Misadjustments of a Rapid Economy
The last decade of the Twentieth century has seen India emerge as a major player in the World economy. Transition in World perception of India, from being an under-developed to an emerging economic superpower has taken just two decades. And, in this lies India's challenge.
A country which undergoes sudden economic propulsion is sometimes underprepared for the increased cultural exchange that comes with opening up to the World. Cultural acceptance is a slow & gradual process with no guaranteed total acceptance.
The recent spate of incidents in Mangalore & the aftermath are testimony to this societal confusion. I will not again elaborate on the brutality of those attacks since quite a bit has been written & commented on this forum itself. I am hoping however to reflect upon the inexplicable reactions it has invoked from Political parties.
With the recent history of Karnataka's fragile coalition Governments & the Lok Sabha elections being around the corner, one would have expected a scathing attack from rival parties on the State's inaction. This would have been an issue that the Opposition could have effectively capitalised on to wreck the pro-development image the ruling party has sculpted. Surprisingly, none from the State Opposition, the regional Congress nor the JD(S), have launched an all out offensive. This is a clear reflection that these political parties may not agree with the Ram Sena offensive but are confused on agreement on the now famous "Pub Culture" phrase. So what is it that is holding the Opposition back?
Political ideology is but a mere reflection of Public sentiment. In some cases this strikes a chord with the Public, in some it doesn't. So, it is imperative for a Political party forseeing a General election, not to strike a dischord when Public opinion itself is divided. So, for once probably with a pragmatic view the Political class is not entirely at fault.
This is where the complexity of the rapid Economic development & the attached Cultural exposure surfaces. Increased salaries to not just the elite but all sections of the society has been one of the success stories of India. And with this comes increased consumerism, be it branded clothing, expensive cars or a dry martini. While this is normal for the liberal, deep pocketed youth; the relatively orthodox parent will seldom understand this exposure. Though pubs have existed for a long time in cities like Bangalore, it was more or less a playground of the elite. The foray of lower sections calls for rapid Cultural adjustments starting at individual homes. Unfortunately, Cultural adjustment cannot be as rapid as Economic development.
Difference of opinion will always exist during Cultural evolution. However, it is the responsibility of the State to see to it that imposition of opinion from either side is codemned. In a democracy, one can ony educate the Public on a given issue, the decision still rests with the Public. Hooliganistic approaches, Regulatory Policies will only further widen the divide. Being an optimist, I hope this Cultural Evoulution happens albeit not at the pace at which we want it to.