Preface to the post: This post is pure fiction! As part of one our assignments in the Macroeconomics course, our teacher, Dr. Rakesh P Singh asked us to come up with a 6 page Economic Times issue dated Jan 2, 2020. So, we set down to work and I decided to write a column. So, this goes out as a column written by MJ Akbar, my favorite columnist in TOI in 2020 -
The decade ending 2019 proved to be a watershed. It panned out in a manner that was quite unimaginable when it started and yet, in hindsight, with the benefits of the wisdom it accrues, nothing could have been more logical and fitting. Mankind learns the hard way; often, it is not the wisdom of his ancestors he turns to, rather, he always wants to set examples so that his future generations can learn from his mistakes. This is an unending cycle that perpetuates and ensures that history books are always replete with new sensational material.
Indian politics turned full circle by turning to dynasty politics again. When Jawaharlal Nehru became prime minister in 1947, no Indian could have ever envisaged a Moraji Desai or a AB Vajpayee occupying the august chair. Yet, these two stalwarts did turn the tables and had their moment of glory. Is it not an irony that our democracy while remaining a sham, has managed to deliver what it was expected to? While decrying dynasty politics was the fashion a decade back, people have realized that the job of steering the nation’s ship is best left to a lineage – one whose authority is never questioned thanks to its surname and whose hold is strengthened by the sycophants who keep genuflecting at the “high command’s” (read family’s) feet without realizing the folly of it!
Coalition politics and regional parties were expected to get more arrogant, but on the contrary, the grand old party of India has consolidated its position along the length and breadth of the country thanks to the kind of campaigns run against it. The opposition lacked a strong representative voice and got fragmented into numerous disjoint pieces while the center-of-left parties found that their populist ideology was usurped; they were left without any moral high ground to argue from, when the intellectuals abandoned them en mass.
In India’s villages, a remarkable transformation took place. Armed with the benefits endowed by the UID and the boom in the rural banking sector, the agriculture-dependent population got a bonanza, when the center, left without any alternative, permitted the entry of GM crops. The anti-GM lobbyists had to find alternative employment. Middle men and money lenders couldn’t find any villager to dupe and exploit. The resurgence of hope in the rural voter began to have multiple effects. Having seen the benefits of technology at first hand, the population finally began to see the benefits of education. If one were to single out two right investments, the Indian Government made during the last decade, they would be primary education and the UID Project.
As we face a new decade, we encounter a greater period of uncertainty than ever before. Any forecast of trends and directions would be futile; yet it is not difficult to foresee that this new decade needs a new maxim. While it is easy to gloat over the successes we have had, unless we equip ourselves with a broad set of moral imperatives, we might run out of luck. Indeed, the world is poised at a crossroads. The Indo-pak issue and the US-china issue, both of which threatened the very existence of mankind, have now come to be characterized by a deflation. Both Pakistan and the US have been stripped and shown for what they are – the duplicity of the former exposed and the unbridled greed of the latter, running out of easy prey. While the USA has reconciled itself to the existence of a superior economic power, Pakistan continues to throw tantrums and seek attention.
The geopolitics of the world has seen the emergence of new powers – Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC). If these four powers are to consolidate their places of reckoning in the global order, they must co-operate to address the newer challenges before they begin to appear insurmountable. To start off, we must realize the importance of learning from our past mistakes. We must put a stop to the lethargy inherent in procrastination. The new decade, in a sense, needs a new maxim, one that would encompass the lessons of the previous decade–
· Sustained accountability of the power wielders – Power corrupts unless it is held accountable; the only incentive for a voter should be the intention of the power wielders to be answerable to their electors.
· Moderation of greed – We face a severe natural resource crunch; technology can only save us to a certain extent, so long as innovations keep cropping up. We need to moderate our greed for increasingly lavish lifestyles in the interest of our future generations.
· Equitable distribution of wealth – Social unrest arises primarily because of disillusionment with the state resulting from a unfair distribution of the fruits of labor. It is incumbent upon the Governments to ensure that there is equitable wealth distribution
· Reduction of nuclear warheads – the threat of an impending global doom doesn’t augur well for peaceful progress. Instead of talking about global peace in every forum, the BRIC 4 should start acting by reducing their nuclear warheads.
· Check on newer forms of terror – Conventional terrorism thrives on ignorance. However, rapid technological advances might result in newer and more subtle forms of terror.
While we need to congratulate ourselves for the hard earned fruits of the past decade, a word of caution isn’t misplaced. Scaling a peak would just remain a fashionable adventure if it soon becomes uninhabitable by thoughtless action.
Shall soon post one more article - all part of Jan 2, 2020!!