India today presents three contrasting pictures or one could say that India is not just one India but composed of three different Indias which greatly differ in terms of their social composition and economic well-being.. These three Indias can be classified as 'The Shining India'; 'The Suffering India' and 'The Pampered India'. In a recent parliamentary debate a leading Leftist leader referred to the first two but did not extend his intellectual horizon to the third for reasons which would emerge at the end of this column.
'The Shining India' segment can be said to have propelled India to its present rates of remarkable sustained economic growth. It constitutes India's middle- middle class and upper-middle class. It also covers India's captains of industry, its industrialists and its enterprising businessmen. They constitute nearly 30% to 40% of India's population and this middle and upper middle segment is the world's largest such segment and is larger than even the entire population of the United States.
'The Shining India' segment is the one that has powered India's thrust in the global consciousness as a global power in the making by their intellectual and knowledge power. India's political leaders or its political class cannot share their credit for India's global rise as their lopsided 'reservationist policies' worked against the rise of this segment. 'The Shining India' not only powered India's rise but are also contributing their knowledge power to other countries to which they moved like the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe. Why was India drained of a good proportion of its talent to other countries? The answer is simple and one can quote the example of Tamilnadu which lost heavily on this count followed by Andhra Pradesh. In Tamilnadu especially its political class went into an overdrive against upper class Hindus and sought to close all doors to them by bringing about 60% to 70% reservations both in educational opportunities and job opportunities. The result was an exodus. Overall in India except recently the political leadership did not generate a climate where merit and knowledge would receive primacy over mediocrity.
'The Suffering India' segment of India today in my estimation is the lower middle class Hindus and the economically weaker sections of the Hindus at the lowest economic scale. They are not covered by any reservation quotas being socially classified as upper class. The children of this segment despite possessing ample intellect and knowledge power have to compete for the meager 30% of seats in higher educational institutions and jobs after 60% to 70% seats have been taken away by the 'reservationists'. Lacking the financial clout of the middle class they cannot even move abroad. The ones who cannot make it to success in the 30% opportunities left for them end up as frustrated and resentful of the prevailing political system which militates against them by its reservationist policies. In course of time this could possibly have grave social and political implications for India.
'The Pampered India' today can be classified in my estimation as Other Backward Classes/Scheduled Tribes/ Scheduled Classes that is all that are covered by Reservation Quotas. To these then needs to be added the Indian Muslim Community and last but not the least India's political leaders and the political class.
Taking the last named first it needs to be said that India's political leaders and its political class in the last 60 years have thrived not by any substantive contributions to India's greatness but on the divisive politics of reservation quotas and appeasement policies of the Indian Muslim community to retain them as captive vote banks and as their leverage to stay in political power. India's reservation policies were constitutionally valid only for the first 50 years but India's political class knowing that they could not stay in power without such captive vote banks pushed in legislative changes to achieve their political aims.
'The Pampered India' topmost layer is the political class that sheds tears at the plight of their captive vote banks despite being conscious that they have done nothing substantive except for putting them on the crutches of reservations which does not unleash their natural talent . On the contrary this political class is all the time voting for itself self-decided phenomenal raise in their pay and allowances, perks and pensions.
It is a pity that the Indian Muslim community has allowed itself to be exploited by the so-called 'secularists' of the Indian political class. By drumming into their ears constantly that India's Rightists are against them these 'secularists parties' have not only prevented the natural assimilation of the Indian Muslims in India-at'large but also type-casted them as being against India's majority community. This is regrettable as the two communities co-existed for centuries without any 'secularist ' ideologies being propagated by the rulers of the day. In the process these "secularists' parties in league with the Indian Muslim religious clergy has prevented the rise of the younger 'progressive elements' leadership in the Indian Muslim community.
I have included the Indian Muslim community by default in 'The Pampered Class' so that they become conscious of the fraud being perpetrated on them by those of the political class who champion their exclusiveness for their narrow political gains and made them reach a stage where they are now sought to seek reservations.
India's rise towards greatness is being powered by 'The Shining India' despite the divisive policies of its politicians. Slowly, but imperceptibly, it is my belief that many would graduate from 'The Suffering India' to 'The Shining India'. It is now for the Indian Muslim community and the classes covered by 'Reservation Quotas' to decide whether they should breakout from the captive vote-bank politics of those who wish them to remain so and join 'The Shining India' mainstream. This they can do so by using their electoral power judiciously to change the distortions in India's electoral balance rather than being captives of vote-bank politics.
India 's need of the hour is the emergence of a new qualitatively different breed of political leaders and political class that builds on the 'positives' of a resurgent India and whose political horizons transcend divisiveness as a political weapon to stay in power.
India as opposed to present day political leaders needs political leaders who can weave together the strengths of all the three Indias discussed above so that the whole of India can be termed as 'The Shining India'.