This was the start of freedom, but laying the foundation of the politics was one man, Jawaharlal Nehru. The man credited with creating the modern, liberal India. And it all started with that speech, popular as the “tryst of destiny” speech.
That speech is supposed to be a declaration by a proud and robust India, ready to take on the world. It’s a fizzle. To sum it up, it says that with great power comes great responsibility, that’s it. The language seems overwrought, repetition is pervasive and ideas so stale they’re rotten.
Or maybe the ideas seem stale in retrospect. Because we know what happened. India didn’t grow while Nehru ruled. It didn’t become a world power. Instead of being a beacon of democracy, Nehru colluded with dictators and oppressors. His close friends were Marshal Tito, the communist dictator of Yugoslavia, and Nasser, the Pro USSR dictator of Egypt. Instead of a galloping dynamism, Indian economy was straddled with the slander of “Hindu Rate of growth”, meaning growing at a pace of 2-4% when we should have grown at 7-8% at least.
Nehru tried to copy USSR as much as possible. A journalist attacked his economic policies, so he got that guy arrested. The supreme court upheld the right of the journalist. Nehru promptly brought the first amendment and placed restrictions on speech. Yup, the tradition of reacting badly to adverse court decisions didn’t start with Indira Gandhi.
The first amendment also restricted the right to trade. The right to do a work of your choice, the way you want was abrogated. And we are not talking about selling drugs/guns here, just simple business/occupation. In “greater interests of the nation”, any business could be controlled by the state to any extent. Again, the wording was deliberately vague. This was the basis of the dreaded license-quota-permit system where government decided how much you are allowed to produce and what goods you can produce. The state inspectors would fine you if you were more productive than the state wanted you to be. This was the noose that suffocated Indian capitalism. And allowed only those to succeed that were close to power. That was the intent anyway.
The next thing Nehru attacked was property rights. The state has the right to pass a law taking your assets and give them to someone else, and they can do it legally. It has not been practiced as much as you’d fear, but the intent is right there.
Lastly, the constitution guaranteed equity before law, irrespective of caste and creed. But Nehru introduced an amendment to take that away too. After this amendment, the state can make any laws to favour any community it deems backward, and no court can overturn that.
This is the basis for caste politics of today, the seeds sown by Nehru.
From top down control to curtailing individual freedom to shackling the economy to vote bank politics, and even politics of vendetta. Nehru sowed the seeds of all the ills of post-independence India. This is the reality behind the benign face of a supposed liberal who gave that speech about destiny.
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