Refinements or Reforms or Revolution


(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)

Mankind is engulfed by innumerable challenges; exciting days are ahead; and India is no exception.

Cumulative wisdom of mankind’s history is simple. Those nations will survive, consolidate and advance who pro-actively identify and implement appropriate policies and plans effectively in all fields. Those nations who adopt status quo or an “Ostrich” like posture are bound to fail and collapse.

How to manage change is most difficult what with contending forces in conflict with each other over fair and just distribution of power, status and wealth.
All nations face real dilemma to manage change. After all, the environment is highly complex and dynamic. For survival, consolidation and advancement, there is no alternative but to manage change effectively in time.

Every system has a life span. With passage of time, every system develops distortions. When distortions are not squarely addressed in time and space, they become highly vulnerable to escalation and proliferation of crises and conflicts.

There are three options available to manage change: refinements or reforms or revolution. A ‘living system’ must continue to make appropriate and timely changes with utmost expedition. Lack of political will breed senility which will only contribute it to collapse.

During early stages of distortions in the system, refinements may be the preferred option and adequate to adroitly manage challenges.
If refinements too are not timely and appropriate, mostly knee-jerk, reactive and episodic, its cumulative fallout will necessitate appropriate reforms in all fields at a later date.

Even then, reforms must comprehensively and conjointly be addressed. Otherwise, they too may contribute to the surge of crises and conflicts.

For example, political reforms sans economic reforms may only partially address crisis in a system. Extending it beyond, political reforms sans economic and social reforms may not also contain crises proliferation.

During the ongoing technology age, reforms must simultaneously cover all fields: political, social, economic, technology and security forces fields.
Revolutions –both peaceful and violent – are inevitable when reforms and refinements are delayed due to procrastination and prevarication of governments.

Once revolutions by people escalate, it is not easy to contain them. The results of revolutions can be extraordinarily damaging, divisive and disastrous. The solace, however, is that destruction on account of revolutions may ultimately pave the way for a new dispensation that may or may not rise to the aspirations of majority of people.

China is the best example of successful management of change in today’s global environment. Zhou Enlai formulated the policy of “Four Modernizations” in 1963. To the credit for implementing it goes to Deng Xiaoping starting in 1978 covering four fields – agriculture, industry, national defense and Science and Technology.

Successive Presidents in China have consolidated the process of modernizations in all fields with total commitment. If today China stands tall in the comity of nations, the credit should go squarely to its leadership guidance in all fields and their resoluteness to “walk the talk”.

In contrast, where does India stand after 70 years of independence? Both China and India power status was the same until mid 1970s. However, China has outpaced India by nearly four times in power acquisition in all fields.
Lack of political will and consensus over every single issue are the root cause for India’s dismal performance.

No political reforms except creation of “Panchayat Raj” sans delegation of powers. No social reforms like Uniform Civil Code etc. Economic reforms first initiated in early 1990s; but got stalled later. Status quo ante in national defense and least military modernization; and so also, tardy S & T reforms.

“One step forward; two steps backward” is the course on which India is traversing. Lack of political will is real with the exception of Modi led NDA government today. But, political consensus defies even Modi for it would only enhance his image at the cost of the decline of opposition parties.

Viewed in the above environmental framework, peoples hope rests on an “Avatar” to bale them out of bleak prospects. They have given “Modi” the mandate to provide a significant breakthrough. Can “Modi” deliver on people’s expectations given the acrimonious and rebellious nature of politics played out by opposition parties? It remains a million dollar question to answer.