Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Social activism and not politics need of the hour: Govindacharya

Former general secretary of the BJP, K N Govindacharya, once a well known face in party circles has been quite a recluse for some time now. However, he continues to keenly observe political developments in the country and the world. Proud of his long association with the RSS, the soft-spoken ideologue considers the Pokhran explosion as the greatest achievement of NDA regime, and feels the Indo-US nuke deal is irrelevant. In a free-wheeling interview to Arun Chaubey, he calls Nandigram a natural reaction to the forces of marketism and touches upon topics like terrorism and impact of liberalisation on the Indian society.
What is your opinion on the Indo-US civil nuke deal?
Neither is the deal required nor would it be helpful in its objective. The deal has very little to offer. It is only for power generation, and in terms of power also it would fulfill merely 10% of energy demand. As far as technology is concerned, India has evolved on its own and not at the mercy of US. In fact in the present situation, US needs India more. Therefore India should begin negotiation from a higher pedestal, as this treaty in an indirect way of forcing India towards NPT. India should have made it clear to the US that the Hyde Act cannot be a feature of the deal.
Is the US failure responsible for Islamic terrorism in India as well as other parts of the world?
The US has tackled the international situation in a wrong way. It has become isolated and got the image of ‘Dadagiri’. And this wrong approach is responsible in promoting jehadi terrorism across the world. In the post-Cold War era and with the disintegration of USSR, the US lust for attaining the sole leadership position was even further whetted. But it in return got the sting of 9/11. Since then, the foundation of international relationships has changed radically and the US has not been able to cope with the change. At this juncture, India has to play an active role instead of adopting a defensive stance. In that way, US can be a useful assistant to India. We need to shed the hangover of inferiority and assume a leadership role through aggresive political diplomacy.
On the home front, how do you view developments in Nandigram?
Nandigram is a natural reaction to forces of marketism. Singur and Nandigram are specimen events on the process of struggle but their context has not been taken cognisance of. In Singur, Mamata Banerjee despite her 45 days’ epic fast could not attain the needed result. While the role of violence in Nandigram has undervalued the limitations of peaceful methods of protest in the public discourse, which is tragic and unhealthy for democracy as well as the nation.
How would you describe your long association with the BJP?
As far as my association with BJP is concerned, I contributed my bit on an ideological level. On electoral plank, I was a witness at close quarters of power circles. I could observe that coming to power is easy, but status quoists and insensitive operatus in the party create hurdles.
Please explain the status quoists and their role in politics?
The tool of implementation for the party was state machinery, which was not tuned for the purpose of change, therefore the status quoists created hurdles. The political leadership, which was also deficient in terms of motivational and competence, failed to act against it.
But this status quoism lead to disillusionment especially among youth?
Since the political leadeship was not trained, they were satisfied with their mediocrity of performance and failed to notice that expectations were high from them. The gap between expectation and performance led to disillusionment.
Is there any hope for alternative leadership?
Indian youth is capable of going ahead on its own. Only thing it has to have is the robustness of Indian civilisation. It has to have the capacity to limit and rule the state power. Only then the establishment and the state will be able to understand India in its own way and not in the European context, and India will be able to contribute its worth globally.
You see hope for India in second generation of leadership, but youth movements have been a failure in India?
People’s movement including JP movement, anti-Boffors or Ram Janmabhoomi movements and also pre-independence movement were mainly fought against the onslaught, menace and distortion of the state. Therefore, all these movements ended up changing the state, as they neither had the stamina for systemic change nor had the ability to make the government conducive to Indian ethos. Indian society and youth are now ranged against forces of marketism, indiscriminate globalisation and degeneration of democracy into a sort of ‘corporatocracy’. The need of the hour is to galvanise a parallel political movement like the pre-1934 freedom movement. The structure needed, methodology adopted and traning needed for the leaders of the movement has to be original.
How do you see the role of so called nationalist parties?
Are they losing their edge? The political space for vibrant nationalism coupled with pro-poor is vacant in the public sphere of India. As far as nationalist parties- who offer verbal support to the nationalist issues- are concerned, they have lost their credibility because of the disjoint between their promises and their deeds. And those who have pro-poor approach are deficient if not ignorant about the traditions and moorings of the nation. You have spared a lot of time in studying the impact of liberalisation on Indian society.
What is your observation?
My study on the impact of liberalisation on Indian society has come to the conclusion that:
Rural poverty has not decreased; instead despair and anarchy are looming large in the countryside.
Urban poverty decreased a bit in terms of heavy cost of unemployment, but pollution, crime and atrocities on weaker sections have increased.
Inequalities have increased manifold and the system is attending to only 30 per cent of the society, leaving 70 per cent to their own fate.
Attitude towards women has degenerated to mere consumerism.
Consumerism and permissiveness have pervaded the social fabric resulting in erosion of Indian values and functioning levers of the society.
It has eroded the confidence of India in contributing its might globally, thererby affecting self-pride and self-confidence of Indian society.
It has created acute tension in the socio-political fabric of the nation. New structures, new tools of change will have to be identified, harnessed and integrated as a fighting unit in its own way.
Besides, globalisation has directed towards further centralisation, homogenisation and monopolisation in which democracy is captured and controlled by money bags. The organs of the state including media and channels of information are used to condition the minds of society for creating false demands to manipulate the system for immoral profits alone. This process in turn creates disconnect between state and markets and society and state, while markets collude together to deprive the society from fulfilling its aspirations.
Therefore, I feel that the battle has to be fought on multiple planks. It has to be decentralised, diversified and localised so that localised communities which defy the dominance of the state as well as market and yet are able to lead a prosperous life based on inter-dependence and cultural advancement.
Besides, it requires a three-pronged robust effort in the direction of intellectual, constructive and educational activities in a decentralised, localised mode.
For all this, an understanding has to be evolved about the concept of development- ways of development based on family being the unit- which has to be nature-friendly in the context of investment, technology, management and participation of people.
Will you return to active politics? If not, why?
I do not agree to this proposition. The role of the party and power politics in India is mostly alien and unmindful of Indian tradition as well as needs. And the whole idea has been borrowed from a society carved out by the formulae of Social Contract theory and the individualism evolved through Protestantism as an ideology. So unprotected individual participation in politics leads to dominance of politics by local and foreign money bags that disconnect the state from the understanding and organisation of the society itself.
The basic dictum about the state’s existence is supposed to protect the interest of those who cannot protect themselves. But the state has played the role of obstructor, disruptor and speed governor upon the society. Therefore, understanding the limitation and role of party and power politics, my plan is to carve out a social dynamo to speed up the progress and create social deterrant to bring back party and power politics to the rails of values and issues to salvage the society from self-destructive marshy land of crass power game.
Since there is not much difference in politics with regard to sense of purpose, discreet world view, national vision of their own manifestos, the political parties have degenerated into gangs vying for power with no-hold barred methods, visualising power as a tool of social progress. They have turned into groups competing for power, which has become an end in itself and not the means.
Internal participation merely will not suffice as the external pressure of societal level is the need of the hour. So I decided to contribute in the unity of nation and the society in constructive and educational mode, desisting from being a part of the partisan and power politics.

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