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Home , , � Animal Farm and the current political landscape of India

Animal Farm and the current political landscape of India


I've just finished reading The Animal Farm, and while it essentially describes conditions in USSR under Stalin just after the WW2, it can be generalised to any country or political setup a few years or cycles after a major change. It is not just a commentary on Communist or totalitarian regimes (or Stalin's period) alone, but also a general account of how every political system deteriorates over a period of time, after acquiring power.

In specific, I think, it starts applying to present day India, now that the BJP has occupied the top slot in the pecking order displacing the Congress firmly and has bolstered its position for a near sure victory in 2019 elections following the thumping victory in 4 of 5 State Assembly elections.

As the book prophesies, the current political order too is sure to corrupt as much as the previous UPA regime. This will happen probably in a decade or so of remaining the 'ruling class', tenably after Modi is replaced by another leader who forgets the days under the Congress misrule which they bitterly campaigned against in 2014 elections.

If one studies the pattern of 'Power Corrupts', and going by recent developments - such as the NDA's attempts to meddle with constitutional order (encroachment on powers of the judiciary, open disobedience to Judicial verdict in cases like Jallikattu & BCCI), always on attempts to eulogise right wing idols, and support to religious figureheads who propound religion or Vedas or other traditions as the source of Indianness instead of the Constitution, etc. - one perceives events similar to those described in the Book taking place in India (especially events after elevation of Napoleon as the dictator). The similarity in events or actual circumstances is of course a little far fetched, but the Animal Farm being fiction, one expects reality to be obviously milder and less pronounced.

To be sure, India has been through this pattern once, when Indira Gandhi imposed emergency after the 1971 military success emboldened her into thinking that she had absolute power. Democratic norms combined with strong opposition protests helped bring India back from the brink of dictatorial 'new master' eventuality.

Irrespective, reading the book set in motion questions of how we, as aware & awakened citizens, can make attempts to prevent India of today meeting a fate even remotely similar to fictional happenings depicted in the book. Another question which begs answers is how has USA which also rose from a revolution avoided the fate of USSR? Was it just because USA was based on capitalist ideals that its political class did not degenerate into becoming the 'new masters'?

In my view, there are two answers - both simultaneously being true. First, a just democratic order (unlike what is in place in present day Russia or Pakistan), clearly prevents a political class corrupted by power to stay in power - similar to how the Congress-led UPA was dethroned in 2014.

But second, and a precursor for the sustenance of a democratic order, is maintaining balance between judiciary & executive and independence of judicial & electoral institutions. For this to happen, all attempts to create any discord between the Judiciary & Executive must be thwarted, any attempt to weaken leadership or independence of Judicial & electoral bodies resisted, and foremost, attempts to undermine or alter the constitution need to be defeated.

One can see how the above 3 have been constantly practised in USA, and how all US citizens are always imbibed to consider the constitution as the greatest document ever and the Bill of Rights is reiterated at every political discourse. No religious text or tradition has ever been commanded to supersede the constitution or be the 'source' of Americanness.

This is one thing I see missing in India which I feel an urgency to start. A continued reiteration of faith and belief in the constitution as the supreme guiding force for all citizens, above any other ideology including religious texts and/or philosophical tenets like Communist or Nationalist ideologies.

The challenge for the next opposition (which I do hope will rise with the gradual decline of the Congress party) will be upholding the constitution, its ethos and citizens' belief in its ideals in face of neo-liberal, right wing capitalist order which currently has risen to power.

*Image Credit: http://www.wynghs.co.za/news/animal-farm-rehearsals-continue/

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