The storm ahead

Justice Markandey Katju-



” Hai maujazan ek kulzum-e-khoon, kaash yahi ho

Aata hai abhi dekhiye, kya kya merey aage ”

( A turbulent sea of blood is before me

But see what is coming ahead )

Mirza Ghalib

I am in the evening of my life ( I just crossed 73 ), and my remaining years will be spent on educating the Indian people ( including the NRIs of America, where I am living presently, who though very good in their technical jobs, are simpletons and gullible fools in other respects ).

The crux of what I teach is this : in this world there are really two worlds (1) the world of the developed, highly industrialized countries, i.e. North America, Europe, Japan, Australia and China (2) the world of the underdeveloped countries, including India ( which is perhaps the most developed of the underdeveloped countries ).

Our national aim must be to transform India from the second world to the first. In other words, from being an underdeveloped country we must make it a developed, highly industrialized one. This is necessary if we wish to abolish poverty, unemployment, malnourishment, lack of healthcare and good education, etc., for only a high level and widespread industry can generate the wealth needed for providing for the welfare of our people, and generating millions of jobs to wipe out unemployment.

But how is this to be done? We no doubt had a limited degree of industrialization after 1947, but then the process stalled. And of late our economy has tanked, GDP has declined to 5%, there have been massive layoffs in the auto, IT, and other sectors, and the real estate and power sectors are in the dumps ( in fact it is to divert attention from this economic crisis that the Govt has resorted to gimmicks like cow protection, building Ram Temple, Yoga Day, Swatchata Abhiyan, abolition of Article 370, Howdy Modi in Houston, etc ). But economic issues cannot be wished away by such gimmicks and stunts.

One can win elections on the plank of Hindutva (as happened in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections), but one can’t eat Hindutva. One has to eat food, and to get food one must have a job. But jobs are getting less (as the National Sample Survey, a Govt of India organization, admitted recently). 12 million Indian youth are entering the job market every year, but jobs are getting less (due to manufacturing decline). Consequently, many Indian youth will end up as criminals, beggars, hawkers or suicides.

I submit that the Indian people must now make a choice : either (1) keep living in your miserable condition, with horrible poverty, record unemployment, appalling child nourishment ( the highest in the world, with every second Indian child malnourished, as stated by Global Hunger Index, UNICEF, etc. ), 50% of our women anemic, farmers distress ( over 300,000 farmers suicides already, and the trend continuing unabated ), almost total lack of proper healthcare and good education for the masses, discrimination against minorities, Dalits, etc. or (2) sacrifice about 10% of your 1350 million population in a gigantic, historical people’s revolution which alone can destroy the backwardness and feudal casteist and communal mindsets and practices among our people, which are obstructing any progress, and are keeping us enchained to poverty and other social evils.

The worst thing in life is poverty. So, the Indian people must now choose whether they wish to continue living in poverty, or sacrifice 135 million of their population.

Many would say I am presenting a horrible choice between the devil and the deep sea, and a cruel prognostication and augury. Do we really have to offer 135 million of our men, women and children to satisfy the appetite of the bloodthirsty God of Revolution?

I am not a bloodthirsty person, and I wish this great historical transformation could take place peacefully. But unfortunately, that is not how history operates. Consider the historical experience.

The transformation of feudal Europe of the 16th century to a modern Europe of the 19th century was not accomplished peacefully. It witnessed wars, revolutions, chaos, massacres, social churning, intellectual ferment etc ( as any student of European history would know ). It was only after going through that fire that modern society emerged in Europe.

Similarly, after the Chinese Revolution was completed in 1949, the Chinese authorities made an investigation about how many people were killed during the revolution ( which lasted for a quarter of a century, from 1924 to 1949 ). It was found that about 10% of the then 550 million Chinese people, i.e. about 50 million, were killed in this revolution.

Similarly, about 3-4 million of the then 40 million Vietnamese people were killed in the war of liberation in Vietnam which lasted from 1945 to 1975.

Thus, historical experience shows that about 10% of the people are killed in a revolution.

For, after all, what is a historical revolution? It is a period when the old society and its values are being uprooted and torn apart, but new values have not yet replaced them. Everything is in ferment, in chaos. Can this be a peaceful affair? Not at all. The reactionary elements in the old order will fiercely oppose any change, as happened in France in the period prior to the 1789 Revolution, and even during the Revolution, as in Vendee. And many of the ordinary people in society, being conservative by nature, will oppose any fundamental change. In India, most people are still with casteist and communal mindsets, and to replace that by modern minds is ten times more difficult than changing the physical environment.

In India all our state institutions have collapsed and become hollow and empty shells ( see my article ‘ Why celebrate Republic Day when our Constitution has become a scarecrow ? ‘ online ).

We adopted the parliamentary system of democracy, but this has degenerated into caste and communal vote banks, as everyone knows. Casteism and communalism are feudal forces, which must be destroyed if India is to progress, but parliamentary democracy further entrenches them. So, we have to replace parliamentary democracy by another system which enables us to rapidly progress.

Today, India has two of the three pre-requisites to becoming a modern industrial giant, like China viz (1) a huge pool of technical talent (our IT engineers are manning Silicon Valley, and many Indians are Professors in Science, Maths, and Engineering Departments in American Universities), and (2) immense natural resources. What it lacks is the third pre-requisite–a modern, patriotic political leadership. Without this, our transformation from the second to the first world is impossible.

Unfortunately, the political leaders in India today rely either on caste or religion for winning elections. Taking advantage of the fact that our society is still semi-feudal, with rampant casteism and communalism, they polarize society further and spread caste and religious hatred to get votes, and they are mostly corrupt. They have no idea of how to solve our massive economic problems but are experts in manipulating caste and communal vote banks. Obviously, such people are unfit to transform India into a modern, highly industrialized country.

It is only modern-minded, selfless and patriotic leaders who can solve India’s massive socio-economic problems. Who these modern-minded, patriotic leaders will be, when will the revolution which they will lead occur, what form will this revolution take? etc. is impossible to predict.

But about one thing there can be no doubt: the next two decades in our country will be very turbulent and bloody. As the great Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib said ” Aata hai abhi dekhiye kya kya merey aage “.


[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.]