Posted by: John Elliott | February 11, 2011

India’s protection against Tahrir Square style rebellions

Questions have frequently been asked in India during the past three weeks about whether the type of uprising seen in Cairo’s Tahrir Square could happen here, with a street-level rebellion occupying a city centre and spreading across the country to such a degree that it topples the national government.

Surely, it is generally said, India’s democratic systems, though flawed, make the country immune to such social and political upheavals. As a last resort, India’s non-political army could step in as a benign temper-calming longstop, as it does from time to time around the country.

India, people say correctly, is not an autocracy, so surely it has enough checks and balances in its parliamentary system to stop such an event happening. Indeed the nearest thing to an autocracy is the Congress Party under Sonia Gandhi, who heads the governing coalition and whose dynastic writ crosses swathes of government policy. Along with her heir-apparent son Rahul, she is however a directly-elected member of the parliament’s Lok Sabha (lower house), and her influence on the country depends on Congress winning national parliamentary and state assembly elections.

To an outsider, India must seem ripe for an Egypt-style eruption. Its parliament is frequently closed down by political rows, as happened for almost the whole of the pre-Christmas winter session. Its governing coalition is rudderless and steeped in corruption, and the ineffective opposition is so irresponsible and desperate to gain attention that it even tried to whip up unrest in the riot-prone state of Kashmir over whether the national flag should be flown on Republic Day.

More than 300m people live on a dollar a day or less, and twice that number on less than $2. Food prices have been rising at 18%. There has been frequent regional unrest over the poor losing their land to rampant speculation and industrial development, and top judges and army generals have joined politicians and other officials in building up illicit personal wealth.

The young are restless and ambitious and, though many are enjoying an upwardly mobile lifestyle that their parents could only dream about when they were young, many are underemployed or just without work, even after some form of tertiary education. Those under 35 account for about 60% of the 1.1bn population and, like Egypt’s youth, they are heavily into electronic communications and social media. Some have not just one but two cell phones – there are over 750m mobiles in use in the country.

Anti-corruption rally at Delhi's Jantar Mantar - India Today photo

This leads to two questions. First, what sort of subjects could trigger a rebellion? Second, could there be a national rebellion and, if not, could government-threatening uprisings develop in individual states, and might that lead to nation-wide contagion.

Land is most likely to trigger unrest, as has been seen in many parts of the country, notably in West Bengal’s violent eruptions that started four years ago over a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Nandigram and a Tata Motors factory at Singur. (Both projects were abandoned.)

The trouble starts with small farmers and landless labourers giving up land they have held for generations. They often waste the small amounts they are paid and then see developers making massive profits in later deals. Tribal people lose their village land in mineral-rich forests and mountains to companies like Vedanta, a controversial UK-based mining company, and to many more Indian operators that move in illegally with the support of local politicians and officials.

When 25,000 landless workers marched to the edge of Delhi in November 2007, I wrote on this blog that land “looks like becoming India’s most explosive social issue in the future, as those who benefit from land grabs become more greedy and those who lose out feel even further left behind”.

Until now however, democratic forces have calmed protests, negating chances of a mass rebellion. West Bengal has had all the seeds for a popular uprising after 30-plus years of rule by an increasingly corrupt and self-serving Communist-based Left Front state government. The Nandigram and Singur unrest was encouraged for political reasons by Mamata Banerjee, leader of the regional Trinamool Congress opposition party, and was inflamed by Maoist Naxalite rebels.

Democracy has now asserted itself in two ways. Mamata Banerjee hopes to oust the Left in state elections due in April this year. And Mrs Gandhi said during the protests over Nandigram and other SEZs that agricultural land should not be grabbed for development. That was a good and positive example of her influence, and it halted many projects as well as quelling the unrest. Since then, national and state governments have been working on new policies to give those who lose their land a permanent stake in industrial and mining developments, though progress is slow.

Corruption

Corruption is another potential issue, but millions of people enjoy the spoils down through the system to village level (which is why 70% or more of economic aid is lost in transit), so it arouses condemnation and protest demonstrations (see pic above), but not potential revolt. Anger about corruption is also defused by elections, which politicians frequently lose if they are perceived themselves to have benefited excessively. Lalu Prasad Yadav, the once-jailed former long-term chief minister of Bihar, who was involved in multi-million dollar scams but did nothing for mass development, was trounced for a second time in state elections last year after his successor had smartened up the state’s performance.

Much is forgiven if there is development. Corrupt leaders of two parties, the DMK and AIADMK, have between them run Tamil Nadu state assembly coalitions continuously for 44 years. Operating in the style of Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, they have led strong economic, social and industrial development (including respectable SEZs). At the same time, their relations and friends have been awarded jobs and business contracts in the state and ministerial posts in Delhi – as has been dramatically evident in India’s current telecoms scam. This may not be ethical government, but it is a model of development that works.

The biggest threat to India of course comes from Maoist Naxalites, who are active in a third of the country’s districts and conduct armed terrorist attacks that security forces have not been able to quell. Home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram admitted recently that the two sides had reached “a stalemate”. The rebels thrive in tribal and other under-privileged areas where there is a lack of development and where India’s often-brutal security forces and forest officers harass the poor. They have yet to gain a hold in an urban area, though they occupied Lalgarh, 100 miles from Kolkata, in 2009.

Social issues

There are of course other major social issues, as well as ethnic and religious clashes, that cause often-violent riots, for which India is famous. But the size and diversity of this voluble and argumentative country means it is very difficult to build a unified view on anything, and the main Hindu religion does not unify people to anything like the same extent as Islam. Protests usually peter out once the demonstrators have been placated with promises, or the vested interests that encouraged and facilitated them have achieved their political, monetary or other targets. Most recently, Gujjar tribals who blocked road and rail access between Delhi and Rajasthan for days at the end of December, eventually went home with just vague promises of action on their demands for economic advancement.

None of these issues is likely to lead to a nation-wide rebellion in Delhi. If the Gujjars or the 2007 landless had broken through police barricades and got to the centre of Delhi, there could have been bloody clashes, but they would not have been joined by the hundreds of thousands of motivated youth needed to challenge the structure of government. Indeed, a recent survey suggests that the youth are “highly risk averse, more politically right-wing than before, extremely socially conservative and disinclined to opt for rebellion”.

Another factor negating national unrest is the fact that different regions of India have different priorities. Patrick French recently told me that the questions he was asked in the south on his Portrait of India new book tour focussed much more on business issues than on Delhi’s preoccupation with politics. Concern about India-Pakistan rows similarly seems to dwindle as one travels south. And perceptions of corruption, as I said above, varies.

Kolkata's Victoria Park and Memorial

Since independence, no event has united the country in protest. Two of the worst outbreaks were based on religious divisions. North India’s anti-Sikh riots were encouraged after Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984 by leading Congress politicians but, after a few days retribution, the government stepped in.

Anti-Muslim riots at the end of 1992 after the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya faded away after some weeks. In the far north-east states such as Assam and Nagaland, there have been local uprisings for years which have no resonance or impact elsewhere. Even 21 years of unrest in Kashmir has been largely contained to that state.

It looks therefore as if there is no prospect of Tahrir Square being replayed in Delhi’s majestic Raj Path that leads past parliament to the presidential palace, nor even in the traditional Jantar Mantar protest area (photo above) off Parliament Street. Regionally it will not happen at Shivaji Park in the commercial capital of Mumbai, where Hindu and Marathi chauvinist demonstrations are held, nor in Bangalore where there are frequent Hindu-Muslim clashes and one of the country’s most corrupt state governments.

But, if democratic forces continue to fail to serve the people of West Bengal better, might the Naxalites draw closer to Kolkata’s Victoria Park (above) that houses the monumental Victoria Memorial? That would be a neat location in the former imperial capital for an uprising by the poor about how badly they have fared since the British left.


Responses

  1. […] few weeks ago, I argued in this blog that the sort of protests that unseated governments in the Middle East could not do the same in India. I said that, while […]

  2. This thread is ridiculous. Does the prospect of armed rebellion everywhere get you “excited”? Turn your attention back home to GB. Last I heard people over there were shitting their pants over babies named mohammad.

  3. The simple Indian may have voted Mrs Gandhi out, but yet exercised no real
    choice. For a democracy to work, real choice is needed, not the kind of “heads, you lose; tails, I win” choice. Though BJP got a chance to govern after Mrs Gandhi’s routing at the polls, the basic culture of misgovernment and corruption could not be altered. The reason: the will is lacking.

    Looking at Arun Shourie’s recent revelations in his interview on “swallow and vomit journalism” (with Karan Thapar), it appears to me that the the whistleblower and Shourie were both thwarted not only by the Cong govt, but also by BJP unwilling to act on the right side. The question is not whether Shourie is an angel. The larger issue becoming increasingly clear is that there is no third force, and not even one organized party which truly has the interests of the nation at heart.

    So, will there be a Tahrir square ? The nation is divided criss cross along religious lines, along caste lines, linguistic lines and ideological lines. These petty affiliations, the struggle of the poor for daily bread and upward mobility, the callousness of the media, and devil may care attitude of the powerful elite, have all combined to produce a morass in India that seems like quicksand, so without hope ! Even though its time has come, I am doubtful that there will ever be a Tahrir square in India !

    Many Indians seem to come to the same conclusive “no” answer, much like mine, but by asserting that India is a democracy with strong institutions (oft heard) and that, therefore, there isn’t the need for a Tahrir square in India. Let me ask: If all these institutions could be hijacked for over a year, and the hijack drama is still in progress and continues to be inconclusive, can we really claim to have a functioning democracy with strong institutions ? Or, do we have just an illusion of it ?

    If one is satisified with having the illusion in place of the real thing, well that’s beyond hope — and I suspect that’s the case with a lot of us Indian citizens who have never seen anything better.

    As one argument goes, this is better than the British Raj because it is one of our own who is looting us !

  4. Maybe it’ll start from telangana

    Jai telangana onlee

  5. Egypt was ruled by a Dictator for the past 30 years & Mubarak was grooming his son to take over from him, Mubarak was evil whilst his son was worst, the people feared the son more, so they had no alternative but to revolt as his son was expected to take over in September 2011.
    When I was in Egypt not too long ago I heard this story which goes something like this….the son wanted to buy a Merz from a Dealer in Cairo & the Dealer would not dare take any $ from his son & told his son to just take the Merz and go!! But the son insisted that he pays, so the Dealer says $10 to which the son gave $100 an expected the balance of $90 which the Dealer did not have a change…guess what in the end after discussion wit his dad he took 10 cars!! Did such things happen here??

  6. True the level of corruption makes India vulnerable. but that will never happen. Because this is a free society with a free press ( rather loud but very free), a fiercely independenet judiciary. This was seen when Mrs gandhi tried her Emergency and was put in her place by the simple Indian.

    A bigger reason is that India is a Hindu nation whose Holy Book Vedas says right at the beginning ” Let noble thoughts come to us from all quarters”

    It is this great tolerance which makes us welcome John Elliot and keep him in our hearts without any anger though he belongs to a country which ruled us for 250 years and tried their best to decimate our ancient culture.

  7. In india if there is rebellion what should we ask for ? A democratic setup (which is there now ) is the best available in world today.

    For corruption and caste issues and all these stuff, every Indian like me is responsible. If I reform, and if everyone reforms, India will be a heaven !

  8. You have used two wonderful terms in your analysis i.e. ‘argumentative indian’ and ‘protest area’; then what for rebellions meant? Average indian do fight with injustice, corruption etc on daily basis and tries his best. But after that he leave it to destiny in philosophical manner. This element of metaphysics help to negate worse and to generate hope for future.

    India by its composition is never going to have rebellion on economic reasons as it has taken birth from 250 years exploitation of british rule and we are better than that now. Apart from that , the tolerance limit is high.

    Yes, rebellion could take place if metaphysical existence is challenged by some forces. And it can be done by religious fundamentalists. But religions are also based on metaphysics.
    So no alternative to indian but to believe in destiny and live peacefully.

  9. there’s a shorter version of this article on The Independent (UK) newspaper’s blog site – below are a selection of comments posted there….

    Surinderjit Singh 5 hours ago

    • While we have seen in past many states rebellions so much so to a level of taking arms to fight for their rights, e.g. Assam, Nagaland, Punjab, Kashmir …..etc.etc…..
    Therefore its just a matter of time before things shall become obvious…..however, why past REBELLION FAILED ?

    You need to understand INDIA before Rebellions are brought into picture.
    INDIA was gifted and carved by UK in 1947, india in past centuries have never existed what exists now. Question is what is keeping wide diverse india intact, it is only holding itself due to being POLICE STATE!

    1984 GENOCIDE, 2002 MASSACRE, KASHMIR/ASSAM killings…..and so on….and so forth!
    There is absolutely no accountability by INDIA on November 1984 GENOCIDE = 0 convicted! YES ZERO CONVICTED!

    When the value of LIFE is lost and HR/CR rights are abducted/hijacked then it’s no longer DEMO-CRACY but DEMON-CRACY…….that is what is going to start fission reaction.

    You can’t keep holding on for long by enforcing FORCE/POLICE-STATE to people!

    Dilip Barad 6 hours ago

    • It is not ture that ‘since independence, no event united country in protest’ – the Nav Nirman (Re-invention) movement was a socio-political movement that occurred in 1974 in Gujarat. It started of as an argument over a 20% hike in hostel food bill in the L.D. College of Engineering, but ignited an agitation which later snowballed into a major public agitation that eventually led to the fall of the Gujarat state government and aggravated a national crisis which led Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to impose a state of emergency. (wikipedia)

    Bipin 7 hours ago

    • why talk about india? this applies to uk and so many other european countries where prices are sky rocketing, politicians are lininig their pockets, people are taxed to their death. remember the revolution got rid of the thatcher government so talk about revolution and get rid of the liberal and conservative government.

    Brabander 10 hours ago

    • RajX,
    Do not worry about FirstAdvisor. He is just an unreconstructed xenophobic.
    I have a lot of respect for hard working Indians but India needs to address three major issues:
    1. The serious inequality in its society (possibly the worst of any major nations in the world)
    2. The unacceptable level of corruption (India is not unique in this)
    3. The attitude that second rate is OK in many of its local businesses

    RajX 9 hours ago in reply to Brabander

    • I agree with all three major issues you pointed out.
    Regarding 1 , after liberalization , the middle class has grown significantly and that’s a fact confirmed by the interest of international companies in India as a market and not as just another cheap labour pool. But it’s also a fact that significant number of people are not enjoying the fruits of the countries economic progress.

    Regarding 3, Indian companies now know that they have to compete if they want to survive since they now have to fight with companies from outside for the same market since liberalization has opened the doors to competition from foreign firms. This has definitely made a difference in the attitude of people working in these Indian companies. This is very noticeable in the hi-tech companies. There are a bunch of Indian companies which are truly world class.

    Point 2 is the greatest challenge in my opinion since it deals with reforming not just politics but even societal attitude towards corruption. Some recent developments like expose of big corruption scandals and prosecution of major political figures gives me hope that this situation will improve too.

    nv1 12 hours ago

    • That India’s poor have been seriously let down by her ruling elite since Independence is not in question. Even a cursory understanding of their plight tells us that But to imply that they have fared particularly poorly since the British cut and run in 1947 is to disregard the overwhelming evidence that points to the progress free India has made since that year.

    Take a look at any of the indices of growth since 1947. Literacy rates, stagnant until Independence, shoot up after the British leave. Similarly, industrial and agricultural growth go up, hunger and maternal mortality rates drop. All benefit India’s poor.
    Let us tell India’s poor (and her ‘middle-class’) of the exported grain despite drought and famine which led to the deaths of many millions of poor in the 1940s, and how she took a laissez faire attitude to such disasters in the 19th century. Tell them how she Quit India so quickly at Partition she let another million die in the ensuing violence. An extractive colonial power, she took more from than she ever gave to India’s poor.

    That British colonisation of India was benign and beneficial to all is an untruth. It is a fantasy that exists in the mind of a few Britons who still ache for the power and prestige of Empire, and in the minds of a few Indians who wish to place the European at the top of their own personal little caste system. It is truly a regret that India had ‘an Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste…’ as her first Prime Minister, thus depriving her of a period of reflection, analysis and criticism of the time known as the Raj.

    Is there a huge amount yet to be achieved at all levels of Indian society? Absolutely. Would India’s teeming masses have fared better under the British? Absolutely not.

    NV, London

    Ian Watson 10 hours ago in reply to nv1

    • The famine’s catastrophic effect could have been avoided but Churchill refused to allow merchantmen to sail to the Bangladeshi ports to give them succour and so many people died as a result of that simple edict.

    Imran 14 hours ago

    • The thought did cross my mind, whether this could happen in India. I was specially wondering that if Mubarak with a tinier economy compared to Egypt is worth maybe $ 70 billion, then how much would the Most “Power”ful politician in India be worth. $

    V 17 hours ago

    • India will implode soon with rising food and oil price in the next few years. The various social problems – over-population, poverty and corruption creates a ideal recruitment ground for Maoist Naxalites. They will spread eventually to cities and cannot see any political parties in India tackling the various problems. I always thought India should be split – North India & Central India – Hindi speaking and South India – Dravidian cultures. India is concept of colonial power.

    akenyeho 17 hours ago

    • Egypt-like upheaval is next to impossible in a country like India, where the so called democracy has been deeply rooted.

    N Balajhi 17 hours ago

    • I was thinking on similar lines yesterday. India’s democracy is the biggest antidote to mass protest against ineffective and corrupt governments. Though it is not an autocracy, people in power are dangerous and certainly they are growing intolerant to criticisms. Take for example, the spectrum scam that’s been rocking parliament and India, was kept out of new by major dailies in Tamil Nadu, because they are either aligned to ruling DMK or not ready face the wrath of DMK. Here too murderers (politicians and their kin) go scot free. Supreme court is one institution that we Indians have lot of faith but even that was blemished by the recently retired chief justice C.J.Balakrishnan.

    Democracy only gives you power to ‘vote out’ and ‘vote in’. When your choices are devil and bigger devil, it is no better than dictatorship. Just that dictators keep changing. There is greater intolerance and terrible corruption among Indian politicians, bureaucrats and the business class.

    FirstAdvisor 17 hours ago

    • This is silly analysis, without the faintest basis in fact. Indians are far too fatalistic, apathetic, and lazy to ever riot for long about anything, or even to ever care much about something as trivial as politics. At the same time, it’s far too hot to ever get really excited about much in India. Getting enough Indians together in one place for long enough to have any effect on a government would be impossible, like herding cats.

    Ian Watson 10 hours ago in reply to FirstAdvisor

    • The Duke of Wellington’s appraisal of the Indian people would serve as a better idea, he considered them far more formidable than the Spanish or the French and they gave him a hard time in his fight with the princedoms.

    And you say they are apathetic but in 1849, they rose up and massacred a huge amount of British people over there, the mutiny shocked the British empire as did the British reprisal that saw Queen Victoria herself intervene and demand that British soldiers that committed atrocity were to be punished most severely.

    I find the comment somewhat ignorant of the Indian people, they are a hard working people and perhaps their only real failing is the continuance of the archaic caste system, one of the few nations on earth where you can literally be born as a nobody and treated worse than a leper all your life.

    FirstAdvisor 10 hours ago in reply to Ian Watson

    • Your analysis is interesting but your analogy is false. In the first place the Sikhs were already trained and armed soldiers, not amateur rebels. Second in importance, all fighting was put off until after the hot and monsoon seasons, as is always inevitable in India, and yet another reason rebellion is simply impossible to imagine, on the basis of simple practicality. Third, as an extension of two, the fighting only lasted six months, about the maximum fighting can last in India, and another practical reason rebellion is pragmatically impossible. Finally, the mutiny was a purely localized occurence, not a nation-wide revolt, absolute proof that your comparison is invalid.

    I can assure you that my comment is not ignorant. The Indians have never been capable of the extended warfare necessary to accomplish a revolution, not for 2,500 years. Pick a less emotionally loaded word for their national character if you wish. The fact remains that the Indians are congenitally unable, by character, to maintain a concerted effort towards any objective that requires hard, determined work. Six months of hard work is the most they can handle, before they lose interest and motivation. The mountain ranges of evidence from their long history proves it.

    nv1 7 hours ago in reply to FirstAdvisor

    • You confuse me with your argument, FirstAdvisor. A false analogy? Where?

    If calling a halt to war due to the climate is inevitable, can it also be due to apathy? (Haven’t all generals in history taken into consideration the weather?) If, because of this, fighting can only last for six months in India (!), then are the people still to be labelled ‘congenitally unable, by character’ (itself a contradiction in terms) to maintain a concerted effort? Please explain – you make little sense.

    Furthermore, are you unable to think of any Indian who sustained a revolutionary movement which lasted significantly longer than six months? Someone celebrated the world over who motivated 340 million of his countrymen to freedom. Still can’t think of even one..?

    The mountain ranges that exist in history exist in reality too. They are the ones that separate India from your nation, FirstAdvisor. It is good to hear an opinion from the Middle Kingdom, a freedom denied to so many there. The animosity the Chinese direct towards India is not unique – it is also being felt by the Japanese, the Vietnamese, South Koreans, Americans and Taiwanese. Perhaps you direct your ire towards India today because an Indian, who lived about 2,600 years ago, still speaks so clearly, honestly and powerfully to swathes of your people, loudly enough to make them want to rebel. They certainly do not show signs of losing interest nor motivation in their efforts.

    FirstAdvisor 7 hours ago in reply to nv1

    • I am not Chinese. The brainlessness of your false conclusion is very amusing, and highly indicative of your basic intelligence. The inevitability of Indians who stop fighting in heat and rain is solely due to their character. No other people in the world have ever stopped a war in mid-campaign because it was too hot or rainy. Only the Indians. Congenitally unable by character is not a contradiction; character is just as inheritable as intelligence; you simply don’t have the IQ points to understand the relation.

    Your apparent argument that Gandhi was fighting a war is fatuous. As far as I recall, he never did anything more strenuous than sitting around and talking in his underwear. Your use of Gandhi as a supposed refutation of my argument is so dumb it’s breathtaking.

    I’m talking about mountain ranges of evidence in volume and density, not a real, physical mountain range. What I write makes perfect sense, you just don’t have the brains to understand it. Your lack of intelligence isn’t my fault or responsibility. Your perplexity and confusion is your failure, not mine.

  10. Some great points made here. I would argue, however, that India’s most significant grievances are to be found in the countryside and despite the wealth of problems experienced in the cities, there is still a sense of progress and relative opportunity in the urban areas. Rural grievances are less likely to lead to spontaneous uprisings for a number of structural reasons, which I talk about in this article if anyone’s interested:
    http://www.currentintelligence.net/subcontinental/2011/2/11/whats-stopping-the-indian-revolution.html
    India is more likely to see gradual, planned and localised revolts along the lines of the Maoist insurgency than the sort of thing witnessed in Egypt.

  11. One of the things one hears about in MEA countries is the concept of “the blocked elite”. That is to say that whilst inequality statistics and developmental metrics look similar to that of India, education could not be used as a tool for emancipation in the region or only by a very very small minority. That is to say only a small fraction of the population in Egypt or Tunisia could participate in 7 per cent GDP growth, and whilst it would be false to argue that India’s economic growth is fully inclusive, a large number of people have benefited, more importantly education has always been a tool that could be used to move from low income to middle class even prior to economic reforms. There is no such thing as the “blocked elite” in this country, and to my knowledge there never has been.

    The point being made is that whilst there are a number of specific problems that the post mentions, none of them have the sort of mass appeal or universality of near total repression of the majority that is necessary for an national uprising to occur in a country like India or for that matter other countries.

    It is impossible to generalise in India, and it would be false to do so, but one could make the argument that the sense of hopelessness is India is less than that of say Egypt or Tunisia, that there is a feeling that the economic boom means that opportunities do exist, though it is fair to say not everyone feels that way.

    More importantly, with the odd exception, India has generally free and fair elections where anti-incumbency a lot of the times wins the day, implicit in the kind of democracy present in India, is knowledge by the electorate that their consent was required and that there is a mechanism to change the political leadership which does not require violence or popular uprising.

    Could a popular national uprising occur in India? anything can happen in India, but certain conditions would need to be fulfilled first, the most important of which is the social issue being protested needs to be near universally reviled.

  12. The aim of the Egyptian protesters was to remove a leader of 30 years, Issues such as lack of development, corruption, even Israel, became very secondary. In India, governments change regularly and issues are freely voiced — although in too many cases neither of those liberties better people’s lives. Therefore, I suspect, there will be no Tahrir Square, but a Tet Offensive style attack by Maoists on Calcutta may be a more likely scenario.

  13. Corruption will be the second case for uprising in India. The problem is with growth, the corruption is also growing. Aam aadmi’s chalta hai attitude is fueling the corruption. But I strongly believe that the young generation of India can and will stop this. It will reach a tipping point soon. Whenever I visit my home town (I am a NRI), my blood boils to see the how the local corrupt politician is blowing up public money on his birthday party and how he is making life of small business man a hell by asking a “hafta”.

  14. sorry for flooding the comment section.
    but i have revised my view on the youth survey after reading the actual survey.
    (the last comment was after just reading sagarika ghosh’s column.)

    assuming the survey reflects the true picture –

    you (and sagarika) wrote :
    youth are “highly risk averse, more politically right-wing than before, extremely socially conservative and disinclined to opt for rebellion”.

    56% seems to be preferring some carriers which involve low to high risk .
    only 44% are into govt. and MNC jobs.

    how does one conclude whether youth of today is more or less right wing than the previous generations? do we have some survey from ’50s or ’70s?
    even according to this survey 70% are non-right wing.

    extremely socially conservative – ???
    in a traditionally conservative country like india ;
    50% says pre-martial sex is not a big issue!
    35% are not seeking virginity in their would be spouses!
    37% are ok with live in relationship!
    23% accepts homosexuality!
    10% are atheists!

    i would love to see a survey on these issues from ’70s . 😀

  15. the “youth survey”, if it presents true picture , is not exactly encouraging.
    though i must say i have rather low opinion on surveys that indian media conducts so many times a month.

  16. Timely and interesting. Land is a major issue even if some 10% farmers leave the villages every decade to move to urban areas. They sell land but can be angered if they learn that the land is resold at much higher prices. Mamta Banerjee has however shown that it is very easy to stir up a crowd of agitating farmers even if few of them are directly affected.

    Corruption does not affect the people or voters for whom corruption is as commonplace as the polluted air they breathe. Witness how the BJP won the municipal elections despite Yedyurappa’s corruption. Corruption is however a great issue with the rival political parties.

    Both issues are powerful but not enough to paralyse the nation.

  17. While I fully agree with the contention that India has built in cushion- democracy, howevr flawed it could be, against the kind of uprising what we are witnessing in Egypt, I feel there are some issues which have potential to trigger that kind of reaction in the country. They are abysmally low standards of governance and corruption. Indian poor are very resilient and can tolerate but if you deny them the opportunity for development , because of low standars of governance and corruption, I feel they may not take it for long. Any comments ?


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