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Will A Newer India Throw Off Old Oppressions?

Posted by Barry Pittard on February 10, 2009

As India edges towards superpower status, we see a newer and more confident generation.

It is a long time since I taught at the Sathya Sai college at Whitefield, (via Bangalore, South India), having a wonderful teaching experience in all three years of the Bachelor’s Course, where there were students from various classes from villages to palaces. It was moving to see what was emerging.

When I first went to India, it was only thirty years away from India’s Independence, which she gained  on August 14, 1947.   In his famous ‘Tryst With Destiny’ speech, her first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. A 'tryst with destiny'

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. A 'tryst with destiny'



spoke of a time: 

“when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance….. We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again”

The historic perspective was the gradual annexation by the British East India Company from the middle of the 18th century and India’s subsequent crippling experience of British rule. And, much earlier to that, the waves of Mughal invasion and expansion.

Of course, uncomfortable passages between older and rising generations is, everywhere, the very stuff of great literary preoccupation. As I recently discussed, India, like other old cultures, has a millennial tradition for respect for elders. It is a very cohesive force, and young cultures that do not have it in such abundance are in deepest trouble.

Among other effects, this means that ruling class parents as they move from the direct hub of power can – whether now dead or old – peer all the more hauntingly over their children’s and grand children’s shoulders. There are minuses here as well, as in the example of nepotism, to cite but one example, for there can be the continuance of social and religious oppressions on a wide scale.

Those of India’s more visionary thinkers and planners who can see India’s way out of trouble – without leaving matters up to the so-called democratizations of a gross and rampant capitalism – will be her new heroes.

For the young Indian elites, the excitements and material rewards of their finding themselves at the helm of a superpower may accede all too much to the work of statecraft and and of a getting-‘there’-quick. One may pray that they may not and that they achieve mature balances between realpolitik and humane governance.

It is to be hoped that their rise will usher in a new India, a shining one in which what glitters is far more than gold, and in which, while maintaining her incredibly rich and varied culture, the young will throw off India’s international image (not in every respect a correct one) as a land of vast superstition and of endemic corruption, social turmoil, private opulence and public squalor.

One Response to “Will A Newer India Throw Off Old Oppressions?”

  1. […] Will A Newer India Throw Off Old Oppressions? […]

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