Bhikhu Parekh has outlined the way forward for India in the globalised world ("Defining India's identity: an alternative vision," Nov. 20). It does not lie in competing with China for 10 per cent GDP growth or becoming a nuclear state; it is to do with becoming a true champion of the underprivileged. But our leaders and intellectuals have already determined to adopt the identity decided for us by others. Let us not beg for superpower status; let us give an alternative to the world.
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Permit me to thank The Hindu and Lord Parekh for drawing attention to the loss of direction in the Indian polity. The lack of respect for egalitarian values and revulsion for vulgar display of wealth has led to aggrandisement and pursuit of superpower status. We have forgotten that love for the country implies concern for the welfare of the people, and actions that promote everyone's happiness. The resistance of vested interests to justice and affirmative action, and bitter opposition of the better-off States to special assistance to backward States by the Finance Commission are but two instances of the general tendency of turning away from the ethical underpinnings of the fight for freedom.
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As long as hungry, naked children beg in the shadows of giant glass-and-concrete structures housing multinationals, poor backward villagers get hacked to death and the state and the media are disinterested witnesses, and people's legitimate protests fearing displacement and loss of livelihood are brutally silenced, India's dream of becoming an economic and military superpower will remain a joke fashioned by the rich and powerful.
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India cannot shine as long as even one Indian remains hungry or poor. Elimination of poverty and hunger was the prime objective of Gandhiji and Nehru, and we should strive to achieve it.
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The article is a must read for every Indian. As the first step in the right direction, the intelligentsia must educate the underprivileged, in keeping with Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's exhortation to "educate, organise, agitate."
Educational institutions and the civil service should give due importance to the attitude of applicants rather than going blindly by merit, to create socially conscious citizens. This can mark the beginning of the process of pulling ourselves out of the vicious circle of trying to become another imperialistic superpower.
P. Mani Kumar,
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Nehruvian ideals were excellent but to what extent did they help our economic, social, and foreign policy? Nehru was ahead of his time, an idealist. Several sections of India, including some in the Congress, let the great man down, leave alone China, Pakistan, the U.K., and the U.S., which found India's constant idealistic postures unmatched by performance baffling and easy to dismiss. From Nehru's India many intellectuals and professionals migrated, never to return. But since the 1990s, India has been following what Rajaji's Swatantra Party recommended in the 1960s spurned at that time as a capitalist prescription. Now some NRIs are returning. People voted with their feet out of Nehru's India. Can that be hidden in good essays?
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India, I believe, isn't aspiring to be a military superpower but it hopes to be an economic power, which it should to give the necessary comfort to its millions. The village-centred economy of Gandhian vision, though idealistic, will fail to deliver. The Nehruvian vision of a mixed economy is still relevant with more space for people's participation through enlargement of the private sector. India won't be heard if its symbol is the begging bowl.