Sunday, August 30, 2020

NATIONAL SECURITY OUTLOOK OF INDIA: NEED FOR A PARADIGM SHIFT


[At this juncture of history, India faces a predicament that probably very few big powers or civilizations may have faced in their entire journey. Its potentials and opportunities to rise as a major global power are entwined with formidable challenges. India’s rise as a  global super power can be the biggest possible antidote to both Islamic radicalism as well as opaque authoritarianism. But impediments - both internal as well as external – in this direction could be far too daunting]


NEED FOR A PARADIGM SHIFT

India has long ignored the complexity of its own geopolitical context, internal governance contradictions and the gravity of combined identity-driven threats from its two hostile nuclear armed neighbors. One of them is known as the epicenter of terror and patron of organised crime in this pat of the world and beyond. The other has emerged as a super power but has traditionally trampled upon its own masses and rampaged nearly all its neighbors. Military-controlled state power structure has thrived in Pakistan on congenital hatred towards Hindus and non-Muslims, whereas China cites its civilizational superiority to justify forcible and stealthy grab of territory and resources of people in the neighborhood and beyond. Both resort to destabilization and subversion of institutions of open and transparent societies as part of their larger strategic objectives.

Amidst these, India’s long history of internal political decay, external occupation and colonial legacies have left their own after-effects. India is still battling these despite freedom and democracy. Distortion in larger values and overall mass psyche has had a crippling impact on collective capacities of people, notwithstanding multiple instances of individual brilliance. These have been impeding rise and sustenance of healthy and robust governance institutions. Notwithstanding the strength and resilience of original Indian values, which have sustained democracy in India even under most adverse circumstances, the country faces an uphill task of securing its legitimate national security interests.

 The so-called ultra-nationalist position of India’s two hostile neighbours- that hinges substantially on anti-India sentiments, albeit to varying degrees and in varying forms - has helped opaque and authoritarian regimes in these countries consolidate their grip on the state power structures. In the name of Islam and Han nationalism respectively, they have decimated their political opponents, suppressed political dissent, denied liberty to their people and yet bolstered their political legitimacy. However, China’s efficient administrative apparatus has ushered in spectacular economic transformation. It has risen on back of excruciating labour of its work force and performance driven meritocratic bureaucratic structure accountable to the political authority rather than people.

 Chinese governance model has won endorsement of large sections of people at home and admiration of many abroad. Cohesion and efficiency of its governance apparatus to respond to any crises or extra ordinary situation has been manifest in its handling of Covid crisis. Unfettered by any concern for human costs, Chinese governance institutions can act more decisively, swiftly and flexibly than most democracies. However, its authoritarian structures poses as much threat to global security as the Military backed and crime driven establishment of Pakistan.

 China’s intent and capacity of strategic domination of the region, and beyond, is reflected in the quality and trajectory of its military-security advancements and innovations. These have been backed by a unique model of economic development that rests on secure and somewhat monopolistic access to resources and markets. China has successfully fused economic agenda with its security  objectives. Hence, control of strategic points on land and similarly significant sea lanes of communication become unavoidable to secure the markets and resources, which in turn fuel and fund the military-security innovations and capacities. Chinese state has developed appropriate military and non-military defensive and offensive capacities as part of its larger strategic design. It has inducted an array of highly sophisticated short and intermediate range hypersonic weapon systems, advanced stealth weapons including fighter jets, stronger Air and Satellite defence systems, as well as massive Information Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) infrastructure.

Some of these weapons systems appear capable of breaching the air defence systems of even the US bases in the region and blind both their satellite and under-water observation capacities in this parts of the world. These appear to have made China’s own defences in the region nearly impregnable. Simultaneously, its major push for naval expansion has not merely fortified its defensive capacities but also enhanced its reach way beyond its frontiers. In last 10 years, China has put more vessels in the Sea than most major powers combined. During the same period, it has also conducted more tests for hypersonic weapon delivery systems than even the United States. It has not merely bridged the gap in many of the conventional weapon systems but also built advantages in short and intermediate range offensive and defensive weapon systems. These have enhanced vulnerability of India as well as all states in Asia.

 Chinese assertiveness towards the United States has been accompanied by a bellicosity towards nearly all countries in the region, except its known lackeys. It has appeared particularly intolerant to any possibility of challenge to its supremacy in this region, which India alone is in a position to pose. Hence, it has encouraged and abetted Pakistani sponsored covert war against its democratic neighbour, which is manifest in its determined defence of Pakistani terror proxies like Hafiz Syed and Masood Azhar and unequivocal support on Kashmir. It has also exploited transparency, and even somewhat fragility, of India’s regulatory institutions to clandestinely pillage the latter’s economy through its advantages in trade and technology. Its transgressions on the Indian border need to be seen in this context. 

India’s internal governance institutions, notwithstanding their resilience and strength, appear inadequately prepared to face these challenges. This is especially given the existing pressures of meeting basic needs of large population amidst deficient resources like land and water. Lack of political consensus on key issues and social fracture simply compounds challenges in this direction.

 

PREVAILING DYNAMICS

     Successive Indian governments have always been cognizant of the gravity of the combined Pak-China threat as well as deficiencies of domestic governance institutions. However, strategic preparation towards dealing with these challenges has appeared inadequate. India seems to have ignored the threat from internal power dynamics of Pakistan, especially the way its society and state have evolved. These make it nearly impossible for large sections of Pakistani people to peacefully co-exist with India. Sustained radicalization of Pak society has been accompanied with increasing grip of deep state over levers of state power. Intensified domestic and international propaganda against India, and especially Hindus, has not only created a stronger political support base for the ruling syndicate but also helps raise an unconventional army of terrorists, criminals and radicalized clerics for an unconventional and indirect all out covert war against India. Radicalisation of youth at home and abroad, through chosen cronies, as well as support and patronage to organised crime have helped strengthen instruments of covert war against India.

 Economies of scale have forced this infrastructure to turn global and a significant component of terror and radical groups have also slipped out of their direct control. Nevertheless, they have retained control over a larger number of these through a blanket curb on civil society and dismantling any progress towards rule of law or transparency in criminal justice system. Such an arrangement enables the ruling syndicate to retain a strong control over the territory of Pakistan, as well as substantial parts of Afghanistan, in conjunction with their terror proxies like Taliban and Haqqani network. However, possibility of a large-scale turmoil in that country remains a reality, as the process of splintering of multiple groups and factions is inevitable in long run. It will have to be seen how Chinese deal with such situation to guard their investments in that country.  

The very dynamics of the existing power structure in Pakistan has necessitated building a formidable network of global terror, crime and subversion. They have propped up and sponsored some such groups on their own but also built up linkages with many of the existing ones.  These extend from South East Asia to India to Africa to Europe and going all the way to South America. Besides terror in  the region beyond, Pakistani footprint has been more than visible in nearly all shades of organised global crime. These vary from drug trafficking, counterfeiting of currency, money laundering to extortion, betting and bribing networks to street crime among others. All of these can be used as potent tools of subversion as well as garnering illegitimate clout.

During cold-war era when West was using Islamic radicalism as a strategic tool to counter communism, Pakistan sold its services to these powers. But over the past few 2-3 decades, it has drifted to the Chinese communist regime helping it reach out to influential elements both in the Muslim world as well as some of the Western countries. Chinese patronage of Pakistan’s subversive activities in India is widely believed to be aimed at obstructing accelerated march of the World’s biggest democracy to economic prosperity or stronger internal cohesion. Pakistani clout with the drug-crime networks in the Western world has also enhanced its clout and even utility for them. They have traditionally been believed to be collaborators in West's counter-terror strategies, despite backstabbing them by shetering some one like Osama Bin Laden among others. 

Many western powers have appeared reluctant to antagonise Pakistan beyond a certain point. This was evidenced in a fairly soft approach of nearly all major powers in Asia-Pacific Group (APG) on Countering Terror Finance (CTF) on brazen defiance of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guidelines by Pakistan. Hence, it is doubtful that even a near global outcry against Pakistan for its collusion, support, patronage and sponsoring of terror, as well as organised crime, may result in commensurate tangible actions. 

In fact, complicity in terror and crime has appeared to offer a significant clout to Pakistani ruling syndicate. This has been amply manifested in their facilitation of US-Taliban agreement in Afghanistan, besides their so-called support in counter-terror investigations and policies. In a fluid geopolitical situation, Pakistan remains a possible conduit even for a potential deal between the West and China in future. India needs to be alive to such possibilities, especially in tighter situations where choices could be limited. Several elements even in the Western political and security establishments could reconcile to the idea of restricting the Chinese domination of Asia and confining Pakistani activities in this region.

The cost of confrontation with China continues to escalate for the West and so does the dismantling of Pakistani terror- crime network . India has to come out with innovative strategies and stronger institutional capacities to curb both expanding asymmetry of power with China as well as crush the covert war from Pakistan at minimal cost and within a reasonable time-frame. A stronger governance reforms that integrate security priorities with complementary economic and technological objectives would be indispensable.

Diplomatic support and international goodwill do constitute a critical ingredient of national power but given the fluidity of geopolitical equations in general, these do not always translate into tangible and dependable strengths.  Unconditional military-security support appears extremely difficult if other parties do not have an equally abiding stake on issues at stake, or if their gains are not commensurate with the risks involved. With onset of an inward-looking United States that has withdrawn from several of its international treaty obligations, the entire global equilibrium has become a little more uncertain. Major international powers cannot afford to risk their core national security interests on international goodwill and shelve plans and opportunities to empower themselves on their own. 

With relative erosion in economic and technological supremacy of the United States, and increasing assertion of China, India is left with no other option but to pursue an agenda of transformation of its economic, technological and governance capacities more seriously. These alone can sustain a proactive strategy to deter hostile intents and actions of actual and potential adversaries.  India will have to shun its inward-looking approach to engage, influence and shape issues and events beyond its frontiers to safeguard its core interests. It must do so at minimum military-economic costs. This would require building comprehensive defensive and offensive capacities with the highest possible levels of innovation in every sphere.

India’s defence forces have displayed the highest standards of professionalism and bravery in protecting legitimate military interests of the country. However, political-bureaucratic and corporate institutions, notwithstanding few notable exceptions, have struggled to provide a stronger economic, technological and social support in this direction. Inability of these institutions to harness existing tangible and intangible resources into comprehensive national strength is manifest in the prevailing asymmetry of similarly sized China that had a somewhat identical background until half a century back.

Inability of several of our governance institutions to perform optimally or respond decisively and swiftly to emergent challenges, has been worrying. The ongoing Covid pandemic has already tested our capacity to handle an epidemic or natural calamity of a large scale or secure food-water-energy-communication needs of a massively expanding population over long run. With depleting resources like land and water, the challenge is going to be increasingly formidable.

Given the enormity of the security and geopolitical challenges facing India, the pace of its economic-technological-governance advancements have appeared fairly slow and sluggish, with deficient levels of innovation. Post-independence India has contained many of its internal feuds and fissures quite well but its larger national cohesion has remained under stress. This is both due to deficient criminal justice system as well as poorly regulated political competition. These, in turn, have been undermining optimal industry, enterprise and social stability, resulting in sub-par economic development as well as sub-optimal technological innovations.

 These together with sloth and inefficiency in large sections of bureaucracy have eroded overall competitiveness of Indian economy in a globalised world. With competitiveness in trade and advantages in technology acting as lethal tools of depredation, something for which war was required in the earlier era, India cannot afford such a situation. Despite some enclaves of excellence and stellar accomplishments of Indians outside India, there is need for serious improvement in overall quality and productivity of all institutions of governance. This will not be possible without transformation in the larger social and economic ecosystems.


AN OPTIMAL BUT NOT AN ABSOLUTE SECURITY COVER

While no country can practically obtain an absolute level of national security, which is not worth even the labour and pain, but every major power has to optimise sum-total of its institutional capacity to prevent, preempt and deter both real and potential conflicts. Such capacity must be sustainable and conflicts and challenges must be addressed in a manner that does not erode long-term potential and capacities of the nation. India’s progress in this direction has remained inadequate largely due to: a) formidable nature of geopolitical challenges; and b) inherent and inbuilt constraints of some of the existing governance institutions due to colonial legacies and larger distortion in values and outlook. While tactical challenges need to be dealt with tactically, but a long-term strategic approach is critical for building a sustainable national security capacity.

India as the oldest civilization and the biggest democracy in the world needs to redefine its identity and priorities both in the interest of its people as well as larger stability of the world. It must not merely respond to threats and challenges but should attempt redefine the regional global equilibrium. Its inherent values and ethos are such that any progress towards optimizing the quality of its own security is likely to enhance the quality of global security. However, it has to pursue creation of conducive internal and external environment for its own growth as a society and state.

India and Pakistan are not comparable. In terms of Civilization, Pakistan – with its essentially Mamluk and decadent Mughal psyche- remains a destitute, lacking any past or vision for future. It has been least concerned for its own masses. The ruling syndicate has been using Islam to deploy various shades of criminality, violence and coercion to silence political opponents at home and deceitfully subvert institutions of open and transparent societies through various criminalized actions that have been part of its strategic policy to build a global clout for itself. Its congenital hatred for India has provided the raison-d’etre for both its own identity as a state as well as building such elaborate capacity for covert war.

     On the Other hand, despite the camouflage of communism, China has regained its earlier political trajectory of authoritarian imperial rule with the backing of an efficient civil service and professional army. Masses have remained oppressed and voiceless and yet contributing to the larger prosperity of its elite. The critical difference is that large sections of people have moved out of poverty. Better access to nutrition, healthcare and education has transformed most of them into stronger productive force for accelerated economic development. Nevertheless, higher echelons of political and economic power structure remain inaccessible to overwhelming majority of masses.

    With an efficient governance mechanism, driven by sense of civilizational superiority, China has continued to expand both its territory and domain of influence. It is likely to generate considerable human cost both at home and abroad until such time its systems crumble and collapse due to their inbuilt contradictions of opaque authoritarianism. This would be largely due to absence of safeguards or inbuilt checks and balances in their institutions. However, such a scenario can have devastating consequences whenever it happens. 

A NEWER NATIONAL VISION BACKED BY COMMENSURATE CAPACITY

India has been a much older civilization than China and a rootless Pakistan that represents a somewhat vagabond Mamluk-Mughal psyche of pleasure, plunder and loot through deceit and deception. India's nobler and loftier original values were sought to be revived during freedom struggle as well as in the aftermath of independence. But the country's strategic psyche and outlook suffers from negative impact of centuries of internal decay and degeneration. It has perennially suffered from insufficient internal cohesion and lack of stronger external strategic vision. This is what explains its disintegration, decay, degeneration followed by prolonged external occupation during medieval era, despite exceptionally glorious past. Some of the pitfalls of deficient strategic psyche continues to haunt it even now. Hence, it has ignored the external threats and overlooked internal contradictions for far too long. Its inability to optimally mobilise itself to address governance and security and priorities has been amply manifest even during Covid crisis even though most would believe that majority of governance institutions have been energized by personal appeal of Prime Minister Modi. 

Nevertheless, India has to cover a long distance towards building a reliable and sustainable national security cover that can manage external threats and optimizes internal internal strengths. In practical terms, it must translate into adequate institutional capacity to: a) conclude and eliminate the threat of covert war from Pakistan as well as space for radicalism within the country,  It must be achieved at minimum human and material costs and within a reasonable time frame;  b) Contain, or at least deter, the threat from China in every dimension; and c) optimize economic, social, military, technological and diplomatic capacities by harnessing all tangible and intangible strengths. 

This would require an extra-ordinary innovation to create a contemporary national vision and national outlook, that is consistent with Indian realities and Indian psyche.  It must be backed by adequate governance-security capacity that is sustainable in our context and yet contributes to our comprehensive empowerment as a state and nation. A stronger and sustainable national security capacity has always been one that integrates economic, military, political and social institutions and strategies in manner where each empowers the other. Hence, there is need to revamp institutions and outlook across the board. 

THE BRASS TACKS

India's defence forces - with the highest possible traditions of courage, valour and professionalism- have deftly handled tactical threats and challenges, even middle and higher rungs of serving military officers are known for deeper strategic understanding of geo-strategy and military security issues. However, it is well known that strategies of military warfare too are changing and military capacity on its own is not sustainable. Military institutions need a supportive and conducive ambiance to thrive, flourish and evolve. Simultaneously, tactical capacity of other civilian security apparatuses require suitable uplift, where it can supplement military capacity of the Indian state. What political leadership and other stakeholders of India can do is build a stronger strategic and institutional capacity and ensure optimum synergy between strategic goals and tactical priorities. 

Higher quality of human resources, in terms of stronger physical-cognitive-technical capacities, as well as the larger values like integrity-industry and enterprise, have traditionally constituted the base of the pyramid of national security. Instead of sheer numbers, it is these attributes that reflect the real strength of a population. It is these that determine productivity of soldiers, industrial, workers or agriculture workers or entire work force of a nation. 

India’s records are quite alarming in this direction. Relatively low life expectancy, high incidences of malnutrition and morbid diseases, impaired cognitive skills and stunted growth of large percentage of children, among others, have led to physically weaker and deficiently skilled work force. With poor access to high quality technical- professional capacities and even life skills, the overall productivity of collective human resource of India is way below the potential. It dilutes the advantages of sheer numbers. Such challenges appear unlikely to be resolved by the existing free-flowing, and somewhat chaotic, dynamics of markets or state of existing governance and healthcare institutions.

Simultaneously, disproportionately larger sections of our healthy and productive working population appear to have been sucked into professions like political activism, cinema, infotainment, marketing, advertising, liaison, public relations etc. These, together with various shades of disguised unemployment, or not so productive white-collared jobs, are such whose real contribution to the tangible national output may be suspect. These could be symptoms of a deeper underlying challenges like extreme inequality, deficient regulation, and structural imbalances of inadequately regulated market economy.  It will stretch the genius and imagination of even the best among Indian economists to find innovative solutions. We have to explore solutions beyond the prevailing dynamics of market economy or state control to gainfully harness advantages of large population.

Simultaneously, the nature of reforms that we need in regulatory and enabling capacity of the state may not have any ready-made parallels. We require much stronger and sharper capacity to segregate the bona-fide corporate entrepreneurship from subversive theft of resources in the name of private entrepreneurship. The former needs to be nurtured, protected, encouraged and supported in the larger quest of economic and technological advancement but the latter certainly needs to be deterred.  

Indian state requires more innovative approach and strategies to build its private sector as a genuine partner in wealth creation and generation of gainful employment. Given the quality of upper layers of human resources, India’s private sector can be a much bigger driver of economic and industrial prowess as well as technological innovation and excellence. Substantive progress in this direction would be difficult in absence of larger trust-based social systems, which encourage and sustain a wider culture of excellence and integrity driven leadership. It will test capacities of major stakeholders of the country to unleash such an agenda of transformation of institutions of state and society both.

Internal cohesion has always remained the most critical ingredient of national security. These have enabled states to handle external threats better. Despite sustained assaults on social harmony, and downsides like caste-based divisions, India’s cohesive heterogeneity has remained fairly robust and resilient. However, situation could be far better with a genuinely efficient criminal justice system. Stronger curb on malicious abuse of freedom of speech and expression or even deterrent action against malicious crime on part of incumbents in state and society would be critical for securing our governance capacity.

Simultaneously, India needs innovative and low-cost strategies to curb internal fissures. These erode capacity of the state to deal with external subversion and even military aggression. Despite consistent clandestine efforts of Pakistani deep state sponsored networks, overwhelming majority of Indian Muslims have remained immune to subversive propaganda and derive pride in their Indian identity. However, all identity-driven fissures, including radicalism in the name of Islam, can be addressed only through combined efforts of criminal justice system and societal initiatives like persuasion, communication and social reform strategies.

While, subversive radicalism peddled by hostile forces through clandestine global networks needs to be dealt with exemplary and deterrent coercion but political exploitation of identity divides could have serious negative impact on internal cohesion. However, coercive actions of state can have deterrent impact only if these are channeled through a process of credible and impartial criminal justice system. 

There are large number of studies suggesting that organised subversion- including radicalization and religious terrorism - and organised crime thrive and feed on each other. These eventually build a spiral of their own, making it difficult to differentiate normal corruption and sponsored subversion. India has to find a more effective solution to deny space to organised subversive and crime networks which have been flourishing, with the clandestine support of hostile forces.

With strong pockets of global influence, these clandestine networks, aided by access to advanced technologies and ability to operate swiftly and flexibly, can wield far more influence than what one can visualize. These can potentially subvert key institutions of state, interfere with our democratic governance processes and institutions to the detriment of our comprehensive national security. In certain situations, these can virtually paralyze capacity to key institutions to defend and protect even legitimate national interests of a democratic country.

 Gravity of the threat of subversion to open and democratic states and societies is manifest in the US allegations of external interference in its electoral process as well as key decisions of some other institutions. Sections of US media have highlighted this issue along with malicious abuse of the mechanism of lobbying by exploiting open nature of their society. Australia too has alleged consistent clandestine Chinese interference to exact its natural resources at a preferable prices. It is difficult to fathom the entire reality in this direction but available inputs expose greater vulnerability of even the most powerful democracy of the world to subversive assaults of clandestine nature.

United States, even with the most comprehensive network of efficient and autonomous institutions - enjoying access to most sophisticated technologies- has struggled to contain clandestine threats from China. Given the larger fragility of India’s governance or regulatory institutions, and intensity of hostility of some of its adversaries, its task is well cut out. Tactical efficiency like improvement in transparency in financial transactions, including electoral funding, or curb on bureaucratic corruption or curb on money laundering may be necessary but probably insufficient to address the scale of threat. 

India's unique geopolitics, where it is surrounded by a number of small states, requires a more innovative approach. China has been seeking to build bases of influence in each of these states. It is possible that it may scuttle and subvert democracy in most of these states to install or retain a pliable regime in each of these neighboring states to the detriment of aspirations and interests of local population. India has to bolster its own democratic, governance and diplomatic capacities  to retain buffer status of each of these states. 

Simultaneously, the gap between military capacity of India and China has increased manifold. India will struggle to contain China on its own. It has probably a stronger requirement today, than at any other point of time in the history, to closely align with US and NATO forces, without compromising its own independence and aspirations to grow. Such understanding is in the best possible interest of even the US led West. What is worrying today is declining American interest, under President Trump, in NATO at one level and impact it may have on India's traditional ties with Russia and Iran. India has to take the West into confidence and maintain its ties with both Russia and Iran at one end and forge an understanding with the US led West not merely to pursue national interest of the two biggest democracies of the world but the larger peace and stability that the world has enjoyed under the US led international order. 

 

CONCLUSION

Hence, a paradigm shift in the national security outlook of the world's biggest democracy has become indispensable given the scale of challenges and threats. A comprehensive restructuring of institutions and outlook, howsoever Utopian it may sound,  has become indispensable as the cost of status-quo would be simply unaffordable. 

However, India, at this juncture of history, faces a predicament that probably very few big powers or civilizations may have faced in their entire journey. Its potentials and opportunities to rise as a major global power are entwined with formidable challenges in this direction. There is massive domestic aspiration- by significant potential- well as wider international support in favour of accelerated advancement of India. India’s rise is also seen as the biggest possible antidote to both Islamic radicalism as well as opaque authoritarianism. But impediments - both internal as well as external – could be far too formidable in this direction.

Besides clandestine influence of global cliques, cartels or networks - as well as rough and tumbles of globalised world- India may face resistance from large sections of its own political, corporate and bureaucratic elite. Many of them have thrived and flourished in an ecosystem of fragile institutions. They may be apprehensive of competition, transparency and meritocracy that could potentially result in loss of privileges and entitlements. A persuasive, gradual but time bound transition appears unavoidable in larger interest of national security.

China’s spectacular governance accomplishments, compared to post-colonial democracies, have raised serious doubts about the efficacy of the existing Western democratic governance institutions to transform the plight of people in the developing world. Saturating governance capacities of the Western democracies or the roots of their prosperity confirms such apprehensions. Chinese scholars often claim that West was able to establish its comprehensive material, intellectual and technological superiority over the rest largely due to colonial moorings of its early prosperity. These provided foundation for subsequent innovations, industry and enterprise. China claims to have built its prosperity and technological modernisation through sheer strength of its civilisational values and governance model, which it claims to be superior than contemporary democracy.

India’s societal ethos have retained their essentially humanist, plural and transparent nature. This is despite all pressures and distortions or degeneration, which have been backed by significant phases of resurrection. This is what explains sustenance of democracy in India even under adverse circumstances. Any drift towards authoritarianism is likely to be counter-productive given essential ethos and values of its people. This is likely to erode the capacity and output of India as a nation. Hence, the biggest democracy of the world has to explore refinement of some of its key institutions to bolster its collective national output. Proposed reform must cover political parties to civil service, criminal justice system, corporate sector, media, civil society entities, institutions of higher research, heath-care and elementary education regime etc.

 India will have to practically spearhead transition of contemporary democracy to the next higher stage of evolution for building and sustaining a stronger national security architecture. It shall have to build high quality governance institution, equipped with suitable norms, values and procedures as well as wider culture of superior skills, output and leadership. Political, bureaucratic or even corporate rent, or entitlement driven privileges or hereditary leadership, is a luxury that no dynamic society can afford within any of its institutions. Hence, reforms in political parties and corporate organisations become very critical.

 Democracies can potentially create far superior governance institutions than their authoritarian counterparts. However, they need to marshal their basic principles to build a stronger synergy between individual and institutional excellence, where both drive and sustain each other. India has to explore an integrated and yet dynamic framework of high-quality governance and social institutions. Their autonomy and independence may be crucial for optimal growth, evolution and output. But they must be able to collaborate with each other in pursuit of larger objectives of governance. This would require suitable safeguards and instruments of functional complementarity along with a wider culture of integrity.  

 Probably, challenges towards such transition would be huge. But with a decisive nationalist government at the helm, there could not have been more opportune time for the country to embark upon a journey in this direction.


 


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

My views on Pulwama terror attack at NewsX Panel Discussion

I

I have always maintained that terrorism is an act of war and not a law and order problem. To fight this war to win, we need stronger defensive capabilities at home and ability to pulverise enemy outside. Our previous generation was sleeping when Pakistan managed to acquire nuclear capacity by stealth. It is time we bolster our comprehensive national security infrastructure for a comprehensive victory and sustainable empowerment of India. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A STRATEGIC PERSPECTIVE ON NATIONAL SECURITY OF INDIA     


I have been extremely irregular with my blog and most other forms of writing in social media. This is largely due to my commitment to my primary research work captioned Quest for Indocracy. 

I believe I must write on my blog at least once every week. I did try speaking on the page of Indocracy but I had to discontinue as the response did not appear adequate. 

Meanwhile, I am posting a talk on National Security that I delivered a few weeks back. I have been advocating a strategic paradigm shift in our approach to secure our legitimate national security interests. I am sharing it for benefit of those who read this blog. Many people may have heard this talk on YouTube. 

 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

BROAD CONTOURS OF INDOCRACY-II



Indocracy envisions India as a composite and yet harmonious society and civilisation that is protected by a state with robust and yet dynamic governance- security apparatus. This is not possible without optimum harmony between state and society, where both empower each other. State must offer optimum all round security and protection to people to evolve and flourish and build upon all human faculties. Such security must not make people complacent or sedate or undermine competition or energy or enterprise. Rather these must get a fillip. Society must throw up powerful ideas and initiatives that build values and norms that enhance productivity and  quality of output of people. Yet we build such cohesion among  them that translates into comprehensive strength of entire state. The beauty of Indocratic form of democratic republicanism, or state-society equilibrium, shall be such that neither state shall oppress society nor society shall seek to subvert. Such perfect equilibrium may be impossible to achieve in entirety but the principal research on Indocracy has  translated such aspiration in to concrete and scientifically achievable course of action. With adequate space for leadership initiative, and a broader culture of integrity-driven leadership, such an arrangement can become not only sustainable but can potentially change the direction of our evolutionary journey.    

It is universally known that states and societies that have advanced faster than others are those where formal-legal governance institutions, laws and rules have been backed by social values and norms. Coercion can never be a source of sustainable excellence in any field. That is what explains demise of authoritarian communism. 

Indocracy proposes building optimal harmony goals of national empowerment and social values and habits of people. It seeks to work not only at the level of formal-legal institutions but also at the level of values and behaviour patterns of people. 

 Many of the existing social values, practices and traditions in India, and other developing nations, are obstructing a robust governance and security apparatus. These cannot be transformed overnight. But with a combined impact of legal and formal institutions as well as right role models and leadership initiatives, it is possible to bring about substantial transformation in these over the next few years. Indocracy has devised several detailed scientific principles and processes create that an energised leadership can use to build a broad consensus for time-bound comprehensive reforms in key sectors, brushing aside resistance from vested interests.   

A healthy and vibrant governance structure requires conducive ecosystem in the form of healthy and harmonious social order. I also believe that Indocracy as an ideal and value, as it existed in ancient India, needed to continuously evolve, which did not happen.  These were rather disrupted and subverted by the emergent elite much before the Mamluk invasions. In fact, there were over 700 major social reform movements on Indian subcontinent, when republics were transitioning to monarchy, amidst serious challenge to political stability and social harmony. 

The so-called intellectual elite of the era must have acted as complicit in the entire process. This is manifest in transition of massive confederation of Republic of Raja Bharat into multiple monarchies, rise of Casteism and distortion of original scriptures, which converted status of rulers from Military Generals and Bureaucratic leaders to incarnations of divinity. 

Consequently, India and Indo-Asia faced extreme decline as a civilisation and common political entity. Even though a few benefited for a few generations before succumbing to the after-effects of a decadent and subverted political order. Hence, Indocracy, despite deriving inspirations from the past and building a common bridge of legacy heritage within Asia, is strictly against going back to the past or intensifying contentious identities or endorsing any form of dynastic succession to leadership roles in any sector. It rather talks of limited tenure at the helm in all political parties at national or even provincial levels. 

Simultaneously, it envisages  meritocratic selection of leaders even in all major private sector organisations, except smaller family run  organisations with a limited outlay. Leaders in every sector need to lead austere life and act as role models for the entire citizenry.    

Since, values are most important aspect of both social life and institutions, as manifest in continuous beliefs and traditions, these need to be refined and harnessed to build Indocratic social, political and economic order. Indocracy emphasises on scientific and innovative way for reconciling conflicting identities. In long run, this will vanquish the very foundation of terrorism, radicalism and all shades of violent and illicit crime in the name of religion.  Indocracy is strictly against exploitation of any religious-ethnic or linguist identity to preach or practice social disharmony or political profiteering or even commercial gains.

In this connection, I have maintained that most of the original Indian texts were secular and scientific in nature. Unlike, Chinese, Egyptian, Arabs and Europeans, the element of magic and superstition or even secret communication with heaven that one comes across Shang and Zhou era of Chinese history, or communion with Sun God by Egyptian dynastic priest turned Pharaohs or pagan ways were not part of original Indian scriptures. Magic and superstition were later day innovations that were opposed by Buddhist and Jain movements. 

Hundreds of philosophies on the Indian subcontinent espoused Dharma in a way that sough to reassert original Indic values and practices that were under assault by emergent political elite and ritualistic practices. These distortions sought to institutionalise exalted status of the emergent elite and secure their preferential access to political power or rather perpetuate their authority. Indocracy has tried to avoid this complicated and emotive trap of history, beyond a certain point, to build a composite and harmonious social and political vision outlook for India and Indo-Asia. 

Indocracy is derived from Rigvedic and Upanishadic principles of ancient India as well as various other principles of Kautilyan and pre-Kautilyan governance and social order. These have been modified with knowledge and scientific approach of post-enlightenment era of |Europe and principles espoused in Universal declaration of Human Rights along with broader underlying Gandhian values. Several other ideas and innovations of Indian subcontinent and Indo-Asia have also been incorporated in devising the futuristic vision and structures of democratic governance. 

Indocracy has been reinforced with Sikhism’s resurrection of bravery, courage, valour and selfless service of mankind, without any discrimination. Islam’s egalitarianism, meritocracy, mandatory charity  and compassionate society as envisioned in original teachings Prophet Muhammad and further refined and practised by Sufi practitioners of Indian subcontinent also finds critical manifestation in the Indocratic social order that propel India as a society and civilisation to newer heights. Buddhism’s noble eight-fold path as well as principles of moderation or optimally harmonious equilibrium in pursuit of optimum peace and excellence, as part of Indian and Indo-Asian values are equally critical ingredient. Christianity’s emphasis on compassionate society, selfless piety and service of mankind along with Jainism’s idea of selfless universal piety and Zoroastrian notion of universal good towards all living being and similar other Indian values and philosophies that have created the unique idea of India. 

Indocracy, however, is strictly against any authority for organised religion and any religious and social organisation interfering in domain of state or attempting to fracture the idea of India. Indocracy subscribes to building a strong criminal justice system and security capacity that can offer deterrent punishment for use of organised religion for financial gains or social and political influence or preaching any hatred or discrimination against adherents of any other identity. 

What lays at the core of Indocracy is not merely some wishful aspirations but concrete, scientific and achievable restructuring of existing governance institutions that shall make realisation of these objectives and aspirations a reality. Indocracy has the potential to resurrect India, and eventually whole of Indo-Asia, as a beacon of hope and aspirations for people of the entire developing world and beyond. It can restore the faith of Maxmuller in inherent strengths of Indian values and Indian social and political order in promoting optimum human excellence and harmony. Indocracy is way beyond appealing words or hollow exhortations. 

Indocracy has also devised a scientific framework for transformation of governance and national security structures, institutions and procedures, essentially for India, which can be replicated by others. These are likely to bolster overall governance and national security capacity of states in the developing world, giving them capacity to detect threats and challenges early to effectively prevent, preempt and deter these. It offers viable ways and means of utilising  human genius and harnessing these towards comprehensive advancement of governance capacities of democracies in the developing world.

Indocracy acknowledges that complete equality is neither possible nor desirable. But universal access to opportunities is indispensable for health and harmony within societies and states. Hence, it offers optimal space for upward mobility through initiatives and enterprise but leadership level roles are  more likely to be open to those who have both the capacity and the intent to lead rather than  profiteer. 

Further, Indocracy threatens none. It talsk about building a collaborative governance order in whole of Indo-Asia and beyond. It is inspired by the idea that India has never ever colonised other people or races or plundered their resources. Freedom and peace-loving people all over the world must have a stake in stability and consolidation of India and resurrection of original Indian values through Indocracy.  An Indocratic India can propel whole of Indo-Asia and Africa to unprecedented levels of material prosperity as well as much higher levels of internal cohesion and external harmony. 
*************** 


PS: A comprehensive and detailed scientific institutional and structural construct on Indocracy is available with the author, which shall soon be in public domain. 

BROAD CONTOURS OF INDOCRACY-I



[INDOCRACY is not about going back to past or building supremacy of India over rest of the world. It is about building a more advanced democratic political structure with exceptional governance capacity  capable of transforming both plight of people as well as comprehensive national security capacity of India in a manner that offers a protective shield to all the democracies in Asia.]



Indocracy envisions a governance model that is driven by original ancient values of the Indian subcontinent and Indo-Asia, that once expanded from Central Asia to Indonesia and beyond, while adopting some of the scientific structures and processes evolved by the West. Natural evolution of this governance model was disrupted due to internal subversion and degeneration, which was followed by external invasions. 

Both democracy and republicanism were critical ingredients of original political systems of Indo-Asia, with monarchy and absolutism being later day distortions, when the institutions were collapsing. Such a political system had driven the entire region to exceptional levels of all round material, scientific and social advancement. Its ability to foster individual excellence in different spheres, and harness these towards collective and comprehensive advancement people, constituted its biggest strength. 

Indocracy envisions a scientific framework of  governance values, goals, structures and processes that can optimise and enhance both individual and collective capacity and output of people in each context rather than creating a distributive arrangement after societies have attained certain level of prosperity. Indocracy is not about individuals fighting for themselves but about a social and political order that reconciles individual liberties and collective well-being in most judicious manner. Details of institutional structures and procedures need to be modified as per requirements and realities in each context. 

Indocracy reasserts comprehensively composite cultural identity of India and Indo-Asia, where members of each identity and faith not merely co-exist and tolerate each other but respect and celebrate. It is a unique mix of Rigvedic values of Raja Bharat era, Kautilyan governance principles and the enlightenment era modern democracy, with Gandhian social values and principles. 

It seeks to channel free debate and discourse as a strength and not as a source of social fissure and potential conflict. Hence, original Indian spirit of Vaad and Samvaad, a dialogue with open and yet critical mind for learning and appreciating issues without prejudice or fear, has to be the foundation of free speech. 

It may not be possible to regulate the quality of political discourse through legal regulations alone. There shall be a need to revamp the structure of both criminal justice system as well as the structures and processes of political parties. A professional, leadership and output driven civil service shall have to be an integral component of an Indocratic political system. So will be dynamic and  competitive corporate sector, driven more by enterprise and leadership and less by profit. Simultaneous restructuring of healthcare, education systems- both in content and deliver, institutions of higher learning and research, civil society groups and media enterprises shall be essential to build and sustain an Indocratic order. 

Indocracy or Bharat Tantra seeks to combine modern democracy with Buddhist and Gandhian values of ethic and integrity. However, criminal justice-system and national security apparatus need to be driven more by Kautilyan principles and practices to prevent, pre-empt and deter all forms of external threat and malicious internal subversion. 

I have repeatedly emphasised in my public talks that welfare state is a critical ingredient of national security and not an act of altruism or charity towards poor citizens. The challenge is not to simply feed people but to make them active partners of social and economic advancement of India. Their overall capacity must be stretched and harnessed towards strengthening the larger economic, social, technological capacity of state and society

Indocracy is based on the premise that modern Western democratic values and ideals have descended in the west once these states and societies attained certain levels of prosperity. Whereas, these values and ideals were practised by Indo-Asia much before the West but these were subverted, which lead to decline of eternal Indocracy in Indo-Asia. Today, Western democracy too has been showing early signs of internal subversion and distortions. Amidst rise of opaque and authoritarian as well as radical forces, the whole world is vulnerable to serious threat. 

Under these, circumstances the idea of democracy must transition to the next higher stage before its too late. In their prevailing state, Democratic political systems appear far more vulnerable to subversion and manipulation by powerful internal and external cartels and vested interests, instead of pushing comprehensive and collective well-being of entire citizenry. Most democratic institutions, structures and processes are leading to sub-optimal advancement of people, state and societies. In many contexts, especially in the developing world, these breeding far too much of conflict, economic under-development and deficient governance, nullifying the advantages of open societies. Such vulnerability of democracy is particularly manifest in expanding asymmetry of all round power between a democratic India and authoritarian China, in favour of the latter. 

Inability of Western democratic institutions to optimise collective and individual output and happiness of people, does not mean that these should be discarded. Rather these need to be improved upon. Indocracy, which is the future shape of democracy, should be universal in nature but not necessarily confined to the Western parameters. Elements of transparency and accountability of governance processes and procedures, however, have to stay non-negotiable. 

Western democratic institutions have been created by colonial powers with their own experiences and outlook in their own unique contexts. These institutions are not capable of addressing aspirations of post-colonial societies, and particularly the one like India, which has had a long civilisational history that had faced degeneration and sustained assault on its original values. 

India’s long journey as a civilisation, has been interspersed with strong familiarity with some traditions of of trust-based rule of law, notwithstanding distortions and degeneration. These were distorted by the elite of India and Indo-Asia. India, at this juncture, must take initiative to advance the idea of democracy, by reshaping its governance institutions by its own eternal strengths but without diluting the elements of integrity and transparency devised by the Western format of Democracy. 

(To be continued) 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

WHAT INSPIRED INDOCRACY?

I have been using expression Indocracy to describe a more advanced form of democratic political and governance framework that can help transform India from a semi-developed country with modest public infrastructure and military capacity to a fairly prosperous, egalitarian, socially harmonious and cohesive country with far stronger militarily and security capacity. Indocracy envisions further refinement of democracy by resurrecting some of the original and ancient values of the Indian subcontinent. Following write up is reproduced from my page named Indoocracy:


                                                                 (  I )

When Shri Narasimha Rao took the bold political-governance step in 1991 to liberate the Indian economy from shackles of licence-Raj, it was a big move towards unleashing locked up entrepreneurial and economic energy of India. Until then,  state had allowed only few mega industrialists and chosen cronies to retain their stranglehold over aspirations of nearly a billion people. Of course, among them were few conscientious corporate leaders but the club was too tightly closed. Someone like D B Ambani had try ingenious ways to break in, through means that were not considered all that honourable.    

At that time, for a duration of nearly one year until I joined civil service, I used to argue that India needed simultaneous reforms in civil service, political parties, private sector and criminal justice system to bolster its overall governance capacity. We needed to ensure that resultant opportunities for economic competition did not turn into conflict. 

I believed that the prevailing structures of Indian bureaucracy or even political parties and even criminal justice system were incapable of either regulating this competition or absorbing the shock. No one with a bit of sense, at least in my generation, had any doubts about the promise that such a move held for our future. The issue at stake was how to harness and optimise the dividends of economic liberation for the people and the country as a whole.  After three decades of experience, my views have become more entrenched in this direction.  

While competition is critical for excellence and optimal output in any sphere, it must be fair and well-regulated. An unregulated or deficiently regulation competition turns into conflict and retards excellence and output in any institution or society. 

Many intellectuals, media and even my friends in student politics were arguing that the role
of state in economic sphere would decline following this step. I used to argue that the role of state had become far more challenging and complex and there was an urgent need to refine it. Our country needed to follow up reforms in economy with reforms in other sectors. Of course, I was disdainfully dismissed by all concerned. 

Even in civil service examination of 1991, there was a question in political science paper on this issue. I took a similar line rather than writing the standard answer. I had gone to the extent of arguing that there would be faster development for a while, following few initial hiccups and knee jerk reactions following such change, as unleashing of so much of locked up energy was bound to have a positive impact on our all round productivity. But sooner there would be conflict, confusion, contradictions and decline in pace of development, leading to social disorder and multiple other malaise. 

In absence of simultaneous reforms in political, administrative and education sectors, powerful cartels, and enterprising elements with not so sound values, could benefit far more. Some of them could rise to take over major institutions and use the government authority against the interest of Indian state and Indian people. State shall fail to contain abnormal rise in corruption and even sophisticated criminality. These could undermine ability of state to administer rules and laws fairly. 

Existing mega elite could exploit their clout to rig the process of economic competition. Newer criminalised elements who were on the fringes of economy could capture centre-stage, as state would not be able to regulate competition. There could be much larger criminalisation of politics with steep increase in financial clout of such elements. 

Thankfully a visionary T N Sheshan and the same outdated but relatively honest elements in bureaucracy salvaged our electoral process and proved such assessment wrong to some extent but not entirely in my perception. 

I had argued that we needed more specialised, competitive and autonomous civil service to support and regulate competition - both in politics and economy- and not obstruct democracy and development. We also needed more honest and efficient businessmen, which too was a rarity  those days. People who aimed to prosper must contribute to society by providing services and generating jobs. All these would require newer norms, rules and and faster output of criminal-justice system to uphold these. Otherwise,  resultant conflict and chaos could choke the entire productivity and output of people. 

I had insisted that competition could lead to excellence only if competing people  had a higher semblance of equality. There could be no competition in a race between few well-fed well educated people riding helicopters and majority of ill-fed, weak and ill-nourished people running with bare feet on rough and thorny grounds. 

While complete equality  is neither possible nor desirable in any system, some semblance of equality and universal access to economic security are indispensable for competitive economy and politics.  These alone could optimise capacity and productivity of people in democracies. 

This was the first question I had answered and examiner virtually failed me in this paper. Probably I had created an impression that I was simply bluffing and had no clue about the issue as I had not read or memorised information to reproduce it, like other good students. 

Even now, most educated Indian elite of that generation dismiss my views in this direction, on the plea that system permitted lot of upward mobility and we were far better-off today, compared to earlier times. I do believe, we need to think bigger and think differently. 

I have  harnessed my wide exposure, compared to most academics, to real life events and processes in geopolitics, governance, national security, and other spheres,  to articulate a viable and pragmatic vision of transformation of democratic governance institutions and their processes in India and the developing world. These usher in far greater prosperity and security for people in the developing world. I have named it Indocracy. The discussion shall continue. 

(To be contd.....)

( II )

I remember words of one of my esteemed elders and mentor with whom I would have interacted extensively in Calcutta, Delhi and finally at Lucknow. He was Shri Vishnu Kant Shastri, initially a teacher of Hindi and then a politician. He is the one who taught me the concept of Dharma, admitting that he could not answer me more as he had limited knowledge of Sanskrit as he was essentially a teacher of Hindi who had read a little bit of Sanskrit.

Once at his government house in Delhi, probably at Vishambhar Das Marg, he told me: “Beta tum naukri me aa gaye ho, lekin tumhare vichar nahi badle. Aise vicharon ke saath tumhein baahar aana padega nahi to tum baahar Kar diye jaoge. Lekin apne vicharon par tumhein swayam prayas karna hoga.Tum ek naye samaj ki Srijan ki baat Kar rahe Ho. Is ke liye apni Ahuti deni padti hai. Atm-bali hi samaj Srijan ka adhaar hai”. 

(Son, you have joined civil service but your views have not changed. With these views, you will soon have to come out of civil service or you will be thrown out. You will have to pursue these views on your own. You are talking about a new social order and self-sacrifice is the foundation for any creative advancement of this kind)     

Though much later even at Lucknow, once he had presented me a copper-brass statute of Goddess Saraswati, acknowledging my penchant for innovative thinking, and had amusingly asked me "Eis sade hue vyavastha mein aise vicharon ke saath kaise rehte ho tum?" (How do you manage to survive with your views in this rotten system of government service). Fortunately, I was away from mainstream bureaucracy and I never discussed these.   

I continued in my profession and kept trying my level best to be innovative and push frontiers of individual and collective excellence and yet remain a role model for my juniors. My real accomplishments can never come in public domain but I am sure some of my earlier bosses, who have mentored and tutored me during early days of my service, and whom I also opposed on many occasions in a bid to go way beyond what they coached or taught me, would concede my insane levels of professional commitment and integrity. Some of my mentors have indeed been generous to tell me that they had not come across anyone who could make more accurate futuristic projections in matters of geopolitics on a consistent basis, often by taking bold risks.  

I may have committed lot of mistakes in dealing with issues and individuals. But there was never a malice. In my crusade against cronyism, corruption and subversion of institutions,  more harassment I faced - from both visible and invisible quarters- stronger and more determined I became. It is possible even now that I can meet with an accident or suspicious death, which has been tried by a few of my former colleagues and others who have felt threatened by my views and actions. They have already attempted criminality like forgery, manipulation of records, robbery of my personal papers, and conspiracy in collusion with enemies of Indian state among others.  

But this is not going to shake my conviction in Indocracy and dream for a stronger and fairer India and a similar world. I have not been a civil society activist who has only advocated social re-engineering. I have been a member of one of multiple institutions that directly or indirectly protect the country. Even Indian elite would have benefited from enterprise, innovation and insane levels of initiatives that any one attempts in any profession but it would be particularly so in the sphere of national security.

Of course, there have been very very large number of people far more superior to me in intellect and commitment who have made far more serious sacrifices for the country. With all humility, I acknowledge that it is their contribution which has inspired me.

Few days back, a friend told me that it was utterly stupid for any intelligent and innovative person to stay idealist and adhere to such levels of integrity. She went on to argue that this country and society didn’t deserve insane levels of integrity. I urged her to look around. It is unfortunate that elite and people in power, or even others, tend to think in this manner. 

This is the time when we are seeing huge examples of selfless supreme sacrifices by large sections of in far too many sectors in course of the ongoing war against Corona. This has not happened for the first time. It has been part of Indian DNA for ages. Members of our armed forces have always made supreme sacrifice to defend the country and our liberty. So has been the sacrifices of scores of freedom fighters of India. One can only feel humbled and more inspired to try harder if one has the capacity. 

Hence, the quest for Indocracy shall continue as a tribute to all the Indians who have sacrificed themselves for a better India. All Indians who are committed to the eternal idea of India and believe in a stronger India must join our initiative. We may not achieve an Indocratic political, social and economic order in entirety at any point of time. We may not make even substantial progress in this direction in our entire life time. But still we can pursue it as the self-ordained Dharma in pursuit of a real India and a better world. 

This is the best tribute that, probably, I am capable of paying to all the martyrs who have laid down their life through out the history of India to defend India and Indian values. Some of these may be in tatters today. But Indocracy is all about resurrecting those eternal Indian values which have been the strength of India as civilisation, state and society.


(III)

Indocracy is not an alternative to Democracy. It rather incorporates all scientific aspects of the contemporary representative democracy and amalgamates these with original subcontinental values of Kautilyan, Buddhist, and pre-Buddhist era to further streamline structures and processes to minimise conflict and optimise harmony and output of people.

Post-independence India has been the only exception in the entire world, where democracy has thrived and flourished even under most adverse circumstances. This was not entirely due to our association with the West. It was more due to inherent strengths of Indian values. Indocracy is about scientifically refining the idea of Democracy to the next higher stage to bolster governance and national security capacity of a diverse and large country like India.      


I would have developed the core concept of INDOCRACY during my University days in 1980s. Both at Presidency college Kolkata and JNU,  Marxism and Marxian Revisionism were predominant ideas that were being actively discussed by politically conscious students, teachers and activists. There was no confusion about obsolescence of some of the basic premises of Marxism. But the prevailing structures and processes  of representative democracy too appeared incapable of addressing legitimate aspirations or even basic governance expectations of people, at least in the Indian context. 

It was under these circumstances that I came out with what I can say the core idea of Indocracy- the three interdependent levels of harmony: a)  within an individual; b) between individual and society; and c) between man and nature. I had worked out a matrix to show : a) how it could be achieved; and b) how can it potentially push people, societies and states, on course of a continuous and comprehensive empowerment and progressive evolution. Later, I realised that what I was speaking may not be entirely new. Yet, I continued to develop and refine this idea, utilising my experiences and observations. 

When initial discussions on Indocracy started in late 1980s, I was not confident whether the idea was strong and appealing enough and  people would take interest. I gained from experience of writing pamphlets for nearly a year in JNU. I was the only person who was trying to articulate newer ideas on behalf of a centrist political organisation on the campus. I was pitted against a formidable group of Marxist-Leftist campus intellectuals, and their more established opponents- Free Thinkers. All of them were senior to me and luminaries in their own rights, at least within the boundaries of JNU. I had to come out with an original ideological framework that was essentially Indian and yet democratic, unlike the revolutionary Marxist model of the left or radical Maoism of the ultra-left or Trotskyism and the Western liberalism of the rest.  

My JNU days friend Sanjay Sinha and Braj Jha were often hapless victim who had to endure my monologues and yet encourage me. Though I left that centrist organisation within a year, out of disgust over activities of some of their members, but my quest for Indocracy remained. And my friends over three and half decades, Sanjay Sinha and, of late, Braj Jha continue to occasionally call me up and encourage me even now. I am not sure whether they do it out of commitment to me as a friend or they really find my ideas interesting. 

Over the years, I have built a comprehensive and detailed framework of governance and social order that I describe Indocracy. I had also worked out ways and means  to pursue and achieve these. Until recently, it was not in the form of a book. It was rather in the form of a proposal, which must be still available with some of the eminent citizens of India. 

In fact, at one point of time, in late 1980s I wanted to set up  experimental model villages, by adopting few existing villages, as labs to see whether the Indocratic governance model could succeed in transforming plight of people at micro-level. Some people offered to join me in return for some  political enterprise and contributions. Thankfully, I chose to join civil service which helped me build a more comprehensive perspective, incorporating vital elements of national security. I would not have been able to appreciate these, had I joined politics or civil society activism right in the beginning. 

Since those very days, I have consistently nurtured aspiration of giving a concrete shape to the idea of Indocracy. I remember discussing it with Hon’ble late Shri Chandrashekhar, former Prime Minister of India in early 1990s. By this time, he had stepped down as Prime Minister. I had appeared in civil service examination but not joined service as yet. He was too indulgent to me and used to listen to me with amusement during prolonged interaction on few Sundays at his Bharat Yatra Kendra, Buvaneshwari, Gurugram. In fact, the seriousness with which he once took my papers and tried to read, really gave me confidence that what I was talking did make a little bit of sense. 

Subsequently, Chandrashekhar Ji would have urged me on several occasions to quit service and step into public life to translate my vision of Indocracy in to reality. He used to advise that I would never succeed in any big mission if I delayed beyond the age of 30 or maximum 35. Once, while I was travelling with him in his car in 2001, just a day before Holi, he had said in Bhojpuri: “Jitender Ji, sarkar ke nokri mein kuchhu baa naa. Rauwa ke kab se kaha tani, chali aayeen, hamani ke mil ke kucch kail jao. Khali badhiya badhiya baat batiyawala se kuchchu hoi na”.  (Jitendra, there is nothing so attractive in government service. I have been urging you for too long to come out and join me. You are not going to achieve anything by just talking good ideas). He was on way from Gurugram to AIIMS, to see someone from Koirala family of Nepal who had been admitted. Soon after that I fell seriously ill and this discussion could not be followed up and he advised me to focus on my health. After that I did meet him on couple of pleasantry calls where Indocracy was not broached. Finally I met him at Apollo hospital, following my return from a long diplomatic assignment, in December 2006. He was too pleased to see me but was in immense pain. Soon after that he passed away. 

In late 1980s and early 1990s I had become a rolling stone, changing my objectives and associations too frequently. Hence,  in early 1990s, I was looking for some stability and consolidation, with some solid governance and leadership level experiences before I could take the plunge to carry forward the idea of Indocracy. I also remember discussing it with Shri Oscar  Fernandese during late 1980s and early 1990s. He too, like late Shri Vishnukant Shastri,  has been a mentor who has treated me with far more indulgence than his other associates and proteges. Like late Hon’ble Chandrashekhar Ji, he too has shared lot of personal experiences and observations to drive home the challenges of democratic realpolitik and hindrances it poses in building an efficient governance and national security apparatus.

I also exchanged my ideas with Shri Hemant Karkare in April 2000 with whom I had opportunity to interact extensively in informal settings, while undergoing a residential training programme along with him over few weeks. He was an avid reader of Somerset Maugham and often used to listen to me with rapt attention and citing few characters of Maugham in between. He too had told me, I would soon be out of government service if I had such vision and ideas. But the dynamics and fast paced challenges of service, my determination to excel in the same,  along with my health constraints, prevented me from taking the idea of Indocracy beyond thinking, occasional scribbling or academic discussion.  

In early 2012, when I made up my mind to quit service, I had prepared a comprehensive proposal to set up a think tank and handed it over to yet another statesman - Shri Pranab Mukherjee- whom I had first known while I was a student political activist and had the privilege of his indulgent interactions for too long. This was on July  26, 2012, just a day after he had taken oath as the President of India. He always believed that even during informal discussions, I could make highly accurate futuristic assessments in matters of geopolitics, even with limited media inputs. On a few occasions, it had proved useful. 

Since then Hon’ble Shri Mukherjee has been insistent that I meet him at regular intervals, whenever I was in Delhi or even while I was transiting through Delhi. Once his close relation, Shri Rabindranath Bhattacharya @ Mr Robin, a retired IPS officer, emphatically conveyed his appreciation when we ran into each other at Chandigarh in early 2014. 

I had told Hon’ble Shri Mukherjee in July 2012 that the Indian democracy had reached a dead- end and we needed to chart out our own course with a set of comprehensive reforms in political parties, civil service, judiciary and entire criminal justice system, corporate sector, media, healthcare, education system and research institutions. These were outlined in my paper. (It will soon be published on this blog or a new blogs named: www.indocracy.org/www.indocracy.com).  


(IV)


The proposal form of Indocracy was devised following my haunting exposures to certain dimensions of serious subversion of India's governance institutions. I was convinced that it was impossible for India to optimally secure its legitimate national security objectives and goals, given the prevailing state of subversion of democratic institutions by both internal and external forces. 

I was also convinced that if we were able to build some broad consensus on certain issues, India could reach an entirely different level and trajectory of all round advancement. My ideas, in all probability, were viable and yet too ambitious to be tolerated by vested interests who had got addicted to power. It was also not possible for me to carry out preliminary work on these as long as I was in service. 

Hon'ble Shri Mukherjee, as the President of India, had a hectic schedule over the preceding few days when I met him on July 26, 2102. He promised to have a look at my ideas leisurely. It was merely an aspirational  paper, which I intended to pursue only after exiting the government service. I had left Delhi next day and subsequently remained caught up in back breaking professional commitments. 

Soon I started facing  more concerted harassment from a section of clandestine elements in influential positions both in India and abroad. They were clearly afraid of my ideas in general and some were already angered over my diplomatic professional initiatives (and not intelligence as some media reports have attributed) that had exposed the vulgar underbelly of arms kickback, serious global crime, money laundering and their influence on Indian politics. I was convinced that Pakistan (and through them probably China) linked global crime syndicates had acquired considerable clout within the Indian establishments and sections of media and they were subverting and crippling us as a society and state. I had given it in writing to the concerned authorities and subsequently as well and some of these are part of court documents. 

I could not exit service and pursue Indocracy until something unusual happened in January 2018, which again appeared an attempt to prevent me from initiating a campaign for integrity and dynamism in governance institutions of India to bolster our national security capacity. Even after that I was negotiating with Chatham House, London to set up a research cum advisory institution on governance reforms in democracies. I had already carried out a few meetings with them. I was of course challenging the patriarchic mindset where wisdom was expected to descend only from the top and positions of authority. It was once again deliberately sabotaged by a section of Indian media who indulged in malicious reporting under some pressure or enticement. 

There is no way, any genuine or patriotic Indian could be nervous at the prospect of a persuasive campaign for well thought out governance reforms for a better and stronger India.

What my intellectual mentors, guides and associates in this journey, believed that it was not sufficient that India as the oldest civilisation of the world, just some how struggled to preserve a semblance of social harmony, amidst underlying fissures. It was more important that the idea of Western democracy was further evolved in to a strong futuristic vision and architecture of governance and stronger national security capacity. 

We also needed to transform social order and larger values to optimise our cohesion, output and composite strength as a society and state. We needed something more effective than the mechanism of peaceful transfer of political power. We needed instruments and avenues to optimise our capacity and output as a state and society. Peaceful transfer of political power or coexistence of contentious identities were far too modest aspirations in a competitive world. These were likely to make us more vulnerable. 

Hence, following my eventful retirement, as the principal architect of the idea of Indocracy,  I have been writing and arguing on various platforms that why the idea of democracy needed to advance to the next higher stage. There is a write up on this very blog, of October 2018 vintage, describing my interaction with Francis Fukuyama and my insistence at his lecture at British Library London that Democracy needed to advance to the next higher stage. 

In recent years, even some of the powerful established democracies of the West have witnessed severe governance deficiencies. These are manifest in steeper levels of inequality, decline in life expectancy, lack of universal access to healthcare and economic security, mass discontent and anxiety reflected in aggressive parochial nationalism. On the other hand, democracy as a political-governance framework appears to have lost direction in most of the developing countries, notwithstanding advances in the electoral processes. 

As an ideological construct, Indocracy envisages recalling some of the original ancient Indian wisdom, values and practice to fuse these with modern democratic institutions, with suitable modifications in structures and procedures. At the core lays the vision of three-fold interdependent levels of harmony, mentioned above. This is very different from Confucian harmony of conscience of the ruler and obedience of the masses. 

Indian idea of harmony, as derived from the earliest scriptures, envisions harmony as a driver of excellence and comprehensive empowerment of people. These would be possible only by observance of a Dharma driven governance apparatus, which is backed by both values and institutions with good procedures. Optimal harmony within individual, implies strong physical, psychological, social, spiritual, emotional, cognitive and technological capacity of individuals. 

This would be possible only in a comprehensively secure, trust-centric, collaborative social order where individuals and families enjoy optimal harmony between them as well as with the outer world. This includes communities, societies, state and nature. Political institutions need to be geared towards fostering, and not fracturing, this harmony while retaining the freedom and liberties offered by the Western democracy. 

Indocracy envisions a concentric circle of social and group entities where each empowers the other. It is possible by observance of eternal Indian value of Dharma, which will be explained separately. Dharma is not about religious belief and identity but a self - regulation, which is critical for an organised and harmonious social life. Such regulation is a precondition for stronger state and society. 

 The third level of harmony talks about mutually empowering equilibrium between man and nature. Humans must never surrender to vagaries of nature but at the same time, they must not destroy the fundamental ingredients of nature that sustain and nourish all life forms. Consistent expansion of  frontiers of knowledge as well as innovation in development objectives or regulation of day today life and behaviour patterns shall become critical for fostering this harmony. 



Indocracy envisions not merely formal political and legal institutions that could be advanced versions of democracy. It rather aspires to build a conducive ecosystem that can sustain Indocratic political-economic-social order more conveniently and naturally. Equipping individuals with attributes, awareness and capacity to observe Indocratic values and practices, as well as building right role models and social systems, shall be backed by effect and deterrent legal instruments. A scientific construct of institutions and their processes are available separately.  

Probably, ancient India has been observing the three interdependent levels of harmony, as mentioned above, for a long time, at least substantially.  These had driven India on the path of sustained prosperity, social stability and scientific advancement for a long time. The entire order decayed due to lack of regular re-invigoration of political and social values and consistent refinement of institutions. A scientific research of governance and security capacity of ancient India suggests that these had been substantially distorted and subverted much before Mamluk invasions of late 1st millennium AD or little later. We shall discuss broad contours of Indocracy in next section.  

( To be continued...)


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