Modi told 700 NRIs in the USA that they will see India becoming the USA in their lifetime. It is striking that Modi is selling American dreams to Indian Americans. First of all, we have to understand if USA is a benchmark for any country to emulate. The USA is the oldest democracy in the world and it ushered an era of political revolutions in the world when they fought for their independence from their colonial masters.
The USA demonstrated that it is possible to have a democratic government, though flawed it is in many ways, it paved a way for Democratic Governance. At the same time, the USA has been the country of immigrants, people from Europe migrated to the USA, people from Africa were forcibly taken to the New World, Asians went to the great continent of America. It was the political system that promoted liberty, not for all but had that promise of liberty inbuilt into its constitution. When the American Republic was founded, it had a significant population of the African Americans who were not taken into consideration as the citizens but were treated as property. The full human-hood was not granted to them. They could be bought and sold.
It took a long fight for the African Americans to get their rights and they are still suffering from the worst discrimination and social problems which arise out of race relations in the USA. The USA also saw a long fight for racial justice and the fighters for the racial justice viewed the USA either as a dream or a nightmare.
King and Malcolm X symbolised these two aspirations of the Blacks: two worldviews which met in their common struggle to liberate their people from the racial discrimination and stereotyping. Indian upper castes always tried to misguide the Blacks in the USA by showing parallels between the race and the colony. The Blacks in the USA had to wait for a long to understand that the equivalent of race is not a colony, but the caste.
King was beginning to understand that the untouchability is a bigger problem and he declared that he is the untouchable of the USA. Though we do not know the “Nation of Islam” movement and its origin, some of the current black leaders are claiming that it was inspired by a Dalit from present day Pakistan. The obvious question to be asked at this juncture is what kind of Americanised India Modi would like to sell to Indians living in America?
Indian constitution came into being with a lot of discussion and deliberation. Babasaheb Ambedkar who was the student of Indian society and history tried to give the best constitution that will create a framework for solving the problems facing the newly born nation and that the Constitution will become the basis for peaceful social and economic revolution in India. He instilled a dream and a hope in India with the pragmatic mechanics and dynamics of democracy and democratic institutions.
It tried to remove contradictions within the society through peaceful social mobilisation of the discriminated majority (Bahujans) and legal framework that will ensure that it will be possible for them to realise their humanity. Unlike the USA, India is an old culture and Indians have been carrying 2000 years of the rotten caste system and the constitution empowers the citizens to fight this enemy of the Indian nation, the caste system. India has at this juncture nothing to learn from the American political system. The democratic dream of the USA has also become obscure and for many Americans it is nightmare.
Besides being the first democratic country, the geography of the USA also adds great advantage to its present status as the dominant power in the world. The USA has been aggressive on many fronts and it is one of the major sellers of the arms and ammunitions in the world. India is equipped with a lot of natural resources which can cater to the needs of her citizens.
If India is to emulate the USA, it should emulate the USA of the 1960s with its vibrant social struggle, the assertion of freedom, and the New Deal “Socialism”. For India, there are many models to emulate and learn from many countries. India can learn so much from the Denmark, Norway, Finland, and a host of other countries.
India can emulate Singapore. India can emulate even China as to how they fought the inequality and brought millions and millions out of poverty. Moreover, India must learn from its social history, from its constitution, from its tradition of enlightenment and reasons, from its great founders like Babasaheb Ambedkar. We must sell the dream of India as enshrined in the constitution.
Modi’s India is slowly turning into a nightmare for the Dalits, Muslims, and other minorities. What oppressed citizens in India have to do if India becomes the USA unless their basic right to life is not respected?
Author – Mangesh Dahiwale, Human Rights Activist