Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Muddling Indian Liberalism

Thanks to Dr Parth J Shah for informing the Forth Vithal Mahadeo Tarkunde Memorial Lecture. The lecture was delivered by Dr.Ramachandra Guha on 3rd September, 2010 at Indian International Centre (IIC). I have attended the Lecture. It was on "The Current Crisis of Indian Liberalism".

The person, who introduced about Mr.Tarkunde, and the Memorial Lecture said Mr Tarkunde stood for “socialism” and “democracy”!

Then, veteran journalist Mr. Kuldip Nayyar introduced Dr. Guha and said “why only write about India after Gandhi?” The modern India rose may be shaped by “Nehru”. His two other comment is important. First, Indian politics after independent have lost those values which was practiced before”, and secondly, “today’s liberals have lost the sensitivity equally. He concluded by saying that “without sensitivity we cannot see the purpose”.

The following are noted from Dr. Guha’s Lecture on "The Current Crisis of Indian Liberalism": Justice Tarkunde was “solid liberal” than me and he stood for the “wisdom of the ordinary Indian”. The term liberalism only excludes the “extremism”.

Dr.Guha gave the Oxford Dictionary Definition of Liberalism:

Liberalisms stand for:

  1. open to new ideas
  2. respectful of individual rights and freedoms
  3. individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform
  4. traditional beliefs as dispensable, invalidated by modern thought, or liable to change

According to him the free trade was not practiced in India during the period 1920-1980! Even Dr Guha went on to say that “Indian liberalism is an important rule bound institution”.

In fact Dr.Guha said the first Indian liberal was Raja Ram Mohan Roy because Mr.Roy was the person who raised the issue of Freedom of Press, Public Funded Schools/Colleges etc. He even discarded the voice of people who say’s Asoka (and others) was one of the earliest liberal of India. Indian liberals have always struggled in middle of many things to raise a voice against illiberal.

According to Dr.Guha, Mr.M K Gandhi admitted the “Himalayan Blunders” which he had done! Moreover, Dr.Guha identifies “three kinds of crisis” in Indian Liberalism:

  • Crisis at Birth (he perhaps refers the period between 1950-1969): This was the satiation soon after the India become “Republic” in 1950.

  • Second crisis was in 1970 when the than Prime Minister of India become a Authoritarian Ruler by destroying established institutions including the democracy etc In fact he broadly refers this period as “Family Firm” (The Congress Party)

  • Thirdly, more important crisis in Indian Liberalism is the crisis in today which simultaneous from left, right and centre. Beside, there is competitive fundamentalism!

Who has set the present trend in this tragic crisis in Indian liberalism is The Congress Party and others have followed or slightly different.

Therefore, the raise of il-liberalism is due to things like political party become family firm, by caste, etc. This is what happing in DMK in Tamil Nadu.

According to Dr.Guha, the DMK was progressive party earlier but it now become wholly and sourly “Family Firm”. In the third crisis of Indian Liberalism “the impatient” become more induced than ever. In other words, the Left become Authoritarian, the Right become fear and impatient, and the Centrist become hugely corrupt.

Finally he gave four broad issues which need to be revived so as to see the vision of Mr.Tarkunde’s idea of India and Indian Liberalism. I only noted the forth one which is “a liberal should be independent from political parties”.

It is important to note that Dr. Guha talked about Naxlites movement in Central India. The way in which he described about Naxlites during the lecture was just opposite of what he wrote some months ago in the Hindustan Times!!

My only conviction is that unlike our previous generations we have now a great opportunity to communicate with each other in easy manner through so many ways to revive the “crisis” stricken “Indian Liberalism”. The present day aged Indian Liberals are more conservative in their attitude towards younger generation. Particularly, I am referring to Shri.S.V Raju of Indian Liberal Group!. Of curse there are many and my list is very long.

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