TOPIC – The reality of an India at the crossroads

Individual events are often an indicator of broader trends. Any vision of the future is again significantly linked to what is taking place in the present. For now, most if not all, of what is taking place does not seem to hold out any great promise for India.  Policymakers need not take public opinion as the sole indicator of what is likely to happen, but it is important to acknowledge public fears and reassure people, especially in periods of uncertainty. Increasingly, in recent weeks, India has begun to resemble a war zone, but neither any reassurance nor any attempt at building a ‘consensus’ addressing current concerns is taking place.  Meanwhile, the world press is replete with stories of India’s ‘diminishing democracy’ in which, apart from the organs of state, even India’s highly regarded criminal justice system and the courts have come in for a share of criticism. This is beginning to shake the confidence of even the most die-hard supporters of Indian democracy, who are beginning to look inward to try and ascertain if Indian democracy is more fragile than is apparent. India cannot afford to ignore the reality of the situation in which it finds itself. The Indian economy is in recession and is among the worst-performing among major nations. Among key currencies, the Indian Rupee is one of the very few which is depreciating, while the Euro, the Australian and Canadian Dollars, the South Korean Won, and the Swiss Franc have become much stronger recently. India also claims to be among the worst affected by ransomware attacks. Meanwhile, India is turning increasingly protectionist, coming up with banal explanations to explain this away, contrary to conventional wisdom. In the meantime, the atmospherics surrounding India’s external relations are quite depressing. China remains intransigent and has made known its unwillingness to reach a reasonable settlement of the Line of Actual Control dispute. India­ Pakistan relations could hardly be worse and China has chosen at this moment to sign a new Military Memorandum of Understanding to boost the China-Pakistan relationship. India’s forays in its Near Abroad in West Asia are yet to yield results, even though, on the surface, relations with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia are better. The reality, nevertheless, is that India does not have enough traction to be able to manoeuvre between different power centres in West Asia which are at various times in conflict. Consequently, India will find it increasingly difficult to steer between the Scylla of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt on the one hand and the Charybdis of Turkey, Qatar, and Iran on the other. Far more serious, however, are concerns being voiced about India’s democratic credentials both within the country and abroad. India might well claim that the numbers of terror attacks have reduced,  levels of Maoist violence have come down, and the situation in India’s Northeast is much better than before, but many people across India are seeking proper answers to the question as to whether India is forfeiting its democratic visage for a more doctrinaire and a more rigid set of policies. In August­-September last year, this issue had briefly surfaced when Delhi decided to dilute Article 370 of the Constitution and restructure Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh into two Union Territories. It possibly passed muster at the time as something that was already included in the ruling party’s manifesto.  Concerns, however, began to be felt soon after, in the wake of the clampdown in Kashmir, and the incarceration of almost the entire top leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party and the National Conference party. The anti­Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests across the country thereafter seemed to confirm such fears. Compounding this situation lately has been the attempt to impose a sort of ‘guided democracy’ in J&K, through the instrument of elections to the District Development Council, in the course of which the Opposition Alliance has been smeared with epithets such as “unholy global gathbandhan” working against the national interest, etc.


Consensus (noun) – Agreement in the judgment

Synonyms – accord, harmony, concurrence, unanimity, concord

Antonyms – disagreement, dissension, controversy, contention, confrontation

Die­hard (noun) – One who adheres to traditional views

Synonyms – intransigent, reactionary, conservative, fanatic, zealot

Antonyms – conductor, modernist, liberal, rational, unorthodox

Fragile (adjective) – Easily broken or damaged

Synonyms – delicate, weak, frail, feeble, tenuous

Antonyms – unbreakable, strong, sturdy, stout, lusty

Banal (adjective) – Commonplace

Synonyms – trite, stale, threadbare, corny, dull

Antonyms – romantic, extraordinary, delicious, creative, aboriginal

Intransigent (adjective) – Refusing compromise

Synonyms – inflexible, stubborn, unyielding, inexorable, obdurate

Antonyms – accepting, liberal, progressive, flexible, acquiescent

Forays (noun) – A sudden short attack

Synonyms – raid, plunder, despoil, assault, swoop

Antonyms – abstentions

Traction (noun) – The act of drawing a body along a plane by motive power

Synonyms – grip, tension, adhesion, tensile, friction

Antonyms – slipperiness, repulsion, slickness, berth, trickery

Manoeuvre (noun) – A military training exercise

Synonyms – trick, stratagem, plot, manipulate, ruse

Antonyms – omit, neglect, disregard, ignore, tautness

Steer (verb) – Direct (oneself) somewhere

Synonyms – guide, conduct, shepherd, navigate, escort

Antonyms – abandon, observe, brook

Forfeiting (noun) – Surrendered as a penalty

Synonyms – lose, waive, relinquish, sacrifice, surrender

Antonyms – winning, redeeming, retaining, atoning, arrogating

Incarceration (noun) – The state of being imprisoned

Synonyms – imprisonment, detention, captivity, confinement, restraint

Antonyms – freedom, redemption, emancipation, escape, generosity

Epithets (noun) – A defamatory or abusive word

Synonyms – obscenity, descriptions, sobriquets, moniker