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The episode of agricultural laws exposed the internal disunity of India. It’s time to fix it



Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation by videoconference on November 19, 2021 |  ANI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation by videoconference on November 19, 2021 | ANI

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TFor some Indians, Prime Minister Narendra Modis’ surprise announcement to repeal the three farm laws can be seen as a victory for democracy. The forces at play in political economy may have demonstrated their democratic strength. But India may have lost. For, there is no doubt that India’s agricultural sector, which is economically and strategically important, is in urgent need of reform. exploited by enemies.

For several decades, farmers were unwittingly imprisoned by the government, supposedly to protect them. The argument for protection was based on the need to move forward. However, Indian farmers should be free to decide what to grow and who to sell to. The lack of reform has resulted in the deplorable state of farmers overall. This is a long overdue public policy reform that is essential among many for the agricultural sector. With the exception of some large farmers, the perpetual hardship and negative plight of the majority of Indian farmers should be of concern to the country’s political class.

Disgruntled farmers, their dependents and others who are part of the agricultural industry support systems across the country can become a flame that fuels disunity in India. In particular, any path giving a religious flavor to the protests of the farmers should be avoided. Without a doubt, this is easier said than done.

Read also : Modi government’s agricultural laws mishap will hurt urbanization

The external threat is real

There should be no doubt among Indian planners that China and Pakistan are seeking to keep India weak. China’s intention stems from the broader global competition with the United States. Pakistans is derived from his belief that a strong India can pose an existential threat. The two countries expect to check on India’s development progress. Thus, creating territorial and terrorist insecurity is only one means of achieving these objectives. But in view of the various decisions of governments and political parties, it seems that in general, the Indian political class is insufficiently sensitive to the growing challenges which animate its external security landscape.

It is high time for Prime Minister Modi to hold a closed-door session with parliamentarians from all parties with a briefing on India’s strategic landscape. India’s perception of internal and external threats needs to be explained. It will establish the urgency of promoting internal unity. The Indian political class must seek to iron out their differences in order to unite against growing external threats. They will have to agree to disagree and keep their differences aside until the national interest warrants it. Even the ideological differences linked to Hindu majoritarianism and other divisive elements that animate the current political landscape must take a back seat through mutual understanding within the political class.

The disunity will have the effect of slowing down the development of the tools of political art which are urgently needed to strengthen India’s capacity to defend its territorial integrity, sovereignty, value systems, culture and developmental growth. . There is no doubt that the decision to withdraw the three farm laws is a step that will weaken the forces of disunity in frontline state like Punjab.

In general, the unity of India is threatened by vectors born out of the diversity of the country. Religion remains the force that divides India the most and it is evident that religious polarization is gaining strength. It has unfortunately become the currency of electoral power and is in the throes of a population explosion and soaring unemployment. A significant portion of the unemployed Indian population may be drawn to extremist views who are now frontline soldiers who defend religion, besiege and attack other religions.

Read also : What Farm Laws Roll Back by Modi Government Tells Us About Governing India Like a CM with a Raw Majority

An unrecognized failure

Prime Minister Modi attributed the failure of the agricultural reform measure to the inability of a small section of farmers to see the benefits that would accrue to them from free trade and contract farming. What has not been said is the government’s failure in the area of ​​communications. This failure is evident on three levels and breeds disunity.

The first level is the bad interaction between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition. Rolling major and important decisions through Parliament without detailed discussions has become the norm. The two parties seem to be talking to each other rather than to each other. It lacks mature dialogues across the table. The result is felt in the loss of dissenting opinions which can serve to enrich the debate and improve the results.

The second level is located at the central-state level of the federal system. The lack of consultation with states has become evident in the Centre’s governance style. This caused considerable heartburn and some states have adopted a defiant stance. Such a situation is dangerous and risks aggravating the disunity.

The third level is between the government and the general population. Surprising people with little or no consultation with stakeholders has become a fairly common style of governance. This is accompanied by media pressure that tries to control the narrative and especially to disseminate opinions that support the government. Statistical juggling to project an image of well-being to the population is another common technique adopted to keep the masses uninformed, hopeful and distracted.

Both internally and externally, India’s political power is hampered by its inability to harness information as a tool of the art of governing in the pursuit of national interests. This despite the global recognition of its importance in the information age.

It is indeed ironic that political parties, through their respective IT cells, were able to quickly become effective tools for strengthening partisan interests. On the other hand, the public information mechanisms of the central government and the states can still be improved. Political parties have succeeded in attracting more talent than the government to manage and operate in the information field.

India absolutely cannot meet the challenges that lie ahead for its growth and national security without first making maximum efforts to strengthen internal unity. The political class must wake up and act. Prime Minister Modi, who loves hugging foreign leaders so much, must take the lead and, to change, start hugging some opposition leaders. It can help and for the cause it can be a tiny price to pay.

Lieutenant-General (Dr) Prakash Menon (retired) is Director of the Strategic Studies Program at Takshashila Institution; former military adviser, Secretariat of the National Security Council; He tweets @ prakashmenon51. Opinions are personal.

(Edited by Prashant)

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