It would be foolish to say elections 2019 in India were not the most spectacular the country has seen in recent decades. The dust will not settle even after the new government is sworn in tomorrow for the simple reason that the mandate that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has secured is so massive, it will take at least one generation if not more for other political parties to dissect, digest and decide. Let that sink in. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that even the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could not have anticipated this mandate and the full import of its success for a few months.
What does it mean? I don’t believe anybody knows. That is why I am taking all the advice that I am reading and hearing about what Modi should, must and could with a pinch of salt. There are several reasons for this. The first is that most advisers are clueless about what it takes to win a single Lok Sabha seat and what it means to directly connect with thousands of people. Their advice is premature and in many cases woefully disconnected with India.
Secondly, most of it is based on patterns that do not speak to our country anymore. The next patterns are yet to emerge and rushing to fill the vast spaces created by the vote is foolish. The vote is as much for Modi as it is for every Indian who will henceforth be more alert and demanding of accountability, performance, and progress. We are guardians of our own destiny and we will look down on patronizing from New Delhi as much as we will from Washington or London. Political cultures take time to birth, evolve and grow – that is the kind of change we have offered to ourselves. In this equation, the mutation is not an option anymore – not for politicians, not for intellectuals and certainly not for soothsayers.
Personally, I see this new journey of 1.3 billion Indians as that of pilgrims treading a new path, together and with each other, with our myriad melodies and ambitions. In this Philharmonic, ensemble, voices of responsible dissent must be encouraged and assisted so that India’s dignity prunes and discards vicious personal agendas and greed.
There are no comfortable perches for people to chirp from now. This includes the so-called left and the so-called right and everything else in between. I weigh my words carefully. India is a pre-industrial society and trying to fit into labels that never made any sense when we became a free country make even less sense today. We have to evolve our own language, our own idiom, our own ideas as well as our own path that is not distorted by needless influence from abroad. This means responsible engagement with a world that is increasingly turbulent and demanding and might I dare say, even envious of India that remains united despite the many pulls and pressures. We cannot do this if vested interests in India continue to cause turmoil that is not understood democratically. These interests exist across India’s political spectrum. Ambitions hide in obvious places.
We have also voted to rule over our minds and hearts. We matter. Our work matters and for us to grow, we need at least one million jobs to be created every month. This is the only thing that matters to me for now because there is massive historical evidence to show that a gainfully employed people are peaceful people. The maxim “an empty mind is the devil’s workshop” is not just a string of words – in India, it is given political currency, hands and legs and in some cases, weaponised and radicalized so deadly politicians can prosper. We the people of India will have to call out not just language, but also context and most importantly, intent. Language influences thinking, context influences policy. Intent points to agendas.
As I write comes news that none of the Chief Ministers from Congress party-run states will attend Modi’s swearing-in ceremony tomorrow if their President Rahul Gandhi doesn’t. This is the pettiness and corruption that India just slapped and relegated to a sideshow. This is really unfortunate given the fact that there exists a vast pool of talent in India’s oldest political party. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee whose party was routed is sulking as well, adding to the last whimper of negativity that India has handsomely rejected. How poorly these politicians have ready us, a forgiving and accommodating people. What a contrast between a sulking and a soaring India.
The Prime Minister will not be able to steer India on his own. We have given him this mandate and he acknowledged the challenge in his address to parliamentarians a few days ago. We have work to do to ensure that the responsibility we have handed over soars to meet the India we want for our children and their children. Keep the faith and keep the watch. We are guardians of our own destiny as never before.