Sunday, October 7, 2007

IT'S YESTERDAY ONCE MORE

The Congress party was formed in 1885 by A.O. Hume, a Scotsman, primarily to perpetuate the Empire and prevent another native uprising by permitting westernized and educated Indians to enjoy limited power and have some say in the running of the administration. Subsequently, but for the faction under Bal Gangadhar Tilak, which demanded self-rule, Congressmen were content to seek a dominion status for India under the British.

Enter the most remarkable, westernized, global Indian that India has ever produced, Mahatma Gandhi. With Gandhi’s entry the whole paradigm of struggle against the British changed. Reason: Gandhi not only got to the pulse of the nation quickly, he used his profound understanding of the British to beat them by adopting an innovative, indigenous method to which the masses resonated but which the British never fully understood till they were made to depart.

This was lateral thinking at its best. Lesson? To beat a much stronger opponent, you have to develop a tool which he has not thought of and which he cannot copy or develop a response to till your objective is achieved.

Cut to the India of 2007. The Indian National Congress is poised once again to go into the hands of an exciting (or is it excited?) bunch of westernized Indians with a global exposure to education and work. To cap it, most of those who matter are sons and daughters of senior Congress leaders of the previous generation. Rahul Gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Milind Deora, Jitendra Prasad, Sachin Pilot, Priya Dutt; all are pedigreed inheritors, raring to go on well oiled vehicles.

With such impressive credentials, why is there no excitement, hope or expectation among the masses? Why is there such cynicism about what this generation next of the Congress can achieve? Why did Rahul Gandhi’s high volt involvement in the UP elections lead to a decline in the vote share of the Congress?

The answer seems to partly lie in the two Indias that have been created after Independence. The young Congressmen of today belong to the first India, westernized, English speaking, affluent, and almost completely disconnected with the other original India of the masses; just like the Nehrus of yesteryears were, almost completely mentally enslaved by British superiority, till Gandhi appeared on the scene. Such leaders simply cannot fire the imagination and the civilizational and cultural pride of the real Indians of original India.

That is what the original Global Indian, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi did. He made simple villagers realize that they were powerful enough to overthrow the mightiest empire of all time; that they were in fact culturally and morally superior to the white man despite all his swagger, sophistication and proclaimed racial superiority. How did he do it? By understanding and getting into the very soul of this ancient land and into the hearts and homes of ordinary Indians by living and talking like one of them. Not like most Congressmen before him who lived, dressed, spoke and thought like their English masters.

In the tumultuous process of driving the British out of India, a now forgotten but a critical and timeless management lesson that Gandhi taught was: You can’t beat them if you ape them. This is a pre-requisite even for any independent nation which aspires to move up the global hierarchy and sit as an equal on the table of the great nations of the world. It is equally applicable to any company which wants to be a global leader in its business.

Today’s global Indians of the Congress and the First India are doing exactly the opposite. They are subconsciously, if not blatantly, making it a point to prove to the other Indians that they are an inferior lot because they do not know English and have not seen the superior West, now epitomized by the US. Therefore, these Indians are not fit to enjoy the ‘Good Times’ which separate them from the First Indians who are enjoying being the new ‘colonial rulers’ of their own country. Once again, there is the same mental enslavement to the superiority of the West, which can only enfeeble those who pretend to be leaders of the land of Gandhi the Mahatma.

‘It’s yesterday once more’ sang The Carpenters not so long ago in celebration of the back again happy times. Like all Indians, I too want to sing a similar song for this country. History seems to be repeating itself. Only the Mahatma has yet to reappear, to enable Nehru’s great grandson and others like him to once again shed the hypocritical and superficial trapping of Khadi for something which cleanses and frees their souls of the intoxicating yoke which has them entrapped.

In the 21st century, nobody cares about what they wear on the body; what matters to this great country is what their heart, soul and mind are clad in.