27 July, 2021

Our Accursed Cassandras

Why India seals its ears to the warning bells at its own peril

illustration by Sorit
Our Accursed Cassandras
As Afghanistan turns into quicksand, as the spectre of state failure looms over Pakistan, as tensions between town and country, royalists and Maoists, resurface in Nepal, and as Bangladesh grapples with entrenched Islamism and a mutinous border constabulary, India shines bright in comparison. In the past 60 years, we have successfully indigenised democracy and created a state that has given our many ethnic and linguistic 'nations' space to grow and flourish without endangering our unity.

What's more, India has combined the building of this extraordinarily complex democracy with rapid economic development. It has thus disproved the belief in East Asia that it is not possible to combine democracy with growth.

But success can become an addiction. As our dependence on it grows, warnings of where and how things can go wrong become less and less welcome. By degrees we begin to resent the carriers of these tidings and doubt their sincerity, till one day, we cross a line: instead of listening to the messengers we begin to shoot them. India...

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