India in the 21st Century

The pace of the day in the life of every common Indian citizen depends on the singular recognised phrase, originating from the antiquity of the Atharva Veda, which is reduced into the form of a material entity that now governs the transactions of daily life. “Satyamev Jayate” is the national motto of the “nation” which is demarcated as the Indian subcontinent today. And in its visual form it is exchanged in everyday negotiations through the Indian currency. Yet, while it remains in its dormant form in the pockets and purses of the citizens, it sustains as an active element of the social fabric of the country.

Ever since its Independence, India has struggled to become “e pluribus unum” that is “one state out of many”. The fervor of the struggle for a national identity acts as the determining agent of the palpability of truth in the Indian society. The nature of Indian history dictates a course where the awakening of the “Indian spirit” belied a quest of the society to recognise the social reality of the day. From the Dalit Movements of 1927 to the Feminist Movements in 21st Century India, the social concern for the group specific issues is not a beginning of a struggle as much as the culmination of the process of self-reflection. And, as the diverse groups of the Indian country unite in this universal sense of a single “self”, which is misleadingly recognised as the “patriotic nerve”, a brimming core of social revolution begins to take shape at the heart of the “Indian” spirit. I identify it as a revolution for it threatens to overpower the authority of the State. Hence, these social forces are deeply knitted into the social fabric such that they can be neither be removed nor subdued until the resolution of its concerns.

Being at the bed of a history which speaks of a number of civil movements, the 21st century India witnesses the echoes of the revolutions past and the nurturing of newer self reflections. The winning spree of the Modi Government in the allurement of “Achhe Din” which promised no corruption and equal rights was the concluding chapter of a movement that began with the frustration of the poor and the increased economic differences. And it is worth a notice that the face of such an upheaval of the “common man” must be a person of the same constitution as the people who elected him.

To add to this political trope of addressing the ‘voice of the un-heard’, is the recently paced movement of women rights that addresses half of the country’s citizens and discusses about the social position of the other “better half”. In the wake of the Nirbhaya Case of 2012, the women’s movement has set a curve of growth that has reached the immediate politics of the day. With the Supreme Court considering and re-considering the arguments for legality of Triple Talaq, one can clearly infer that Feminist movement by far is the only social movement that has so instantaneously moved the Laws and the Contemporary Politics.

In between the above major arousals of the societal mass lie the ruptures which centred around the issue(s) of patriotism, protection of rights of the Dalits and the minor racial and religious communities. It is necessary to add that these ruptures succeed the lineage of social revolutions which originated before the Independence of India and yet one can identify a relatively different orientation with which they operate. The abounding reason for the same draws on the picture of the Present.

With the multiplicity of issues that arouse the society today, the diverse groups in the populous of India have taken a defensive stance in the face of testing times. To the existential anxieties of these groups which differ in terms of ethnicity, race, culture, colour or language, the exposure to a global platform has increased the impulse of irrational use of power. The public protests against Jallikattu on the behest of preserving 1000 years old heritage and the reactions of the so-called “Culture guards” to the rumors of a threat in Rajasthan are instances of a social force which has been aimlessly misused. Against such a picture, 21st century India bows to become a society which is held on a precarious and vulnerable balance.

However, in the progressivism, which foreign forces like globalisation promise, the Indian thought locates a shift in paradigms. Starting from the metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai, the reactions to the aforementioned social ruptures takes an entirely different face. Delhi and Mumbai are exceedingly becoming the bed of modern thought for they are inhabited by a number of representatives from different communities each of which assert and exemplify a newfound interest.

Therefore, it is imperative to conclude that quest of the 21st century India is, if not aligned to, but affiliated to a quest for realising reason. And even more so to the aim of incorporating it into the dogmatic social framework that does not allow space for individual development. Thus, the shifting equations between the Individual and the society are the defining features of India in the 21st century.

Mridula Bhatt

I am an occassional writer, a swingy reader and curious person with a number of hobbies.

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