INDIA in 2024: What will the new mantra be?

In the 1990s, ‘dev’ (Ram), ‘desh’ (jingoistic nationalism) and ‘dharma’ (Hindutva) caught the popular imagination. What we need is the next mantra—an image of a brighter, better future

What can be a new mantra for India? Representative image shows a Bharat Jodo Yatra logo over a text collage showing: inflation, poorer, inequality, suppression, subversion, propaganda, jumla, coercive, divisiveness, hate, discrimination etc
What can be a new mantra for India? Representative image shows a Bharat Jodo Yatra logo over a text collage showing: inflation, poorer, inequality, suppression, subversion, propaganda, jumla, coercive, divisiveness, hate, discrimination etc
user

GN Devy

The rule of the East India Company ended in 1857, but the British ruled India for the next nine decades.

For the first 50 years of that rule, the key term used to secure people’s endorsement of British rule was ‘law and order’.

The backdrop was the situation of lawlessness that prevailed in the first half of the 19th century. That term became the mantra for the British mission of ‘civilising India’.

Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj was published in 1909. Around the same time, Lokmanya Tilak declared ‘swarajya (self-governance)’ his birthright.

Through the decades of the 1910s to the 1940s, the term ‘swaraj’ or ‘swarajya’ ruled the nation’s mind.

From Independence till 1990, the magic mantra was ‘roti, kapda aur makan’— the promise to end poverty ruled public discourse, and the backdrop then was India’s abject poverty during colonial rule. People hailed the idea of an egalitarian welfare state.

Since the 1990s, ‘dev’ (Ram), ‘desh’ (jingoistic nationalism) and ‘dharma’ (Hindutva) have exercised a similar pull on the popular imagination—the results are there for all to see.

What we need is the next mantra—stripped down to essentials, an incantation that will show India an image of the future.

For decisive traction, the new formulation must be seen against the backdrop of the immediate past.

To my mind, the three terms that can guide Indian politics in future and get overwhelming support from the people are ‘samata’, ‘kshamata’, ‘vividhata’ (equality, capacity, diversity).

The idea of samata will address social discord; kshamata will resonate with the aspirations of the largest-ever middle class; vividhata will address the widespread anxiety over the looming ecological emergency.

Leaders who effectively articulate these ideas and can build an organic link between the new mantra and their political actions will win the hearts of Indians for the next few decades.

GANESH DEVY is an educationist and cultural activist. Views are personal

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines


;