Saturday, May 16, 2009

Outward ho!

If there ever was a time to resurrect a counterfactual, it is now. A classic 'What if?' scenario. If the election results were reversed what would the seculars do? Abandon ship, or build a new one but chart the same course? In their world that transforms to more of the same articles, but let's not digress. There were not so subtle murmurs after the splendid press conference of the crown prince suggesting, if not seeking, change of the ship captain-to-be. Of course, the minders have deftly performed another backflip, with a self-congratulatory I-told-you-so hitched with the message. This is along expected lines. Gratuitous advisories, sneering triumphalism etc., too, are only to be expected. That's part of the game. Worse, in the form of actual policy decisions, is yet to follow. After the votebank's good behavior, payback time is upon us.

But, this is no moment to simply close ranks and turn inward. The same people who certified the arrival of coalition era, will proclaim its systemic burial. And therein lies the opportunity. A tremendous one. Whenever the balance asserts itself, after the excesses that are inevitably to follow and the fatigue sets in, a tremendous void will be felt. There will be a longing for alternative. If there's a national consensus, there ought to be a nationalist alternative. And that's when the present opposition can step in. Whoever desires it, will have to work towards it. The split politics of coalition was too good to be true to last for long. But the change demands some long hard slog. Building intellectual avant-garde and institution building is a key to this fight. India cannot walk into the 21st century based on the pop-psychology of Amar Akbar Anthony variety. Ersatz Americana is incapable of handling the rigors of self-esteem and self-pride, essential for a confident charge into the brave new world staring upon us with the advent of China. This is not it. It's a blip.

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