Atmosphere of fear has stalled India’s economy

Creation of wealth is a creative process and is always spearheaded by citizens who feel safe and live without fear in the country, writes Anil K. Rajvanshi for South Asia Monitor

Anil K. Rajvanshi Dec 27, 2019
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In the last few weeks there have been massive protests all over India against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).  Without going into the merits or demerits of these bills, somehow they have provided a spark to the bottled up anger of youth.
 
With the economy down and no gainful employment for youngsters, such sparks, no matter where they originate, help to ignite the bottled up frustrations and anger. It is in the interest of the present dispensation and others to understand the causes and provide possible solutions to bring calm and peace to this ancient land.
 
One of the great safety valves in a democracy is the free and fearless voices of its citizens. These voices in any fora allow dissenting points of view to be aired and heard. Obviously, these voices should follow the norms of decorum and decency and should not incite rebellion and trouble. 
 
Free and fearless voices are the backbone of every great nation and also help in the creative process of nation building.
 
Creation of wealth is a creative process and is always spearheaded by citizens who feel safe and live without fear in the country. The history of civilization is replete with examples where creation of wealth through free enterprise was fuelled by the environment of freedom and free spirit. Freedom from fear allows out of the box thinking, which is an important part of creative process.
 
Thus, I feel that the worsening economy of India is because of the atmosphere of fear. This stops people from making investments and government officers from taking decisions. Also this stops the information channels to the highest echelons, since they get into this mode of being know-alls, and dissenting voices are frowned upon and people become afraid of giving their dissenting opinion.  
 
To maintain discipline, fear is always used by authorities. This is what happens in schools. Obviously it is a hindrance for the creative thought process and thus most of our schools and colleges churn out mediocre students and clerks.
 
A country cannot be run like a school; more so in a pluralistic society like India, where the leadership has to take everybody together for building the country.  The British policy of divide and rule was used by them to rule and plunder the country but, in a free and democratic country like India, it stifles the creative process. 
 
We need the creativity of our citizens to make this country great and that can only happen when fear is removed.
 
The outpouring of revolt by youngsters is a good sign.  They are not afraid of the authorities.
 
My father Jagdish Rajvanshi went to jail with Mahatma Gandhi in the 1942 freedom struggle.  He used to tell me that when a tommy (Englishman) walked on a footpath, the natives would get down from it. Such was the fear of the Englishman. This psychological power was used by the British, which allowed 300,000 of them to rule a country of 300 million people!
 
This fear was removed and the psychological hold was broken by Mahatma Gandhi who was a fearless leader and told Indians that we can stand against the biggest colonial power of the world. He told us to become fearless and, as the maxim of Marxists goes, “you have nothing to lose except your chains”, he made Indians free from the fear of the British and gave India and our people freedom.
 
There will always be problems in a country of the size of India but once the fear is removed and the creative forces are unleashed, then everything will start growing including economy and happiness.  Then India will stop burning.    
 
(The writer is Director of the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute in Phaltan, Maharashtra. He can be reached at anilrajvanshi@gmail.com)