The simmering neighbourhood

Sri Lanka is deep into crisis, so is Pakistan. There is a war in Ukraine and India is faced with its own set of problems
The simmering neighbourhood
"Their policies have to be now people oriented, not politics of revenge. It may open vulnerable lines and make Pakistan unstable. That will have its ramification on this side also."Special arrangement

We are in troubled times. Russian invasion is unending, like a tribal war, a war unto finish. It has international consequences and the brunt is also felt in the region as well.

Pakistan’s democracy is on trial. Imran Khan is on the confrontationist path. He is unable to reconcile with the loss of power at Centre and in Punjab.

He has built a powerful narrative of anti Americanism - of conspiracy theory. It is finding flowing purchase with people.

His appeal is magnetic and his rallies pull mammoth crowds. The timing of his ouster has led opposition and establishment defensive. His Letter Gate stance and then blaming institutions, including judiciary go well with the people.

Does it mean that Imran’s political trajectory is on the similar track, as it was of late Prime Minister Bhutto? The foreign funding case is in the court and the dates over dates are now coming to close.

Imran Khan’s narrative is articulate in drawing the chronology of transfer of power that matches his conspiracy theory. The nonresident Pakistanis and a significant chunk of retired officers and youth blame the neutral empire for succumbing to such political engineering at a wrong juncture of history.

Their grumble is that power has gone back to same opposition ruled by the experimented families and tainted tested politicians. Transition, they were in favor, but not this way. The re-empowerment of same lot of opposition parties that PTI had thought would be in prisons have brought further disillusionments in youth. It is a mercurial politics in Pakistan.

Army is not of 1970s that would be interested in regaining power. General Bajwa has announced that he would not be taking future extensions. The army knows the country is passing through difficult financial conditions. The security concerns in Waziristan and Baluchistan are at alarming note and aggression over Punjabi elitism is on the rise.

There are emerging pockets of discontentment with the state and power elites. The biggest challenge for the present PDM is how to have national unity governance. People need relief and states need distributive justice.

Their policies have to be now people oriented, not politics of revenge. It may open vulnerable lines and make Pakistan unstable. That will have its ramification on this side also.

Sri Lanka is financially struggling and its survival has become problematic. The new economic zone policy, mismanagement of governance and COVID 19 closure of the country appear to be the emergent causes. Its main resource base is tourism and remittances from overseas. It had come near to zilch during past two years.

The “Twin deficits signal, which is that a country’s national expenditure exceeds its national income, and that its production of tradable goods and services remain inadequate.”

Essentially mis-governance and deepening economic crisis has made serious dent to the stable social structures of the society. Its sane leadership ruling or in opposition have to come to consensus on foreign loans, international obligations and internal control.

India has a strong social resilience and its political foundations are well founded. Despite caste and religiosity concerns posing peril, its pluralism, diversity and institutional middle class find way to overcome these growing vulnerabilities, when faced beyond a point. This does not mean that its steadiness should be taken for granted.

The rumbling fissures of communalism, maddening violence by fringe elements in day to day happenings, mounting unemployment and costlier life chances, then irksome noisy discourses on polarising and contesting television talk shows do not augur well for the health of the nation.

In a country where most of the people are poor, surviving on daily wages and state sponsored measures, should they not need respite from maneuvered violence? People have gas cylinders, but poor are unable to buy the gas.

The free ration, if not continued, the hunger would consume our children to make them prey to the forces of polarisation. Though Indian democracy and its federal strength has matured, yet the picture reveals that political landscape on margins and peripheral states is different that the central Hindi land.

Less religiosity discourses on media and better plans of development and strengthening of social and academic institutions with empowerment of regenerative politics are the need of hour that political elites should emphasise to its party cadres.

Communal, caste and regional politics just for power retention ultimately are suicidal strategies. The history of yester-years tacitly warns us that politics in matured democratic country, like India, needs regenerative politics, solution for the problems and expansion of public sphere of civil spaces, rather than playing with the passions of raw minds.

What a shame it is to witness the maddening frenzy in the capital city. The teenagers of both the communities are thrown in the passion of ritualised religiosity. This is anti pluralism, negating the organic evolution of Indian society’s natural course. This could have been easily avoided.

These are the spaces which are non place spheres, sacred for all. Diving people and polarizing them on religious lines are not sustainable. In the past it has done more harm and our myopic political elites easily encourage it.

Indian social fabric is knitted by its reformers and the heroes of the National Movement in an organic evolution with blending spaces. Its tearing apart would only create fissures that would go beyond the control of the state agencies and institutions. Pakistan has moved on that path and do Indian power elite want to go on the same primordial path?

Thomas Pickett’s prized contributions on troubled times depress us more than showing any ray of hope. His contention that democracies are not interested in solving the problems should not be in actuality! The gap between rich and poor is on an alarming rise. Digital world is beyond national boundaries. It is where the individuals and groups of youth are unable to draw its boundaries.

We have warring bells that nascent nationalism can sustain only if youth are channelized properly and leaders think like states-persons. The inherent power politics in democratic set up negates its capabilities of problem solving.

Living in imagined nationalisms, they desire to avail the opportunity market, use fraternal networks, and have notional idealism to chanalise creative energies into legitimate entrepreneurial activities.

However, if youth does not find work meaningful and are confused with its symbolic meaning, it becomes readymade instrument of circular movement that is run by neoliberal discourse and religiosity promised communications.

Since democracy thrives on leadership quality, it is time to nurture leadership on nation building discourse that takes multitudes within the framework of pluralism. India has this advantage that other countries do not have.

The leadership is most important in giving direction, providing reliable communication and open forum for suggestions and corrections. It needs to be taken in a continuous dialogic process, where youth can empower itself in a free fair political atmosphere and social landscape.

The leaders can also learn to correct their fault lines that they have imagined to be right.

The author is an Emeritus professor in sociology at Banaras Hindu university

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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