THE majority of the country, especially the pundits, failed to realise that the ‘real’ change in the 2014 election wasn’t the emergence of a ‘new face’ or return of the BJP. It signified the beginning of the transformation of the seven-decade-old Indian polity, which would naturally enmesh with radical and disruptive social and economic changes. Narendra Modi’s was a call for ‘total change’, the construction of a ‘New India’, and a kind of a body-politic somersault. More importantly, his implementation was ‘sudden’.
Most cataclysmic changes in a nation’s body-politic, which are intrinsically intertwined with social and economic transformation, should be gradual. The dosage has to be increases mg by mg. In this, the strongest medicine was administered in the beginning. Hence, it came with a lot of pain, uneasiness and unacceptability. The nation had no time to acclimatise to the change of guard at Raisina Hill. It’s only now, in its fourth year, that the body-politic is getting used to a new era of a ‘strong’ and different medicine. In its fifth year, in 2019, the 21st century prescription will be followed by a mini-surgery in the form of the next national election. Only in mid-2019 will we get to know if the combination of the medicine-plus-surgery have, and will, lead to a complete social transformation, the ethos of which aren’t intrinsic to the BJP, but imported and inculcated from the RSS. But, the country, at present, is caught between several deep and embedded struggles. The first is between the old secular social order and the new one dictated by the BJP’s ideological parent. The society has to instantly adapt to this with clear-cut objectives.
But what should these overriding objectives be? Should they focus on the economic ethos dictated by the new world order? Or should they prioritise the ‘Indian’ way of social change? Economic philosophy is rooted in facts, numbers, figures and statistics. How much did the economy grow by; what is the fiscal deficit; what’s the expenditure on welfare schemes; what’s the increase in revenues due to GST? Social transformation is based on inherent societal desires, dreams and aspirations. So, what should the nation’s priorities be in the immediate term?
Clearly, the policies, actions and decisions should look at issues such as employment, education, health, social infrastructure and environment, i.e. those connected to economics. This is especially true given the country’s ‘young’ demographics. If the youth don’t get such benefits, or perceive that they are getting them, the civil situation can fly out of control. The biggest crisis will be if the young don’t get what they desire, and demand, at the stage, or age, when they require it. For the government, the main problem lies with resources. The fact is that there is a crunch, and the coffers aren’t full enough to quickly address these issues. Is the RSS-BJP combine willing to pay the allied costs of a socio-economic transformation? At the same time, it’s ‘now or never’ for Modi, his A-Team, BJP and the RSS. If they cannot implement the ‘homogenised’ social ethos and cannot achieve what they have promised, they will find it difficult to provide answers to their ‘core’ and ‘peripheral’ constituencies.
Worse, social change without accompanying economic change can lead to an internal disruption. This can result in civil chaos and conflict. Hence, it is imperative that after the experiences of the past four years, Modi establishes a clear socio-economic-political roadmap for the nation in 2018. It is to be seen whether the country’s social fabric remains static or dynamic. More important, if the society finds itself in the grip of a forced vibrancy, the contour and shape of the national election in 2019 will be vastly different from what we witnessed in 2014.
VOL. 11 | ISSUE 10 | Jan 2018