12 May, 2021

Tocsin For An Ancien Regime

A deep thirst for change in India must be met by the monolithic state

Illustrations by Sorit
Tocsin For An Ancien Regime

We live in an age that is struggling to interpret its own meaning. The nature of social and political change in India is so rapid and contradictory that naming it is no easy task. Is this India’s Tahrir Square moment? Is this the dawn of India’s Progressive Age? These analogies obscure more than they enlighten. Certainly, urban India is witnessing new forms of mobilisation. But unlike Tahrir Square, no regime change is at stake. There is clamour for a new political imagination. But the elements of this imagination have hardly congealed in any form that can be identified as Progressive. What we are witnessing in India is the unleashing of energies that have long been in the making. There is a sense of a powerful current tearing down an old decrepit system. But will the result be chaos, or a new ordered freedom? In part, the answer to this question will depend upon whether we can diagnose our own predicament.

The architecture of the Indian state is now being seriously contested. Indian practices of exercising power were founded on six principles that are no...

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