From: Vaidyanathan R
Why Anna’s middle class has disdain for Parliament
The poorer sections are more with Anna since he understands their hurt and loss and frozen anger at the government’s minions and their daily dacoity at their expense.PTI
By R Vaidyanathan
The tripod constructed by Jawaharlal Nehru consisted of socialism, secularism and parliamentary supremacy.
The socialism part went with Narasimha Rao, even though the word is still in our constitution, which declares us to be a socialist republic. Every elected representative is forced to swear by it, exposing us to total hypocrisy in running our polity.
The day the law was amended to deny alimony to Shah Bano, the edifice of secularism, too, developed a crack. In a society which considers everything, including trees and animals, sacred, the notion of “secularism” was anyway a bit stretched. It came down fully with the Ayodhya agitation. However, our constitution includes secularism in its preface. The word was inserted into the constitution during the emergency, and was not a part of the original statute.
The third leg of the Nehruvian tripod, the primacy of Parliament in making laws, was treated with an enormous amount of respect, even reverence. Members of state assemblies and Parliament were called law-makers even though a good number among them do not know what kind of laws they make. The disconnect between our burgeoning middle classes and the so-called law-makers has been widening in leaps and bounds in recent decades.
A great fault line has been developing for a while, and this hasn’t been noticed by blind political experts. Today there is a huge trust deficit with the political class. In the early sixties, during the conflict with China, this author has seen women giving away their gold ornaments when leaders went around in jeeps to collect money for defence. Today, women will probably run inside their homes if they see a jeep with politicians asking for donations.
The Nehruvian middle class was essentially a public sector one: they tended to work in government, or in companies owned by government: HMT, Bhel, LIC, State Bank of India. Every engineer and accountant in the 1950s and 1960s aspired to work for these companies, and prepared massively for the stiff entrance tests.
The public sector middle class of those decades was often aligned with Left unions. They sought the creation of more government entities and agitated for enhanced pay. They waved flags when Indira Gandhi nationalised banks. The middle classes shouted Inquilab Zindabad in processions those days. Bengal led this class, and so did Kerala.
This middle class influenced and infiltrated all aspects of Indian life, including the arts, cinema, literature, books and history. They selected their “intellectuals” and “academic leaders”. The government was criticised, but only for being less leftist. They captured the Planning Commissions and hundreds of other academies. They were essentially government-subsidised revolutionaries. The pinnacle of their achievement was the creation of the Jawaharlal Nehru University – appropriately named – where “lal salaam” and “inquilab” could be paraded as serious academic research in social sciences.