‘If we go in the same direction as them, we cannot expect a different result from them.’
‘Our fall is going to be very swift.’
‘Within a decade, we can expect the situation to change for the worse.’
IMAGE: Security personnel keep a watch following the communal violence that erupted in Jahangirpuri, New Delhi. Photograph: Rahul Singh/ANI Photo
“Even at the height of tension in Punjab, I did not feel this sense of despair because the essential values of our country remained intact. Today all our institutions are being destroyed.”
In a no holds barred interview with Rediff.com Senior Contributor Rashme Sehgal, Dr Ajai Sahni, who heads the Institute for Conflict Management which researches internal security issues in South Asia, predicts a grim future for India as it gets snared in increasing communal violence.
Part one of a two-part interview:
The communal anarchy sweeping the country paints a grim picture of India’s future.
Pakistan is a living example of what happens to a country where religion becomes centre stage.
Religious identity was used in Pakistan as it is in India as a political weapon in order to benefit right wing organisations.
The law will be applied on a community basis.
With this as our underlying principle, it will not take us long to become a failed State.
The modern world is transferring at a rapid pace. During the mid 1990s, India saw a high growth rate because the government then focused on the economy.
The focus has now changed away from public welfare. Between 2014 and 2022, India finds itself at the bottom of every developmental index including that of our growth rate.
GDP growth alone does not help consolidate State power.
Rather, it is the military industrial complex that reflects State power.
Sustained technological innovation adds to a nation’s industrial competitive strength.
Just parroting atmanirbhar is not enough.
Technology based on educational infrastructure is the need of the hour, but our industry spends less than 2% on research. The Modi government’s investment in R&D research is 0.6% of GDP.
China spends 23% of its GDP on R&D. How are we going to survive in this competitive environment?
Educational institutions in India are being destroyed with one controversy after the other — whether it be hijab or eating meat.
We are returning to a primitive, tribal, mindset beating our chests that Hindutva is best.
But this Hindutva ideology is not science. Science is a mindset where we accept the possibility of error.
There is a difference between civilisational history and a history based on faith.
I accept all the constant boasts about a great past, but these are not your achievements.
So why should you take credit for all these achievements? This is one more attempt to create a sense of false pride.
We are becoming a macro image of Pakistan with their constant tirade against non Muslims, how they will rape their women and force them to convert.
If we go in the same direction as them, we cannot expect a different result from them.
IMAGE: Women paramilitary personnel keep vigil after communal clashes were reported in Jahangirpuri, New Delhi. Photograph: Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo
Aren’t you sounding too cynical?
Ten years ago, India was regarded as an emerging great power. Today, we have to abandon this concept completely.
See our indices on press freedom, religious freedom, health, education…
What will be the consequences of this action?
Our fall is going to be very swift. Within a decade, we can expect the situation to change for the worse.
As our overall wealth declines, all our institutions will suffer.
This is a period of global transition. If we do not get on to the list of winners, we will not be capable of recovery.
IMAGE: Rapid Action Force and Delhi police personnel keep a vigil after the communal clashes in Jahangirpuri in the national capital. Photograph: ANI Photo
Who is going to be on this list of losers?
All the African nations and the countries of South Asia including us.
Even at the height of tension in Punjab, I did not feel this sense of despair because the essential values of our country remained intact.
Today all our institutions are being destroyed.
The institutionalised destruction has been so complete.
To give a parallel, when I was a student in the 1970s, the pro language movement in favour of Hindi started in Allahabad and Lucknow.
Within two to three years due to frequent class disruptions, our premier institutions of Allahabad and Lucknow Universities were destroyed.
The best students started moving away.
Exactly the same thing happened with the North East University.
Once the anti-outsider movement started there, they killed the vice chancellor and that was the end of the university. Faculty members and students just walked away.
The culture of violent religious faith and enquiry cannot live together.
Let me add that infrastructure development of which the government keeps boasting does not reflect State power.
IMAGE: Students of the Gurukul School in Mumbai create a painting with the message ‘Keep Peace in Our Nation’. Photograph: ANI Photo
India was being looked upon as an emerging Asian power to be compared with China.
China is ahead of us in every index. China has systematically planned out a road map based on scientific development and are working to implement it.
China is not saying they will not teach English as has been stated by our home minister recently.
Rather, English is a compulsory language in that country and the Chinese are being encouraged to learn this language.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com