The Indian Constitution, 1950 following the British model, created a system of parliamentary democracy.
Upto 1947, when India became independent, it was still a largely feudal, agricultural country. The British policy was to keep us largely unindustrialized, since an industrial India, with its cheap labour, could become a powerful rival to British industry.
The Indian Constitution was based on Western models. We borrowed parliamentary democracy and an independent judiciary from England, federalism and the fundamental rights from the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution, the Directive Principles of State Policy from the Irish Constitution, etc. Thus we borrowed a modern Constitution from Western models, and transplanted it from above on our largely backward, feudal society.
Democracy is a feature of an industrial, not feudal, society. But the intention of our Founding Fathers (Pandit Nehru and his colleagues) was that democracy and other modern principles e.g. freedom of speech, freedom of religion, liberty, equality etc. and modern institutions e.g. Parliament, independent judiciary, etc would pull our backward, feudal society into the modern age. They set up a heavy industrial base (which the British had prohibited), and consequently India became partially industrialized and made some progress since 1947 e.g. we produced a large pool of engineers, technicians, scientists, doctors etc., women got education, etc.
However, mid way after 1947 our democracy was hijacked by the feudals, and caste and religious vote banks, which could be craftily manipulated by many of our politicians to serve their selfish ends, emerged and became the normal feature in elections and other activities in most parts of India. Everyone knows that in most parts of India people vote on caste and religious lines, instead of seeing the merits of the candidate. It is for this reason that many persons with criminal background have often been elected. Democracy was never meant to be run in this manner, and this has blocked our progress. Hence fundamental social and political changes are now required.
The unfortunate truth is that most of our people are still intellectually very backward, full of casteism, communalism and superstitions. ‘Honour’ killing, dowry deaths, female foeticide, etc are prevalent in large parts of India. Child malnutrition at 48% is far higher than in the poorest sub Saharan countries of Africa such as Somalia and Ethiopia. The Arjun Sengupta Report states that 77% Indians live on less than Rs. 25 per day. A. U.N. Report estimated that 2.1 million Indian children die before reaching the age of 5 years, that is, 4 every minute.
In recent decades India has witnessed the greatest agricultural crisis in world history (see articles by P. Sainath). Millions of farmers have left their villages (because they lost their livelihoods for a variety of reasons) and migrated to cities in search of jobs which were not there. Hence they ended up as domestic servants, street hawkers, beggars, criminals or prostitutes (it is estimated there are some 20 million prostitutes in India). 2,50,000 farmers in Vidarbha and other areas committed suicide in the last 15 years, an average of 47 per day (which is still continuing).
Unemployment is massive in India, even postgraduates seeking a peon’s job. Healthcare for the masses is abysmal, the 80% poor people in India can hardly afford doctors or medicines, and hence they resort to quacks. Education is in shambles.
Our national aim must be to make India a modern, powerful, secular, highly industrialized country, in which all its people (and not just a handful, as is the case today) get decent lives, and the great social evils like poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, skyrocketing prices, lack of healthcare and good education, etc which are widespread today in India are abolished forever, and our people are rid of backward and feudal ideas like casteism, communalism and superstitions, which are replaced by modern scientific and rational thinking. How is this to be achieved? To my mind this can be achieved by the struggles of the people using their creativity.
All patriotic people in India must strive for this goal, and join in this great historical task, which will no doubt call for great sacrifices, and will probably require a long, painful and sustained struggle for about 20 years or so, but if we do not do this we will be cursed by our descendants for having betrayed the nation.