upon an objective evaluation skill-group system turns out to be far more superior: It is more just compared to the evolving institutions of the west, which initially involved slavery, then serfs, then employment culture and is still not successful in human fulfillment though they are increasingly giving more rights to the manpower. Skill groups offer both security and independence at a higher degree than the capitalist employment culture. Human fulfillment is achieved better, whose evidence is the civilizational success of Bharata. It is free of the basic problems posed by both capitalism and socialism, both of which are rooted in addressing parts of the problem.

Respect for Law

Law must be respected and abided by. The extent to which this actually happens depends, to some extent on the governance and enforcement and to a good extent on the law itself. The law itself has to qualify the criteria of fairness and consistency. Respect for law cannot be mandated through a mere demand through constitution by calling it a citizen’s duty. A fair and consistent law book does get respect.

The authors of constitution had compiled it with what they thought best, however as said the way to hell is paved with best of intentions. Many learned men, though they abide by the law, have low opinion about law and lawmakers: for the simple reason that it does not, by Hindu moral standards, come out to be a fair and consistent document. Very few attempts however, have been made to make it better. On the contrary many attempts after the first draft, unfortunately, ended up worsening the document, thus making it only more unfair.

What is the qualification required for a constitution writer/smRtikArA for a nation like ours? It requires an in-depth understanding of the nature of our nation and society, its ways and positives not merely its problems, identifying principles that are inline with those. The changing principles must be derived to suit the conditions based on the unchanging laws of nature and mankind. Constitution was written by people who are quite the opposite: those who have mere working knowledge of Hinduism and tried to fashion our nation after the colonizers’ laws whose intent was subjugation and exploitation.

Use of law is not the only thing that should be in the mind of one who is framing it, its misuse must be foreseen and sufficiently checked. This part is hardly to be seen in our laws. For instance minority rights have been given to protect them, but “minority” aggression is virtually unchecked. Similarly affirmative action is mandated to bring underprivileged groups on par, but it is neither made sure those getting benefits are the real underprivileged ones nor is there any correction offered to placate meritorious ones deprived of their chances by the law.

Of course, there is no mechanism laid down to bring it back the policy to a law that does not discriminate. What shows in all this is lack of foresight, lack of understanding of the nature of the nation and human nature. One who sees downsides of a policy while framing it is the wise one and qualifies to make it. One who lacks it cannot give a law that serves the nation the best.

This does not go to say we can disrespect law: indeed a society that does not respect its laws and constitution is no civilized society. This is to show where the problem lies and for one who is interested in solving it where it should begin. Tradition says “yathA rAjA thathA prajA”. It is indispensable for the state to be fair and consistent in public view, for people to respect the laws and policies laid down by it. In our case the constitution, policy making and governance has been below average compared to Hindu standards of morality and governance and hence the system does not receive the kind of respect that the celebrated rulers of this land like Sri Rama or Yudhisthira received. Very little introspection and correction if any, is seen in this regard.

Morality

Constitution is based on a scheme of morality. Indian constitution was derived from western constitutions, many of the acts continued from British times. They are mostly based on Victorian Christian morality. Recent judgments observed the need to change these to a more recent, post-modern moral assumptions such as decriminalizing LGBT etc. Many laws are called outdated because the ideals underlying these laws are changing with times.

The very basic structure of constitution as they call, a notion introduced to prevent distorting the document out of shape by legislators as happened during Indira Gandhi’s tenure, is not based on such scheme of what is permanent and what is temporary but on some ideals that were falsely deemed to be permanent features of this nation.

Constitution does not base itself on Indian moral scheme, which is more subtle and evolved: it has several layers, deeper ones are based on permanent human nature and upper/outer layers are based on stages of social cycle (yuga dharma), changing times (deSa, kAla etc). Basic structure and deeper layers of constitution must be based on the unchanging laws, and temporal layers should be based on the changing times. This stratification is absent in Indian constitution because it does not base itself on an evolved scheme of morality such as Dharma.

The Document

India’s constitution as it stands today, has several internal consistencies pointed out here. It calls for a secular state yet reserves control of religious institutions of Hindus and makes interventions only experts of religion are eligible to make (such as appointment of priests and organizational decisions, in some states deciding what is a superstition in case of Hinduism). It discriminates educational institutions and allows “minorities” to teach religious education while making “majority” or “mainstream” education secular which prevents teaching native values and culture. A majority of these inconsistencies have to do with making the state secular while assuming but not acknowledging the nation a Hindu nation.

Conclusion

In short, what we have is a state against the nation. Honest governments can at best minimize the damage in their term and rogue leaderships maximize the damage, but the basic problem remains with the constitution. There is an urgent need for leadership to look at the constitution not with fancy idealism but take an objective, critical view of how much it succeeded in serving its purpose, where it hurt the nation and what needs revision and correction. With whatever available knowledge and experience the authors had written it and with whatever motives the subsequent changes were done to it, today we have the experience of both original nation’s record and post-independence record under the current constitution to make an objective evaluation.

by Skanda Veera

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