Strange Bedfellows: Sex and Another Constitution
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a good fortune and faculties must, generally be in want of a similarly situated man. A Jewish friend of mine notes that Eve (of Adam and...) was created, not from Adam's head to be higher than him, or from his foot to be lower, but from his rib to be his equal. What I'm trying to get at is that if, in a relationship, there is no unity of sense or sensibility, (seriously, I need to be exorcised of Jane Austen) if there is no similarity of personality, or moral code, or family background, or interest, or occupation, or manner, or common goals it is doubtful that a friendship, much less a marriage (see Charlotte and Eric), will succeed.
What is true for a marriage of people, then, is no doubt also true of a marriage of states...if states that come together under the chupah of a constitution, it is necessary that they have at least something thing in common, else be small enough to see themselves as a single 'individual' state. Again this all seems to be a bit of a truism...
A few days ago, I was speaking to a good friend of mine about India, its problems and its future. India has many problems - bribery, corruption, poverty, overpopulation, supersitition (which goes along with female subjugation). It's good bits have to do with its variety and diversity. The obvious solution then, would be to have a government in place to solve all these problems. Why, you may ask, has the government not been able to do so until now, in a country where democractic participation (in polls) is among the highest in the world.
One reason at least, is that India is massive. It's the 7th largest country in the world and has the 2nd largest population. It is impossible for Parliamentary representatives to truly represent the people of India. The number of representatives (lower house): 545, the number of people: 1 billion plus. You may or may not be Indian-but you should be able to do the math. It is impossible that all the members of a constituency of nearly 2 million will have homogenous interests,or be able to communicate those interests to their representative. Thus, a large percentage of Indians are not effectively represented.
To gain the votes of their massive constituency, many representatives rely on force, most rely on middle men, who may be village leaders or the localities' mafia lords. These middle men can get the votes of the people they rule. (For a comparatively realistic situation of politics in rural North India, see Omkara, an adaptation of Othello). In turn, if the representative himself is not the 'overlord', he is coerced into following these demands of these middle men, rather than what he believes to be those of the people who should be represented. These demands are, to a large extent, those of a semi-educated, conservative, feudal group, who eschew social reformation, and wish to maintain rigid hierarchy, both for self preservation, and as a moral imperative. In this way, the basic needs of the people-education, health, food and shelter are either not provided, or if provided, are done so to local lords in a way that solidify their own position in local society, who neither knows, nor cares about a distant government in Delhi.
Second, India truly is a divided country, divided between the rich and the poor, between barriers of religion, caste, and class. The problems of one part of the country differ completely from those of other parts of the country. Thus, some parts of the country may need economic protection and quotas ('affirmative action'); some may need the government to focus on programs providing basic food, health and education; some may need to focus on cultural reformation, and eradication of practices like sati, female infanticide, etc. Others can afford to make their primary considerations foreign dictators and sexual deviancy.
Now, this would not be an issue if our politicians realised the need for a policy domestically tailored to meet the precise needs of various areas. However, the ideologues in our government are more harmful than the ideologues of other large democracies, such as the United States. The US, compared to India, is a largely homogenous country. Disparities in income, while increasing, (since, the 1970s-so much for Reaganomics) certainly are not even comparative to that of India. Cultural differences are practically, (comparatively) nonexistent. Most people can speak the same language. In India, my neighbors speak only English, the shop keeper downstairs speaks only Hindi, my maid addresses me in Marathi with Hindi grammar (as I don't speak Marathi), go 200 km south and you enter areas where they speak neither national language, but various regional languages which are further away from Hindi than Hindi is from English, with scripts as similar to Hindi, as Japanese. Furthermore, America has remained (despite the best efforts of Earl Warren) a Christian country, whose Supreme Court justices do not sodomise their wives. While India cannot boast of sodomitical SC justices, (to my knowledge), it does boast of some of the largest religious minorities, with more Muslims than any middle-east country, as many Christians as several smaller European countries, and several indigenous religions to boot.
Given these facts, when left-wing members of a coalition demand that the government create national policies (such as increasing quotas for ethnic minorities in universities), some areas which do not need these policies, are disserviced. Similarly, with greater disparities in income and education between states than any elected government its size, states that are more financially independent are held back by policies designed for poorer states, and have to bear unequal support of a national economy. Finally, because of this 'diversity', India faces more known separatist movements than any other country its size, with demands from and terrorism in the north, south, east, and (until lately) west for separate states for regional and religious minorities. States themselves often obstruct the policies of the national government which they (often, rightly) believe will hinder the interests of their people.
The solution which I'm leading up to is drastic, but practical - split India. While it troubles the conscience of every Indian, indoctrinated with myths of unification and legends of Indian brotherhood, it seems to provide a solution to many of the problems I have listed, and have few reasons against it. Of course, instead of a complete split, one could always look at looser political union instead, along the lines of the EU (which is, arguably, more homogenous than India), in which states would have autonomous domestic policies and agendas and coordinate (if not the same) foreign policy.
For one thing, more representation. With greater access to political leaders, with the corollary of more visibility of political leaders to the populace there will be greater accountability for political leaders, while the power of unelected mafia lords will decrease. Constituency sizes will decrease, and governments will better be able to adress the unique problems and solutions regarding education and poverty. Furthermore, smaller democracies generally have greater political transparency, having smaller bureaucracies and greater media concentration on smaller government, which would help clean up government.
Finally, even if this argument is not accepted-if readers believe that poor states will remain poor and rich states (i.e.,the South) will get richer, the fact is that today, rich states are, by international standards, still poor, often because they are held back by policies and burdens unsuitable for them. I suggest it would be better for them to first develop completely, and then help poorer neighboring states, rather than trying to limp along, while trying to carry the carcass of a dead elephant at the same time...
What are the reasons then to oppose this loosening of ties? History? The fact is,that India never was a single country. Unification happened because of a unified struggle against the British,not through common culture. However, unifying a country because of a common enemy, while following to some extent, along the lines of the German and Italian unifications, is hardly healthy or sustainable when dealing with a country with greater heterogeneity than either of the other two.Religion? While Hinduism is the main religion, and some people undoubtedly would prefer it to be the state religion, as shown by frequent massacres of Muslims (and Hindus in Muslim neighborhoods) as well as harassment of Christians etc., there are sizeable minorities in the country. In fact, such an argument would play into my hands - it would be better to let those areas that want to form Hindu states form Hindu States (e.g. Gujarat) thus letting the minorities living there know exactly what they are in for. Arguably, even if minorities chose to remain in those states, the majority in the area, having had their superior status acknowledged, would reduce persecution. For example, the Ayodhya/Babri Masjid conflict: if Ayodhya fell within a Hindu State, there could be no conflict regarding its disposal, as the state religion would dictate the result, and while there would possibly be dissatisfaction among the Muslim minority, there could hardly be contention among the general population, and indecision as to what should be done, as the issue would have been handled according to the legal dictates of the State. Most Muslims, knowing that they could not affect the issue would not bother agitating in the first place: behavior theory tells us that we will only fight for an issue, if the issue is undecided, not if it already decided in one way or the other.
Finally, there is the major issue of sentiment. I do not heartlessly dismantle the structure created with the loving care, and blessed with the martyred blood of so many freedom fighters and historical statesmen. Instead, I look at the yawning abyss into which this structure is leaning, into which it will topple and slide, if it not, as lovingly, albeit heartrendingly taken apart, brick by brick, piece by piece, hopefully one day to be reconstructed on firmer ground. This is a solution in which India as a whole can be glued back together again, rather than splintering and foundering in oblivion.
Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on India or developing countries. Also, as a wannabe historian, I know the dangers of talking in counterfactuals. Thus, please correct facts and opinions you think should