That a country can move from the middle rungs to the top table of the global scene was demonstrated by the United Kingdom during the long years of the first Queen Elizabeth. It was during this time that the empire was substantially built up and the country and people (lightly and gently) ruled by the Virgin Queen rose to superpower status. Nostalgia for those days has driven several filmmakers to produce movies with Elizabethan themes, including some that are not history but romantic fiction, such as Shakespeare in Love. There is a scene where an officious servant of the Court liberally uses the phrase “In the name of the Queen” to arrest some actors in a drama where a youthful Bard of Avon is himself an actor. Suddenly a regal presence stands up from within the audience, Queen Elizabeth herself. She berates not the officials but the overzealous servant of herself. “Have a care with my name, lest you wear it out”, she says, dismissing efforts at punishing the actors for what she regarded as a good performance, and that in the capacity of a member of the audience. In much the same way as during Elizabethan England, the world’s greatest democracy is also on an upward trajectory. Not towards securing colonies, but in winning friends and influencing the world through word and deed. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi signifies, India needs to be the Viswa Guru of the world. The country needs to not just walk on the Middle Path of moderation and freedom but by example, inspire others to do the same. The Prime Minister called for Minimum Government Maximum Governance, and in this, he is pointing to the need of the present. This is to ensure that a climate be created which is freed for the fear and uncertainty bred by the excessive powers left behind by the colonial power in 1947. Rather than being thrown into the trashcan and replaced with constructs suited to a free people as they ought to have been, over the years several new laws have been added. Each of these places more restrictions and imposes stiffer punishments for offenses that are usually trivial or made up by those searching for getting a bribe from the target. Laws and regulations get made and implemented as through 100% of the bureaucracy is both efficient and honest. As though 100% of those manning the official machinery are motivated by a spirit of public service before considerations of self. It is heart-warming that the majority of officials are indeed in this category, but the small minority that are not can and do create havoc. It is such havoc that has kept India in its status as a country with low indices of betterment relative to its potential
The 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha election results have made it clear that the people of India look to Narendra Damodardas Modi to effect the transformation needed for the potential of India to be actualised. Unless this gets done and soon, the tens of millions of youths entering the job market every year will be at risk of falling prey to wrong influences. It must be remembered that there are countries nearby that seek to push India not just into a low growth trajectory through acts of sabotage and violence. They seek to reduce the society in India into chaos through pitting Indian against Indian on the grounds of region, faith, lifestyle and other characteristics. The fact is that the people of India are united by a common desire to see the country become prosperous and modern. United in their common desire to reject the Two Nation theory that was used by Winston Churchill and his stooges to divide the subcontinent in 1947. The First Amendment to the Constitution of the US was to protect freedom of speech. That in India, inspired by Prime Minister Nehru, was to place limits on it. It was known that Nehru was particularly annoyed by Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee’s pointed remarks on Pakistan, and regarded not the fallacious thinking of appeasers in the government but Dr Mukherjee’s (soon vindicated) words as the reason why the leaders of Pakistan were not responding to his own calls for peace. Nehru forgot that M.A. Jinnah similarly failed to respond to Mahatma Gandhi’s offer for an honourable partnership, even to the extent of accepting him as Prime Minister of a united India. Indeed, the Muslim League was brought into the pre-1947 Nehru Cabinet as a gesture of trust, only to wreck the coalition from within. The point is that differences of opinion will only strengthen the democratic fabric of India and not weaken them. Arrests and prosecutions have the result of damaging if not destroying human lives, and hence should be used only in the rarest of rare cases. To have cases of sedition filed almost on a daily basis is to reduce the perception of the offence in the public mind to a level that makes genuine cases of sedition harder to recognize. Sedition is a nuclear weapon and should be used only in cases where the evidence is overwhelming that activity by a group or individual is having a serious effect on national integrity and security. The Prime Minister has made welcome changes in the plethora of laws that are susceptible to misuse by even a small handful of corrupt officials out of a pool of honest individuals. Economic activity does not flourish under the barrel of the threat of arrest. Neither can sedition be quelled unless the law is used much more sparingly. Home Minister Amit Shah can be counted on to carry out the wishes of the Prime Minister, who needs to ensure that the nuclear button of the laws on sedition does not get pulled unless absolutely necessary.