Image courtesy of Al Jazeera
In times when a counterculture not just thrives but appears to be on the ascendant that blames all that ails the country on nefarious influence of the left, it is perhaps pertinent to reflect as to what exactly is the contribution of the left in shaping the policies of our country and also our opinion.
Rani of Jhansi, Tantya Tope, Vir Kunwar Singh, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak ,Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Batukeshwar Dutt, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Vir Savarkar, Badshah Khan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Dr Zakir Hussain etc are all names we have grown up with. Was there ever any red book akin to that of Chairman Mao that we were made to recite glossing eloquent about Motilal or Jawaharlal Nehru?
Were the three books authored by Nehru compulsory reading in our curricula ?
The epithets of 'the great' stand bestowed on King Ashoka and emperor Akbar by world historians and Indologists not any left leaning historians
From the French Revolution spawned ideals of equality, fraternity and liberty. The revolution also gave birth to nomenclatures of the left and right which gradually gained currency. The left was generally those that opposed monarchy, were republicans while the rightists were the landed gentry and the monarchists. It is also believed today that the French revolution sounded the death knell or the beginning of the end of Christianity and the hold of organized religion on the continent.
Paradoxically today the Republicans in the US constitute the right wing while the Democrats the left ! Increasingly the line demarcating the two, though appears to be rather vocal, has in fact blurred
It is pertinent to be mindful that ideals of nationalism, socialism and democracy have evolved from the left. It was also in republics like Genoa and Venice where Renaissance first blossomed. In its extreme form left eventually degenerated into Communism while the right into Fascism and Nazism
India as a civilizational nation state has evolved through a multitude of empires and kingships. In the pre-Buddhist era of sixteen Mahajanapadas (oligarchies) only two were really Ganatantras (or republics).
Even at the height of Brit imperialism the paramount power directly ruled just 3/5th of the subcontinent while the rest or 'Princely India' was administered by about 565 potentates who exercised varying degrees of civil and military authority. Even in 'British India' not just in matters of revenue collection but in maintenance of law and order the assistance of the landlords or zamindars was sought prolifically.
It is generally believed that a major determinant of welfare state is where the monarchies with familial foundations (or patrimonialism) have traditionally been viewed as a parent of the populace and hence upon the rise of the industrial state can today be perceived as a steward of the populace
Our founding fathers envisaged us to be a welfare state drawing heavily from king Ashoka the great who believed his dharma as a matter of state policy. He declared that through all his exertions he strove only to discharge the debt that he owed to all living creatures, which back then was a revolutionary new ideal of kingship.
From King Ashoka's ideals of conquering the world through love and peace flows our doctrine of Vasudev Kutumbakam (universal brotherhood). Independent India has been steadfastly against neo-imperialism in the middle east and never been an expansionist regime. Since 1971 the country does not recognize any honor bestowed on her citizens by a hereditary head of state and has been vociferously against apartheid too.
From Ashokan steps of establishment of centers for the treatment of sick humans and beasts, laying shady groves, orchards , wells and rest -houses flow our concepts of socialism, nationalization, free market economy, central planning, expenditure on education, infrastructure, healthcare, child care and schemes like old age pensions and MNREGA. Our ideals are not for rabid capitalism but are for more equitable distribution of resources. While both Chairman Mao and the global right rejected environmentalism India's successive left of center regimes accept global warming and is all for effective reduction of carbon emissions. We exist in the post third wave of global feminism which has shaped our law to such a degree that it stands heavily tilted against men .State recognition of LGBTQ movement means we have just passed the second anniversary of decriminalization of homosexuality
It obtains that in matters fiscal, free market economy, environmental issues, religion (separation of the religion and state) and in support to countercultures our state policy strives for a balance between recognition that there shall always exist a degree of 'social hierarchy' and 'social inequality' and stands against political changes that will shift the society into either of the two political extremes.
Tectonic shift or death of the left in India You decide