My generation grew up to witness an India which was aspiring to reach the sky. The explosion of urbanization, digitalization and social media advanced these aspirations and made them seem rational. The idea of India was built brick by brick by those hardworking Indians who hoped for a more meaningful country compared to the one they had inherited.
Ambedkar spoke about Constitutional morality not as a natural sentiment, but as something that had to be cultivated. He went on to say that democracy is only a top dressing on Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic. Perhaps Ambedkar’s vision as Chairman of the drafting committee of the Indian constitution were guided by time and circumstance. But then years later, Nani Palkhivala echoed in a different tone similar thoughts when he said that we have given ourselves the Constitution but do not have the ability to keep it, inherited a resplendent heritage but do not have the wisdom to cherish it, suffered and endured patience without the perception of our potential.
Looking back through these decades gives rise to mixed sentiments. It is a clarion call for intellectuals to join politics, which has become noisy, messy and complicated over the years. Much of India’s problems today are the fruit of intellectual intolerance and unwillingness to join politics.
But it comes with baggage that is difficult to address. They neither have the time for activism nor the money to be voted to the hustings. Elsewhere in many parts of the world, it’s the educated intellectuals who bring value to the political and national atmosphere, who come up with policies that add positivity to people's lives. Well-meaning corporate bodies need to identify young leaders and groom them as political leaders. This is the way democracy can and will survive. It will push the nation forward in leaps and bounds.
As Indians we expect our politicians to be performers and to create world class solutions for us, but it is rare to have intellectuals to leave their creative confines and join the political order. The political parties have also grown cold, with limited reforms in their own systems. They have not been able to identify individuals who are committed to Indian nationalism. If as civilians and children of this dear motherland, we wish to live in a country where feelings of insecurity, division, inflation, poverty and unemployment are rare, if we want to live in a country where leaders symbolise class and the nation admires them for who they were, we will have to take the baton ourselves and enter the system.
A lot of times, I am confronted with the statement that you don’t need to enter politics to change the country. But I believe politics is the way we shape our own future. It defines our daily happenings, it influences our happiness and it guides our directions. For long we have allowed our politicians to lie, cheat and commit fraud of higher and higher magnitude.
At the national level, we do have few politicians who are well read, articulate well, have international experience and great solutions, but at state levels, there is a lack of intelligentsia. When India is faced with political and socio-economic challenges and threats that are directly dangerous to the secular credentials of the Indian Constitution, we need to return to the basics of Nehruvian values of welfare and pluralism. Proponents of other political ideas may claim that secularism is a word that needs to be debated and abolished, but it raises legitimate questions about their nationalism when they utter such statements.
India as a country has flourished only because it has remained a secular nation and not a nation ruled by any majority religious sect. The ordinary Hindus have deeply loved Christian and Muslim brethren and have co-existed in harmony. India has vested interests who time and again poison the national atmosphere, but history has recorded that anyone who has tried to attempt and polarize the country has perished. It is therefore imperative that intellectuals see politics as a calling to run the nation’s affairs rather than leave it to corrupt men who rob other's under the guide of democracy.
Indian democracy has been a cornerstone to transform the lives of billions who have lived on the promise of hope and the tenets of fraternity. The constitution has been the iron pillar through which people have viewed and interpreted our society. It has shaped our country from being an ancient civilization to a promised land, which has bridged social divides and alleviated poverty significantly. It is only the ethos of democracy that could have orchestrated such sweeping change without needing something like an Arab Spring.
With scholars returning their awards as a mark of protest and need of reformation, it is time that democracy should engage and undergo radical reforms. The kind of candidates that are being fielded into state and national level politics should change and this change should be led by people themselves. By doing this, India will win, the children of this great nation will live, and not only live, but will be proud of the fact that people who went before them, left something for them, something we so lovingly call ‘Democracy’.