UTOPIA -- A reality or a myth --
“Looking at the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower,
Holding infinity in palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.
Everything that ever came to reality was once just an imagination.” -- (The Dangerous Knowledge, a documentary film)
What is utopia? Well, in common parlance ‘a welfare state with socio-economic-political perfection, equality and well-being’. However this short hand definition of this word itself puts a doubt over its existence in the real world.
Utopia has often been staged in synonym with an egalitarian society. However this word ‘utopia’ has different meaning for different political strategists and legal scientists, as for example- for Plato it means republic, for Abraham Lincoln it means democracy, for Karl Marx and Linen it means a socialist society and for few others it means technological optimism.
An attempt has being made in this paper to study this term ‘utopia’ from an Indian point of view. If above Para is to be studied in strict sense of the term, we shall very well say that India is an Utopia – never the less because the preamble of Indian Constitution declares India as a secular, socialist, democratic-republic, more-so-over Part XIII of this fundamental ‘law of the land’ talks about ‘freedom of trade, commerce and intercourse’, the new economic policy of 1991 opened the gates of so called development in India, by virtue of which privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation freely flowed into the Indian economy with an aim of granting India technological optimism.
In regards to the above rendered knowledge India should be a ‘utopia’.
However the Indian noble laureate, Dr. Amartaya Sen in his book, ‘The Argumentative Indian’, highlights the fact that- there is a difference between real utopia and pseudo utopia. So far as India is concerned- a sense of utopianism rests only on paper not in practicality with existence of such widespread poverty, un-employment, casteism, communalism, linguism and regionalism of all sorts. The book claims that India can grow potentially to become superpower by 2050, provided the growth India is achieving and is targeting is supported by communal harmony, socio-economic justice, fair political interplay and absence of corruption of all sorts, and then in some sense of the term India shall be in position to call itself a visionary nation. A nation that envisions itself to become a utopia one day. But the demands so put forth are more than challenging, practically impossible.
Dr. Amartaya Sen goes on record to statistically prove that India has many reasons to cheer, despite its saddening socio-economic realities. The reasons being, India is 7th largest nation in the world, 6th nation to equip itself with nuclear facilities and faculties, India being one of the only three nations to be able to produce super-computers indigenously (after Japan and the U.S.) , what less to say it’s the 2nd most fastest growing economy in the world after China.
Indian economy is an agrarian economy and despite massive urbanisation, spirit of India continues to live and foster in the rural India. Green Revolution and White Revolution till date are examples that have kept many economic strategist surprised and evolved.
Can India grow agriculturally and technologically at the same time? Is the question to be answered. With large scale farmer suicides throughout the country in wake of India stilling calling itself ‘a developing country’ seems callous on one hand, position as to technological & industrial development remains pity on the other hand with Chinese products flooding Indian markets like never before.
Terrorism and insurgency problems on one hand have cut short India’s dream of calling itself ‘a developed nation’ and on the other hand large scale corruption has paralysed India’s future.
On one hand, people in India are losing their faith in democracy with decrease in number of voter response in wake of elections and on the other hand statutes such as the AFSPA have attracted negative response from people, calling it un-constitutional and anti-national in some sense of the term.
India has been ranked as lowly as 119th in the latest HDI (Human Development Index) report for the year 2011 on one hand, and as per reports of WHO(World Health Organisation), 2011 about 9,00,000 Indians die each year by consuming water unsafe for drinking on the other hand.
Despite achieving almost 93% literacy in state of Kerala, about 62% people in India are still illiterate. Despite achieving 100% electrification in state of Haryana still about 300 million Indians have no access to electricity reports the Wall Street Journal (dated 2nd January, 2012).
Indian railways on one hand is considered as the world’s largest employer but at the same time more than 10% is the unemployment rate in India so far as present scenario is concerned.
There seems no point in endlessly quoting figures and facts as a dichotomy exists in every scenario so far as current situation in India is concerned.
Looking at the gloomy side, Justice Krishna Iyer, quotes in his book ‘Off the Bench’ the following quote:
‘With widespread poverty, un-employment, inequality of income and purchasing power of rupee falling, it seems to me unjust that Indian political leaders are so fascinated in investing so much money in arms, ammunitions and weaponry, although I agree that ‘strength respects strength’ and threats of terrorism are ever growing but situation becomes miserable when there are guided missiles in hands of misguided people.’
Utopia – A Constitutional Dream:
If the case, namely ‘Keshavanand Bharti v. State of Kerala’, is to be talked in nutshell, the synopsis of the case is that ‘the preamble of the Indian Constitution’ is the basic structure of the constitution of India, which under no circumstance can be amended.
Constitution of India is the most fundamental piece of legislation—it is the law of the land. All other statutes derive their existence from the constitution; no legislation can be in abrogation of or against the spirit of the constitution. This is so because in some sense of the term the constitution represents ‘the will’ of the people of India, that is, the sovereignty of India rests in the people of the country. India is sovereign, i.e. it is the supreme excellence, it is free from foreign dominion and people of India are the architects of their own destiny and that of the country. This same spirit is reflected in the opening words of the preamble i.e. ‘We the people of India’. To range it further closely, in India the government is of the people, for the people and by the people, India hence is a democratic republic i.e. people’s rule coupled with a well framed & written constitution.
However a low voter turnout on the election days makes India in some sense of the term a pseudo-democratic country. Rights lose their existence by virtue of their non-implementation. Vote bank politics can be regarded as one of the prime reason for low voter turnout.
Secondly, preamble of the Indian Constitution declares it to be a Socialist country. If words of Marx are to be believed ‘Democracy is the road to socialism’.
Socialism is a system in which property and wealth are shared equally, what is talked about here is community of interest and common ownership. But in practicality ‘I am a man and anything that concerns mankind, concerns me’ is fast fading away.
The virtue of socialism so far as constitution of India is concerned comes from the famous Russian revolution.
Thirdly, secularism, the preamble of the constitution declares India to be a secular nation and so far as fundamental rights enshrined in part III of the constitution are concerned, every citizen of India has a right to propagate and practice religion of his choice in a peaceful and comprehensive manner. Religious tolerism is the premise onto which a welfare state finds its foundation.
Incidents such as 1984 Sikh riots and 2002 Godhra riots prove India’s slackness in this very aspect. Martin Luther King used to say that, ‘a riot is nothing but the voice of the un-heard’, same shall not hold true in Indian context.
Fourthly, equality, equality has been talked about in the constitution in two forms:
1. Equality before law and equal protection of law.
2. Equality of opportunity and status.
Balanced regional development in India over the past has become a dream. The divide between the rich and the poor is becoming ever-growing. Corruption is rampant. Solution to this seems to be in progressive taxation policy, but nothing can be done against the evasion of taxes. Law when is flexed and is moulded against its very own purpose, tyranny prevails—this is what we have to say about Indian tax laws.
So far as equality before law and equal protection of law is concerned, right to speedy trail is just a dream but we still have hope and faith in Indian judicial system although it suffers from docket explosion. Bank of justice is never bankrupt this is what we can say in wake of judicial activism in India.
Fifthly, justice- social, economic and political. How can this be achieved? Through well framed laws. Two things need to be said in this regard:
1. Laws are the means and justice is the end. Well framed laws ensure justice is true sense; equal emphasis is to be placed on their applicability also.
2. Unjust laws are nothing but species of violence and arrest for their non-compliance more so—Mahatma Gandhi. You revolt against an unjust law or you propagate one; there is no other way.
Sixthly, liberty, article 19 of the constitution of India talks of basic freedom i.e. freedom of speech and expression, to form unions and associations, to practise profession of one’s own choice, to reside anywhere in India as per one’s own will, to move freely in public places anywhere within the territory of India.
But certainly there are certain qualifications to this freedom, but point to be emphasised over here is the role of media. Media sensationalization under the garb of article 19 is unconstitutional. Media in India still has to regularise itself says Justice Markandey Katju, the present Press Council of India. As he points out that there is more to be achieved by media than mere TRPs, let there not be situations as observed by Roman emperors who said, ‘If you cannot serve your people with bread, serve them circuses’. There is no deny that it was media activism that made the ends meet in the Jessica Lal murder case for justice to prevail but equally there is no denial in the havoc media created during the Sarojani Nagar bomb blasts in 2005, where by various news channels verified different sets of news to woo the people, to showcase how quick they are in reporting to their viewers, some channels said, there was a single bomb blast, some said 2 and the others said 3. Also during the Mumbai Taj Hotel attack (26th Nov. 2008) the media was criticised in large length because the news clippings’ aired on national television was in fact used by the terrorist to know how the police and military forces were trying to break into the hotel to give shape to successful rescue operation. Media activism has greater role to play not only to ensure that the citizens of the country remain well acquaint to all affairs throughout the country but also to corner down corruption and mal-practises in government department. We are not from the government but the government is from us; this message needs to be imprinted in minds of all citizens.
Seventhly, fraternity, preamble talks of this aspect in fine length and the same is enshrined in the spirit of the Indian Constitution in more than many ways. Fraternity means mutual brotherhood, all united together in name of the country, for the country. United we stand, divided we fall. Let national integration be no more a dream but a reality. May it may not be right to say with all the little experience and knowledge I have, but I strongly feel that ‘religion’ has done more harm to the country than good.
Finally, in best of brevity I conclude the constitutional dream of utopia. There is no reason to deny that if India achieves the sacred virtues of secularism, socialism, people sovereignty, democracy, and republic, equality of opportunity and status, social-economic-political justice, liberty of speech-thought-expression, fraternity and national integration, India shall be a utopia one day. Constitution of India reflects the great dreams, desires and aspirations of its freedom fighters and as the adage goes; great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended. Let’s not lose hope in light of following observations:
1. India is the second largest country in the world in terms of population with more than 1.2 billion people; this population explosion can be seen as availability of best of human resource. India in the world in not known so much so for its technology and natural resources availabity than for its skilled, semi-skilled and un-skilled labour availability. We must bank upon this opportunity rather than criticise the present situation. Argument in regards that we have more dependent population than working population appears to me a myth because statistics show that average age of population in India is 25.1 years.
2. Criminalization of politics is something that needs to be checked; otherwise India is well equipped to take care of terrorism and insurgency problems as: India has 3rd largest standing army in the world, 4th largest navy and 5th largest air force.
3. May India be called the world diabetes capital or country with highest HIV/AIDS cases but we still are struggling to revolutionise the trend, as for example polio was one of the biggest health hazards India had been facing in the past but same is now on verge of its end, we are about to witness a polio free nation in a year or so, same had been the case with plague & small pox, hence we need to remain positive on this aspect. Less to forget, by volume of pills produced, the Indian pharmaceutical industry is world's second largest after China.
4. Illiteracy is rampant in India, no doubt about it but efforts are been made to give far reaching results. Right to education as enshrined in Article 21-A of the Indian Constitution has been recognised as a fundamental right available to every citizen. Hence, with such awakening we can expect fruitful and long lasting results.
5. Unemployment is another issue for which India has been criticised off and on, but less to say MGNREGA is the most luminous project any country has ever taken in the world. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 envisions a un-employment free nation, with an annual outlay to this project of about 18,000 Crore Rupees.
6. Poverty is a curse and in this sense of the term India is cursed. Poverty free nation as for now, for India is just a dream that may not meet reality but efforts are been made. Right to Food Bill is still pending in parliament, seeking its approval. Fingers crossed.
7. Corruption is the problem that has impaired the growth and development of India forever, but nothing can withstand the will of people even if it is corruption; the story of Anna Hazare and the Right to Information Act,2005 is something that will be admired and cherished for years to come.
8. Female criminality and victimity has been rampant in India, right from days of sati pratha to pardha system to preference to a male child, Indian society has been male dominated, but no longer the scenario is the same, gender bias is on decline with effective implementation of provisions as to welfare legislation i.e. equal pay for equal work, the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and enactment of sec.498-A and 304-B of IPC and sec.113-B of the Evidence Act.
9. Strong and effective laws ensure progressive society, when the laws so enacted are followed or are backed by the will of the people, subjecting people to equity and morality in purest form. But problem Indian courts today are facing is docket explosion, but same has not refrained rule of law to prevail in India, what I am at present talking about is the concept of ‘mobile courts’, first of its kind, it refers not to any telecom revolution but to the concept of courts on vehicles. If victims hesitate to approach the court, then court shall approach them to curb any exploitation they tend to face. This system of court proceeding had been launched in Mewat district of Haryana and it is proving to be successful.
10. Technologically India is advancing each passing day, few facts in this regard as mentioned in the yearly issue of the Economic Times,2012 are as follows:
a. India is the only country to have been able to produce super-computers indigenously after Japan and the U.S. India is world’s biggest emerging mobile and auto-mobile market.
b. Maruti Alto has been the most looked after and the most sold car for the year 2011 on a worldwide basis.
c. Tata Nano is regarded as world’s cheapest car in production.
With the following points I feel positive that India is developing at its own pace and is not merely growing at draconian speed giving no consideration to socio-political norms, growing for the sake of growing is the characteristic of a cancerous cell, we in India are aiming towards sustainable economic development, even if not in practicality then let alone be it on pen & paper but at least things have started moving, started changing, in positive direction, with positive pace and with positive attitude & outlook.
‘’When sky turns dusky,
And earth turns dry,
Men eat men,
In hue and cry.
When sword turns rusty,
And limbs go lame,
Either you surrender,
Or die in shame.
Where faith jitters,
And honesty kills,
Fear takes over,
To the kingdom of evil.
Honest shall rise,
For evil to end.
Heroes are born,
To ignite the heaven.’’
Even if horrors of past are deep rooted and present seems jerky we cannot afford to lose as we are answerable to all are freedom fighters how bought us freedom by pledging their lives.
Do or die is a thing of past, to do before we die is something we have to focus on.
Let the revolution begin, utopia is not a far off dream.
*Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions expressed are reflection of author’s view on the particular subject that is subject to review in light of apt arguments. Efforts have been made to zero down all personal biasness. All criticism in all forms is most welcome. Author cherishes your prestigious reading. Regards: Shivam Goel.
The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org