Indian General Elections of 2014 might be a turning point for India. This will be the year that will decide image and thereby the path India takes.
A polarizing figure has been emerging ahead as the prime ministerial candidate. But the biggest threat is not the leader’s rise but how it is affecting the Indian culture itself.
Polarization is always a powerful but divisive force, especially in a riot-prone country like India. The last time such polarization was seen it was confided only to the Hindi-speaking belt of India. Remember the Babri Demolition?
But this time around it is more widespread. And we need to avoid it at all costs. The more precise statement would be to avoid a “German Catastrophe” in India.
Let’s retrace the German past.
A five-feet-8-inches tall, war veteran with blue hypnotic eyes suddenly reacted ferociously to him being called “Pro-Jewish”. A right-wing university professor listening to the conversations, promoted Hitler to “education officer” at German Army’s Political Department. Like every student, Hitler had Anton Drexler as his guide to beginner’s politics. Suddenly, I can visualize Keshubhai Patel instead of Drexler. How a once supreme leader in Gujarat was thrown out of his own party!
Post-War Germany was low on confidence. Corruption, unemployment (especially amongst the educated), inflation and negative growth rate engulfed the German imagination. Then came Hitler, a master orator and extreme nationalist. He promised his country that his policies would lead Germany to world power status. There will be no poverty, no unemployment. And for many years, he did walk the talk. He was a darling of the industrialists, who funded his Armament Factories in return for state favors. People in Germany were extremely happy and fulfilled. Their nation was rising, they were industrializing fast. Growth, growth, growth!!
By 1938, unemployment was practically extinct in Germany. Moreover, Germany even lacked manpower to fill vacant jobs. Autarky, self-sufficiency by discouraging trade with other nations, was introduced. Three strategic goals were declared that were to be reached at all costs; the construction of synthetic rubber plants, more steel plants and automatic textile factories.
While all this was happening, Germany reached a fiscal deficit of $ 38 billion by 1939. On a side note, Gujarat’s current debt is Rs. 1.35 lakh crore. As big business became increasingly organized, it developed an increasingly close partnership with the Nazi government. The government pursued economic policies that maximized the profits of its business allies, and, in exchange, business leaders supported the government’s political and military goals.
All this was being implemented while the Jews, a religious minority were being persecuted at every point. In the end, an overheated economy forced Germany to a World War for expansion. What happened after that is well known to us.
We, in India, need to avoid a similar trap. Of course, our growth has gone down, our prices have risen, corruption is rampant. We definitely need a regime change. But let’s not make our choice based on which is one is the lesser of two evils (not sure which one is). The main argument is: We should be scared, very scared.
The comparisons between the two leaders are very prominent; even when described in just adjectives – self-sufficiency, high growth, brilliant oratory, zero unemployment, etc.
So, the obvious question should definitely come to every mind: If the rise is similar, will the end be different?