SIXTY ONE LONG YEARS have ticked after India obtained freedom from British rule, and we have wasted every one of them in having failed to erect correct systems to free Indians from the clutches of poverty, malnutrition, ignorance and unemployment. Even to this day India remains economically, politically and socially challenged. Freedom from the British seems to have morphed into a license for languishing in darkness. Even to this day, the only thing worth telling foreigners about India remains stories of the glory of our past and the great spiritual philosophies of this part of the world.
Caught in the habit of celebrating our past ad nauseum, we have long forgotten the need for continuous improvement, continuous global benchmarking, and continuous marching towards perfection. As India celebrates independence from Britain this week, Indians blissfully ignore the fact that they’re slaves of a flawed system of governance erected by Indians themselves, a system which is preventing Indians from becoming productive.
Against this background, KARNATIQUE examines the true India and enquires into the reasons for India’s unproductiveness. We cannot, just cannot reconcile with India having only a past and no future.
While the world awoke to life and freedom, India slept
In these sixty one years, while countries such as Israel and Korea which were reborn around the same time as India have brought themselves out of misery and established themselves as major global players, India at best portrays itself as the maternal home of unproductiveness. This fact is illustrated by the following per-capita nominal GDP statistics as of last year:
South Korea: $19,751
The above statistics is not just shocking, but outright demeaning. What this means is that on average one South Korean produces approximately 20.2 times more than an Indian, and one Israeli produces 22.9 times more than an Indian. Even an Indonesian produces nearly twice as much as an Indian. And all these are countries which either obtained independence or were formed around 1947, give or take a few years.
One wrong assumption
Many thinkers, economists, analysts and politicians who have tried to understand why Indians are so unproductive have failed bitterly in their attempt because of one wrong assumption underlying their approach: the assumption that India’s existing system of governance needs no reform, and that it is the population of India which needs to be reformed to fit the system.
In the rest of this article, we will show how our system of governance is making it impossible for India to become productive. We argue that India can never be cured of its chronic unproductiveness if we do not reform our system of governance.
How India’s system of governance breeds unproductiveness
While the world has realized the benefits of decentralized systems of governance, India remains predominantly a centralized polity, with the central government poking its nose into issues which are best handled by the states themselves. Subjects such as education and even city traffic which are impossible to be handled from thousands of kilometers away still remain in the central-list or the joint-list. Institutions of the central government follow the undemocratic practice of imposing Hindi on non-Hindi states. The government of India shies away from telling the world the truth that India is a union of linguistic states. Instead, it paints both inside and outside India the wrong picture that all Indians either ought to speak or already do speak Hindi in preference to inferior “regional languages”.
The result of all this is that Indians, who are basically made up of linguistic peoples such as Kannadigas, Bengalis and Telugus, have been confused to eternity when it comes to understanding themselves and the nature of their relationship with the entity called India. Are we Kannadigas or Indians first? Does our own language have what it takes to propel us out of our pitiable state, or not? Do we have to forego our own language in favor of a foreign language such as Hindi or not? Is Hindi the language of bread as opposed to Kannada? Should we, or should we not strive for the unity of Kannadigas? Are cooperation and teamwork the main ingredients of economic success or not? If they are, should Kannadigas and Bengalis cooperate first or Kannadigas cooperate among themselves first? Should our system of governance build a strong India on the shoulders of weak Karnatakas and Tamil Nadus? Can Kannadigas cooperate with each other in a foreign language? Should Kannadigas give up their jobs in favour of Biharis because they are also Indians? Can Kannada be to Kannadigas what Hebrew is to Israelis and what the Korean language is to Koreans – instruments of economic success? Or is it that we and our language are both too inferior to fit the bill?
In short, the undue importance of anything related to the central government or the Hindi language and the utter neglect of anything their own is the cause of utter confusion in Indians, as well as the seed of a feeling of disunity among Indians. It’s a pity that Hindiwallas who set out to unite India with one language, have only ended up fueling disunity inside every linguistic group. Kannadigas stand disunited today because of this flawed system of governance. Whereas our systems need to reinforce everything that unites Kannadigas (of which first and foremost is our language), our systems neglect every one of them.
Once unity vanishes, the possibility of Kannadigas (or any other linguistic people) doing anything together as one people vanishes. Kannadigas (as well as every other linguistic people and thereby Indians) have lost the ability to come together and indulge in any sort of economic activity. How can we build the Samsungs, the Hyundais of Karnataka after removing the first thing that unites us – our language? How can four Kannadigas come together when everything that is common to them is killed?
Because of this basic flaw in India’s system of governance, we, unlike the Koreans, Israelis and Indonesians, have not focused our attention on building institutions which educate Kannadigas and build a sense of unity among them. Instead, we have focused on building institutions for a trivial percentage of India’s population which migrates from one state to other. While our systems focus on making life easy for migrants from North India and a small percentage which speaks English, the people who stay put in their own states (who form the majority) are neglected, and their dormant skills remain untapped. This is how India’s system of governance kills productivity of Indians at its root.
It's high time we reform our system
India’s system of governance needs to be reformed to grant more powers to the states themselves. Each state must be allowed to fully sustain and develop its people by way of forging unity within each linguistic people and erecting the correct systems of governance, education and employment. The migrating minority cannot dictate the systems for the non-migrating majority. The concept of a joint-list must be declared obsolete and subjects in the joint-list must be transferred to the state-list. The central government must basically take charge of issues such as Defense and stop wasting time in things such as vehicular traffic. India must be declared as a multi-lingual state which protects and respects the different linguistic identities.
Linguistic peoples such as the Kannadigas must take up economic reforms on a war footing, keeping their own language central to the reforms. We should realize that unless we Kannadigas build institutions which teach management in Kannada, the Kannadiga people cannot be declared as possessing the skill of management. The same is true for every field of learning. Unless we can discuss Engineering with each other in our own language, we-the-people cannot be considered as a people who possess engineering skills. The state may be likened to the “sahasra sheershaa purushah sahasraakshah sahasrapaat” or a Being with a thousand heads, eyes and legs. How can that Being become productive and sell his wares in the market if his only means of knowledge – his tongue – has been cut?
It’s high time Indians realize this. It’s high time we stop the festivities for a moment and think of the grave problems facing the Indian people. It’s high time we reform our system of governance. It’s high time we started becoming productive and stopped forming the laughing stock of the world when we preach about our glorious past.