19 April, 2021

Very Little Left Over

Far too long have Rightist voices been stifled—since 1947

Very Little Left Over

A casual reading of India’s post-Independence history may well prompt the belief that the republic was born to be Leftish. From the time Nehru warded off the challenge of the orphaned followers of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the early 1950s, the buzzword has been socialism. This deification of state control with its attendant inefficiencies and the celebration of centralised planning persisted into and through the tenure of Indira Gandhi.

Besides institutionalising sluggish growth, creating a bloated, venal state, and driving honest entrepreneurship into oblivion, Indira, who entered into a marriage of convenience with an opportunistic Marxist Left, distorted the vocabulary of Indian politics. Unlike Nehru, who transplanted the genteel traditions of upper-class British socialism into the discourse, his daughter borrowed from the sloganeering lan­­guage of pro-Soviet intellectuals. Denun­ciation of “right-wing rea­­c­t­­ion­aries” became a feature of the politi­cal landscape. Its high point was...

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