Legacy of Indian Politics:

It’s been eight years since Narendra Modi became prime minister of India. The union government is organising various events to celebrate 75 years of Independence, under the banner; ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav'.

Indian National Congress ruled independent India for more than 50 years. Before independence, our country was ruled by ancient kings, then the invaders namely Mughals, Portuguese, Dutch, French and British. We see something common in Indian politics from the days of ancient kings to present day politics. Oppression, discrimination, inequality, exploiting the poor, existed from the days of ancient kings and it remains unchanged. We can call it the legacy of Indian politics.
Shah Jahan built Taj Mahal as a monument of love for his favourite wife. This is what we learnt from our school text books. I would say that the expensive Taj Mahal was built by the poor. Or, Shah Jahan exploited the poor to build Taj Mahal.
According to economist Angus Maddison, India’s share in global GDP grew from 22.7% to 24.4% during Mughal-era (1600-1700). During this period, India’s GDP became world’s largest surpassing China. But Indian peasants remained impoverished, while official elite enjoyed great wealth. Painters, poets, musicians and scholars were encouraged and were loyalists of the ruler. Luxury industries flourished, high quality textiles and ornaments production was supported.

All these Muslim invaders like the Mughals plundered several Hindu temples, killed thousands who were not ready to convert to Islam and exploited the poor for decades. E.Dewick and Murray Titus, quoting Badshahnama, write that 76 temples in Benares were demolished on Shah Jahan’s orders. The Europeans and the British also did the same. They looted India for several years, but they didn’t force their religion on us.
Caste rigidity, untouchability, slavery and several other superstitious beliefs were actually instruments to exploit the poor. This means even those belonging to upper-caste were subjected to certain level of harassment and oppression by the rich. 

 Most of the ancient Indian dynasties which we glorify even today like the Cholas, Vijayanagara samrajya, the Rajputs were beneficiaries of this system. They were weak due to disunity. When threatened by other rulers, many of them approached invaders for military assistance in return for revenue sharing. During succession dispute, they competed against one another to collect more tax to garner support from their masters (invaders). Raja Bihari Mal of Amber(Jaipur) offered his daughter in marriage to Akbar to remain in power. Akbar accepted the offer and Raja’s son prospered in Akbar’s service. Akbar followed this feudal policy towards other Rajput chiefs, where they can hold their ancestral territory as long as they acknowledged Akbar as emperor, paid tribute, supplied troops when required and concluded a marriage alliance with him. All these Invaders appointed provincial governments called ‘Subadar’ or ‘nawab’ to collect tax and ‘Diwan’ (civil administrator) who supervised revenue collection, prepared accounts and reported directly to the emperor. 

Issues like caste is a sensitive topic even in 21st century. But we need to think in a more matured way to find solutions. And it’s time to introspect the legacy of Indian politics to see if the present day government is same as the ancient Indian rulers and invaders?

The ruling BJP and the Sangh Parivar will look at above paragraphs as excerpts from history written by communists and western writers. They don’t like this history of India taught to students in schools and universities. They want the history of India that glorifies our culture and tradition. They want to showcase ancient Indian rulers as great warriors and administrators in history of India. So the Sangh Parivar wants to change school syllabus. And Indian history is one among those which they want to change.
We need to understand that our school and college syllabus will change, depending upon the ruling party. School text books and what we learn in college will only help us to become a professional like a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer. Other subjects like history, political science and economics will give us some insight and it is not complete. Someone who did his masters in commerce thirty years ago had never come across AI (artificial intelligence) and data analytics. Similarly, no political science class will throw light on certain tactics and strategies used by our political leaders. So the text books and syllabus will only introduce us to the subject. We visit libraries and refer to books from different scholars to get the real picture at least during college days. 

The students who are gullible youths should keep away from politics. College days are the best part of student's life and is supposed to be a pleasant souvenir. It is meant to learn and prepare to chase their dreams. It is time for them to make their parents proud. Campus politics will often result in student’s name appearing in criminal records, even before they graduating from college. Arrest warrant will come searching for them, instead of an offer letter through campus interview. It will spoil their life and career. Their parents will be made to visit police station, lawyers, court and hospital. 

The political masters will not lead students union in the right path and will often use them for political leverage for their respective parties. Only few will become successful politicians out of thousands who spoil their life in campus politics. It’s not worth spoiling lives of thousands to churn out one successful political leader. 

There were several protests from students union, since Modi became prime minister in 2014. Few of them died, many were injured and hospitalized. Some of them been in prison. Some were beaten black and blue by police. These students also risked the life of policemen on duty. 

Kanhaiya Kumar is the only person who became full time politician from students union in the last eight years. He is knowledgeable and a great orator. Kanhaiya Kumar contested from Begusarai and got 22.03 % of vote share. He was students union leader of communist and contested election for the same party. After the defeat, he joined Indian National Congress on 28 September 2021. Being with Communist could have helped him to be a great leader. 22.03% vote share should have gradually increased to more than 50% over the years. This is where real politics comes into picture where a young politician like Kanhaiya Kumar will find it difficult to continue with same party after exhibiting his capability. 

Kanhaiya Kumar won’t be able to win an election for another few decades. There are people in Congress, who been with them from several years and are waiting for an opportunity with handful of supporters. Kanhaiya Kumar becoming an MLA will be his lifetime achievement. It is very likely that he will become irrelevant in few years.
Students being part of NCC and visiting parade ground everyday will make them fit. It will bring discipline in their life. It will keep them away from alcohol and drugs. Many of them will end up in police, coast guard, BSF, Army, Navy and Air force. But being part of student’s union associated with some political party will ruin their life and career. Political discussions, debates, following news will make them intellectuals. But engaging in active politics and following the instructions from political masters will make them criminals. It will shatter their dreams. These political masters really don’t care about life, ambitions and career of students. Those true patriots will love their country, parents and will try to contribute to society, after becoming successful in their own life. 

India is going through a transition in every sphere. These changes will transform India like never before. ‘Swacha Bharath Abhiyan’ making India free from open defecation, modernising Indian railways (making the existing railway tracks capable of running trains at higher speed, development of semi-high speed trains like ‘Vande Bharat’), achieving banking and internet access to entire rural India, modernisation of military equipment (purchase of Russian S-400 missile system and Rafale fighter jets from France), Bullet train, infrastructure development like construction of highways, elevated highways and bridges across India are some of the examples of it. 

Some of these changes are visible. Some of them are either not completed, or they failed to produce the desired result due to inadequate funding. ‘Swacha Bharath’ is an initiative which did not produce desired result due to inadequate funding and lack of cooperation from public.
The union minister for road transport and highways, Nitin Gadkari once said that more than 50% of National highways we see in India were constructed during the six years rule of late. Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It is the same pace at which the present prime minister Modi wants to bring development in all spheres. So we cannot blame union government for inadequate funding. 

Many of us blame our country for lack of rules and legal framework. Hundreds of bills were passed and several new laws came into effect in the last eight years, starting from ‘Real estate regulatory amendment bill’, ‘GST’, till ‘Agnipath’ and ‘new labour code’. New farm law and NRC were among those which were rolled back due to dumb protests organised by opposition. We should have the exact headcount of our citizens and NRC should be acceptable for all of us. 

So, it is a massive overhaul in policies for business, administration, infrastructure development, climate change, technology and over all development of the country. And we all should appreciate our union government for their achievements. 

In India the two major ideological political parties are the Communist and the BJP. BJP’s ideology has got to do more with capitalism, Hinduism and Ramayana. On the other hand, Communism is against both capitalism and religious polarization. Communist theories talks more about class struggles and secular values. They are known as party of the poor working class. In India, if RSS were to be the ideological mentor for BJP, then the Communist is the ideological mentor for the rest of the secular parties. Would you believe me, if I were to say that our union government is following the legacy of Shah Jahan and other ancient Indian kings? Not just the union government, even their rivals in opposition are following the legacy of Shah Jahan and other ancient rulers who were part of the feudal system. 

India ranked 101 out of the 116 countries in Global hunger index 2021. Global hunger index scores are based on data and estimates for four component indicators; under nourishment, child stunting, child wasting and under-five mortality.
We all have reasons to believe that three meal a day is a challenge for thousands of Indians, even when we celebrate 75 years of Independence (Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav). flamesofdissent.com published an article on 20 April 2022; ‘Hyperbolic numbers and deceptive figures’. I mentioned in that article that a hungry child going to school for mid-day meal shouldn’t be considered as being rich. It wasn’t an exaggeration. The government and the ministers said this repeatedly and you can find them in news if you do a research. Only the way they say it makes people take it lightly. ‘Mid-day meal scheme' helped in bringing back many who were drop out’. ‘Mid-day meal scheme improves attendance in government schools’, are the statements made by the government. You can also read them in the objective of Mid-day meal scheme in government website. The second objective talks more or less the same.

In 2013, Sonia Gandhi proposed National Food Security Bill. On 10 September 2013, National Food Security Act (NFSA) was enacted by UPAII government led by prime minister Manmohan Singh. If NFSA was implemented properly, then we shouldn’t have been 101 in Global hunger index 2021. 

NFSA legally entitles up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidized food grains under the targeted public distribution system. It aims to cover two third of the population to receive highly subsidized food grains. The government website states that as of 04 July 2022, 80 crore persons have been covered under NFSA, out of the maximum coverage of 81.34 crore. So, it’s time for the government to rethink.
Union government asked people to give up subsidy on cooking gas and many did so. Later, the government cancelled cooking gas subsidy for all. Now the subsidy on cooking gas is available only for those who got free cooking gas connection through Pradhan Mantri Ujjwal Yojana. This means, there are many households living below poverty line (BPL) and are not eligible for subsidy on cooking gas. And when you visit fair price shop, you will see people coming there in car worth 2-15 lakhs, they live in multi-story building with air conditioner and they buy rice at ₹12 per Kg. The government spends ₹30 for each kilogram of rice, other than the transportation cost. The same rice is given for BPL card holders for ₹2, which is acceptable. But, do we really need to give subsidy of ₹18 to ₹20 or even more for people who probably spend ₹500 to ₹1000 a day for fish, meat and wine? Even if the government could identify and deny subsidy for 20 to 30% of existing beneficiaries who are relatively wealthier, then it will help our country to end starvation and hunger. Fair price shops can be extended till the last mile. All tribal hamlets and remote villages can be covered under NFSA and it would still remain within the maximum coverage limit of NFSA, which is 81.34 crore persons. The eligibility criteria for food subsidy should be income, bank balance and assets owned by households. Ironically, I don’t see any communists, opposition leaders, or the ruling party leaders raising this concern.

Another disturbing area of concern is that we come across news about thousands of tonnes of food grains rotting in food corporation of India (FCI) godowns due to poor storage facility. The most recent report in ‘India Today' was about 40,000 tonnes of food grains damaged in FCI godowns in six years. We make the poor in our country die due to starvation, while we wish to have buffer stock and end up wasting food grains. There can’t be anything more shameful than this. Such news appears in media time and again. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any serious attempt to change this in the last eight years. 

FCI godowns across India needs to be modernised to store food grains safely and to avoid wastage. There should be a way to keep rodents away from godowns. A centralised online data should be maintained about quantity, date of harvesting, details about preservatives used if any and for how long the grains are good for human consumption, if stored without any preservatives. FCI godowns should be inspected by concerned officer periodically and the same should be entered in the digital ledger. This will help government to know the exact stock. It helps to avoid wastage and will bring accountability.

More than 65% of our population are into agriculture. The poor peasants are exploited by the middlemen and traders, who are roughly 5% of our population. And the union government is allowing this to continue by paying ₹500 a month to farmers. The union government is paying ₹6000 to farmers in three instalments in a year. The amount spent by government so far is huge enough to build necessary infrastructure to help farmers market their farm produces profitably. People pay exorbitant price for agricultural produces and what farmers get is chicken feed. And the union government will compensate to farmers using public money in the way of ₹6000 a year and loan waiver. 

The union and state government’s are not doing enough to reduce tax on fuel. An increased fuel price could mean, increase in price of vegetables, fruits, food grains and essential commodities like medicines. Poorest among the poor are the worst affected at any given time due to price rise and Inflation. Inflation pushes more people into poverty. The poor whose purchasing power is limited will limit the purchase of food and other essential commodities due to price rise. Then we have people who would reduce expenditure owing to price rise to have enough to repay home, car and bike loans. The middle class will only blame for not having enough for investment. Price rise and Inflation will not affect those above middle class in their personal life, but it will affect their business. BJP MP Subramanian Swamy said, ‘financing budget deficit by raising fuel price is sheer incompetence. It is the intellectual bankruptcy of the finance ministry'.Dr. Swamy was a professor of Economics at Harvard.

The union government is increasing the price for essential services like railway platform ticket which went from ₹2 to ₹50. Recently the union government cancelled the subsidy given to senior citizens on railway tickets. Union government of India, the BJP leaders and supporters will justify it saying that it’s our contribution for nation building. They should know that the rising price can topple government.

Inflation was one of the reason for the UPA’s defeat in 2014 parliamentary election. Look at the above picture to see the current inflation rate being close to what it was in 2014. It is very likely to go up further. The pandemic and the war in Ukraine is affecting the global economy. It is causing inflation, price rise and increased cost of living globally. It is affecting even the developed countries like USA and UK. A new report published by the UN development programme (UNDP) on 7 July 2022 warned; 'the global cost of living crisis is pushing an additional 71 million people in the world’s poorest countries into extreme poverty’.

The union government is talking loud about the Central Vista project. They are proud about completion of work as planned despite pandemic and heavy rain. Central Vista is a redevelopment project which includes a new triangular parliament building, a common central secretariat, a new prime minister’s residence, a new prime minister’s office, a new vice-president’s enclave and the revamping of the 3 kilometres long Rajpath from Vijay Chowk to India gate. The estimated cost of the project is ₹861.90 crores.

India has undertaken 500 development projects in 64 countries. Over 240 projects are underway and more than 300 projects have been completed. India has extended line of credit to 64 countries worth $30.66 billion. It is spent on infrastructure development projects like power generation and distribution, construction of railway line, roads and ports, agriculture, etc. Bangladesh, Myanmar, Butan, Srilanka, Afghanistan, Africa, Mongolia and Iran are the recipients of Indian aid. Among them, 11 billion dollar assistance to Africa in the last ten years, 400 projects in Afghanistan, 1 billion dollars credit line to Mongolia to develop an air corridor and $500 million to Iran to develop Chabahar port are the most significant ones. 

Some of these investments are part of strategy to resist China and an attempt to create an image that India is more reliable partner than China. We Indians should be proud about it. But who is paying for it? It is the money earned by pushing more Indians into poverty.
The union government is also giving lot of incentives to attract investment in India. For example: 15 companies selected under 2nd Round of PLI Scheme for White Goods

This means, the union government has something to make everyone happy. And they are not bothered about the poor farmers and the working class.

I have explained few issues which affects the lives of millions in our country. Unfortunately, the opposition parties in India and their ideological mentor the communist is least bothered to do anything about it. We see ‘all India trade unions' calling for two days strike across India, when Indian National Congress failed in elections in ten states in the last one year. Then there was protest when Rahul Gandhi was questioned by Enforcement officers in National Herald case which involves money laundering. They choose to make statements when farmers and students protested. They drive students into the streets for NRC and Agnipath. They send hooligans to create violence after driving students into the streets. So, do you agree with me that the present politicians in India are following the legacy of Shah Jahan? The legacy of ancient Indian rulers where they exploit the poorest among poor and continue to widen the gap between the poor and the rich. 

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