Justice Markandey Katju-
Partho Chatterjee’s lament for ‘normal politics’ in India reveals the fatuity and intellectual vacuity of most so called ‘intellectuals’ in India.
In his article ‘More than anything else, Modi knows how to seize the moment’ published in the wire.in Chatterjee decries the suspension of ‘normal politics‘ under Modi’s rule, and writes “ It is politics that ensures a degree of decency and compassion in the public life of the country “
But it was this ‘normal politics’ which was being practiced in India after the Constitution was promulgated in 1950 which ensured massive poverty, record unemployment, appalling level of child malnourishment, over 3 lac farmers suicides, almost total lack of healthcare and good education for the Indian massive and widespread corruption etc. Does Chatterjee believe that this amounts to decency and compassion?
The test of every political system is one and only one: does it raise the standard of living of the masses, does it give them better lives? So, the question to be asked (which Chatterjee slurs over) is whether the ‘normal politics’ which was being practiced before Modi came to power in 2014 did that?
It is obvious that Chatterjee and other so called ‘intellectuals’ in India (academics, media persons, writers etc) regard normal politics to mean the politics within the framework of the Indian Constitution, i.e. parliamentary democracy. But everyone knows that in India parliamentary democracy is largely based on caste and communal vote banks, and our politicians, who have no genuine love for the people, but only an insatiable lust for power and pelf, are experts in manipulating these and polarizing society on the basis of caste and religion and spreading hatred. Casteism and communalism are feudal forces, which have to be destroyed if India is to progress, but parliamentary democracy further entrenches them. So it is obvious that an alternative system to parliamentary democracy has to be created which helps India progress.
But this alternative does not lie within the framework of the Constitution ( see my article ‘Why celebrate Republic Day when our Constitution has become a scarecrow’ published in theweek.in ). In other words, it can only be created by a Revolution led by genuinely patriotic and modern minded leaders determined to rapidly industrialize the country, like Kemal Mustafa in Turkey, and the Japanese leaders after the Meiji Restoration of 1868 ( see my articles ‘India’s moment of turbulent revolution is here’ published in firstpost.com, ‘India edges closer to its own French Revolution’ published in theweek.in, ‘Eight steps to a revolution which can clean up the mess’ published in daily.in, ‘A French Revolution is coming in India’ published in indicanews.com, and ‘Reforms will not do India any good—only a Revolution will’ published in huffingtonpost.in ).
But the very word ‘Revolution’ sends shivers down the spine of our so called ‘intellectuals’, and they run from it like the plague. They want a great historical transformation of India to take place peacefully, without their comfortable lives being disturbed in any manner. The word revolution evokes the image of the guillotine, and they shudder from this prospect. They do not deny things in India are in a bad shape, but they want changes legally and smoothly.
When the great French leader during the French Revolution of 1789 Maximilien Robespierre was asked why he justified illegal acts of the people he said “ But citoyens ( citizens ) the Revolution is illegal, the storming of the Bastille was illegal, the beheading of the King was illegal. Voulez vous une revolucion sans revolucion ( Do you want a revolution without a revolution ) ? “
Our Indian ‘intellectuals’ want a revolution without a revolution.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are their own].