Let’s start with a straight stitch. It is not very easy for an ordinary citizen to become Prime Minister, President or Chancellor of democratic nations, even modern ones. In these countries around the world, including Western democracies, there are racial, linguistic, gender and religious considerations behind the choice of a political leader. These considerations function as unwritten codes of political conduct and eliminate the very basic democratic conjecture of equality before the law, as a leader must, by definition, aspire to be (come) more than just a citizen. The influence of these considerations is also based on the act of image building or worship, in which individual identity is negated for community / majority identity. For example, it should be noted that the United States has not had a woman president so far and that no democracy in Western Europe has a black president or prime minister, except for the Ireland, where Leo Varadkar, an Irish-Indian gay doctor, was Prime Minister. in 2017-2020 and is now the Leader of the Opposition. This reality shows the negation of individual identity over preference of community / majority identity and is part of the practical side of global realpolitik.
Likewise, Indian politics is no exception to this unwritten code of political conduct. Provided that the stratified social structure, language policy, and religious caste sensitivities in Indian society are taken into account, the choice of Prime Minister of India was decided by various factors, primarily caste status and legacy of the Nehru / Gandhi clan. Although any Indian citizen without a criminal background can be considered to hold higher positions in Indian democracy, this is not always the case in practice. As in Western democracies, a multiplicity of questions can problematize the eligibility criteria of an individual to be considered for the post of Indian Prime Minister. Although modern India is characterized and seen as the direct progeny of an anti-colonial and secular freedom struggle that lasted nearly two hundred years, the troubled socio-political history of the Indian subcontinent still invites considerations of capital. such as religion, caste, gender and financial status in democratic practices. Moreover, although the nation has evolved into a democratic republic with Indians as the leaders of the various political parties and the nation, it also shows that various forms of social hegemonies continue to exert a serious influence on Indian politics. As Dr Ambedkar rightly pointed out, India’s political leaders used to signal the message that political freedom without social freedom is impossible. This is evident as the majority of Indian prime ministers are from the upper middle class and the upper class elite.
Hero worship is typical of Bollywood, the Indian Hindi film industry and its various regional manifestations. There are a number of stereotypical qualities for a hero: a hero should be tall and fair-skinned, a maestro of musical talent and able to beat up to 50 men at one time. This hero cult is also very influential in Indian politics. From 1930 until his death in 1964, Jawaharlal Nehru, head of the Indian National Congress and then Prime Minister of India for nearly seventeen long years, was the most powerful figure in Indian politics. The Indian National Congress could not think of replacing Nehru. Moreover, Nehru has been hailed as both the architect of modern India and the champion of South Asian authority. So-called Nehruvian politics exerted a powerful influence on Indian politics until the 1990s. At the height of Nehrus’ power, blind followers of Nehru, like the UN Dhebar, went so far as praise the fact that India cannot move forward without the presence of Nehrus in Indian politics, reflected in the term Nehruvian, which denotes something heroic, a political hegemony of one wields undisputed authority over the most great democracy of the world. The term Nehruvian literally means the period of Nehru or related to Nehru, but in reality it shows the politics of power associated with the cult of an individual. This cult of personality means that there is a whole plethora of blind followers who not only praise the leader, but intimidate his opponents. Nehru’s influence in Indian politics is further indicated by Indian expressions such as Nehruvian secularism, Nehruvian socialism, Nehruvian diplomacy, Nehruvian planning, which are widely used in regular political debates and in official policies. While the term Nehruvian has been and still is hailed as a progressive indicator of Indian politics, the disastrous impact of Nehruvian cult is that it forgets the basic idea that postcolonial India is a democracy in which Nehru ruled. government, while the term Nehruvian generates the feeling that Nehru was a king who ruled his Indian empire.
Not only that, the socio-cultural factors that established such a cult have also been largely thoughtless. National Congress and later Prime Minister, it comes as no surprise that Nehrus’ family background, caste position, and Western upbringing were milestones in creating a prime minister from a boy Brahmin of Kashmir. Diving into the biographical side of the Nehrus family, we see that born into the upper caste and elite Brahmin family, as the son of a wealthy lawyer, Nehru had always had the privilege of tasting the best possible things in the world. world. He never knew poverty, but leisure and sumptuousness. Nehru never faced slavery, although he was imprisoned for long periods of time, but mastery and authority were his companions. Motilal Nehru, the powerful father figure, was always there to buy into Jawaharlal Nehrus’ achievements, including the rise to prominence in the Indian National Congress.
Realities after Nehru
Nehru was no exception in Indian politics, as many national and state leaders of Indian nationalism had elite training and most of them used their social and cultural capital to become rulers at various levels in India. . After Nehru as Indian Prime Minister, we see his daughter, Indira Gandhi, also blessed with the best tastes in life. She lived in Teen Murti Bhavan, the residence of the Prime Minister, was trained by her father in politics and has never known the life of an ordinary Indian. Amidst her authority and cult of personality, she was praised by her colleagues as India is Indira and Indira is India. There is no doubt that these trends show the degeneration of Indian democracy. Indira was followed by her eldest son Rajiv Gandhi, an Air India pilot by profession and an elite man trained in the West with a foreign wife, who in her early forties was destined to intervene. Of course, there are exceptions to this elite policy. Morarji Desai, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Charan Singh, Chandra Sekhar and HD Deva Gowda were Indian prime ministers from more mainstream social backgrounds. However, their hold on power was also much less for a variety of reasons.
Rise of the laity
In this context, the rise to power of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India since 2014 indicates a strong departure from previous regularities in Indian politics. Mr. Modi comes from a lower caste and an ordinary background, which indicates that people of lower origins can also be good leaders if the key to Indian politics is passed on to such laymen. This does not mean that Mr. Modi is a direct holder of the throne of Indian politics, or that he was chosen because he came from an ordinary social background. On the contrary, Mr. Modi had been in politics for many years before becoming Prime Minister of India in 2014. He had been in power since 2001 as Chief Minister of Gujarat and was controversial in the performance of his duties. ministerial power on certain occasions. But even then, the fact that he had the opportunity to lead the world’s largest democracy is no small factor. As an individual, Mr. Modi does not have a financially rich family background or elite socio-cultural lineage. On the contrary, his family background and parental status shows that he lived an ordinary Indian life, including poverty, marginalization and the negative effects of social hierarchy, which probably indicates that he had suffered caste discrimination. earlier in his life, although he is not a Dalit.
The rise to power of leaders like Mr. Modi seems to indicate that Indian politics are moving away from its elitist circles, where family background, social standing and caste status determine a person’s eligibility for higher office. He may not succeed in creating a Modian era as seen in the case of Nehru. But Mr. Modi represents a revolution of the laity, showing that postcolonial Indian democracy is not about purity of race, sperm or caste. In this, the personality of the current Indian Prime Minister is a significant reflection, one might almost say a mirror image, of the recent reassessments of the position of the Indian Constitution as the cornerstone of the nation. As historian Rohit De, who teaches at Yale University, now shows in A Peoples Constitution. The Everyday Life of Law in the Indian Republic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018), this Constitution may have been drafted by elite men, but it focuses on the ordinary Indian as a rights-holding citizen . As is increasingly evident to those willing to leave the magical circles of the elite acclaimed by heroic leaders and their products, it is possible and essential, as De claims (p. 4), to break through new methodological bases by studying the Constitution in the daily acts of interpretation of ordinary people as well as judges and officials. The fact that Indian postcolonial democracy has become in tune with the non-elitist leadership style of someone like Narendra Modi has, therefore, deeper meanings and implications than earlier traditional privilege, elitism and modernity somehow. not haughty which still left most Indians feeling that they had. do not fully belong to this nation of nearly 1.4 billion people. Anyone who is paagal enough to run for leadership in this nation has a different agenda than previous generations of Indian rulers. In this sense too, the stressful but relentless democratization of the Indian Constitution that analyzes the new book goes hand in hand with the hard work of the current leadership, which cannot rely on inherited privileges, but must justify its claims to the electoral acceptance in various ways. actions that make India the unique democracy it has now become in the global world.
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