If I were to make a wild prediction that has a high probability of coming good, it is going to be that India will start focusing more on August 5th as a newer independence day (we will call it ‘Bharat Diwas’ for good measure) of sorts and switch to toning down August 15th as the legacy one that is given a nod every year.
With the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 and the Ram mandir bhumi pujan in 2020, a precedent has been set and it is just a matter of time before someone wakes up to the potential in the date. I would be very surprised if this does not happen.
The past couple of days have seen so much euphoria about the bhumi pujan and also so much anguish at the same time. Both are surprising if you consider the fact that this has been a certainty for a while now.
Particularly, with developments in the Kashmir valley not being exactly what had expected and the trouble with China on the Ladakh front, the dispensation needed a win. There was no way on earth that this was going to be anything but a show of triumph.
On the other hand, I guess it the reactions are not as much a matter of surprise, but a matter of symbolism. It is a very visible mile marker on the road that India turned to a while ago and this is kind of the point of no return, no matter what happens from here on.
Whether you like the way things are playing out or not, what is abundantly clear is that the India of the first 65-odd years of it is existence is now a thing of the past. The anguish you hear is the mourning of that. It was something quite unique and a miracle of sorts. The triumph is the joy of the section of the population who have always considered the values of that time to be a grotesque thing.
The T.L.D.R version is that we are not going back there.
That leaves us with the question of where do we go from here? Quo vadis, India? We are well into the second term of this dispensation that has been at the helm of these changes. Most of the big hits from the manifesto have been covered. Once the Uniform Civil Code is done (August 5, 2021?), there is nothing much left. Which will bring the focus to what exactly is going on the development front.
And the news has been quite bad for a while there. But, if there is one thing that you can be sure about this dispensation, it is that they are experts at turning a problem into an opportunity. We are very likely to attempt a Chinese model of a far larger role of actions of the state to push development, the lack of which is going to be blamed on being too democratic a country.
We are already kind of there as a new oligopoly is being formed willy-nilly and the only way to be able to thrive is to participate and know-tow. And, in a country the scale of India, it is easy to show scale as effectiveness. If everyone buys something worth Rs. 1 every day, the country will buy Rs. 1.3 billion worth of things of daily. And you can easily pass that off as growing/thriving economic activity.
What this means, effectively, is that the India story will continue to be a thing as the 1.3 billion opportunity is still a market that is really untapped. The oligarchs will be called on to do that and the activity will be there to show for it. There is going to be at least enough to call it a success and, when it is done well it may even hit the China trajectory.
It will create a system that will be hard on those who don’t play along. In fact, it will be a system that will have no space for people on the margins or people who don’t sing the same tune. Given a window of time of 15-years, we will get there; perhaps, even sooner than that.