I have been reflecting in my own way on Dattopant Thengadi Ji's Third Way. I present these small "ripples" that it has caused in my mind in a series. I am glad it has found its resonance in many thinking minds alike. I hope the readers have read the earlier article in the series before moving ahead.
Also Read: Ripples A Reflection On Dattopant Thengadi's Third Way - Part 34
( This paper was the basis of discussion in a select group of thinkers in late 1992.) ( 'The State As Instrument' this article is considered in this write up.)
Our constitution is in a way developed on the lines of the Westminster model with a few additions from other countries. This paper discussed the process of building the system in the post-independence period. Many British officers holding important responsibilities hinted that ruling India was becoming day by day difficult. The investment of energy and personnel probably had reached the point of no returns.
Gunner Myrdal (Swedish economist and sociologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1974) in his book Asian Drama (1968) observed that south Asian countries economic and social conditions remained at the level where the colonial rule left it. ( The book published in 1968 ,almost 20 years after our independence he made an observation)
Though Jawaharlal Nehru Ji expressed his displeasure when it came to the working of the administrative systems , Socioeconomic order police,army and education did not change to a great extent. It appears that he couldn't replace old systems though he wanted I.C.S. (Imperial Civil Services) and similar services to disappear completely.
He was not in favour of nationalisation of industries except like railway, electricity, automatic energy and some important areas related to defence. At the same time he was reluctant to make any drastic change. He certainly knew that just replacing the foreign government by indigenous government will not be sufficient if the vested interests are intact.
There was reluctance to break away from the old systems. But some described the constitution was probably a copy of the 'defunct British Raj'and the constitution did not reflect aspirations of a free people.
With this background it is necessary to look at the role of state. Dattopant refered to the writings of two thinkers Pritrim Sorokin and Shri Aurobindo. Their words really bring some memories of the misuse of the giant machinery alive.
Pritrim Sorokin described a state as a 'power machine par excellence'. The power unrestrained by any of the ethical norms, he warned, may make it 'callous, cruel, tyrannical ,cynical and corrupt' too. He notes that sovereign states probably caused more killing than any other institution. With such states he thought ' no durable peace is possible'.
They have to be remodelled to serve 'humanity instead of its masters'. The government ought to have a combination of elected representatives and people from various professions. This would ' weaken the vested interests and heighten the competence, impartiality, morality and prestige of the government'. Before making any important policy, opinion of the majority of citizens is to be sought using systems and mechanisms available.
The expressions of Yogi Aurobindo in his book 'the Inadequacy of the State Idea' resonate with reader's mind for a long time. ' Theoretically,( the state) it is the subordination of the individual to a collective egoism'. ' There is no guarantee that this ruling class or ruling body represents the best mind of the nation or its noblest aims or highest instincts.'
Usually what modern politicians represent is above all the average pettiness, selfishness,egoism, self deception with a great deal of mental incompetence and moral conventionality, timidity, and pretence.
' It is in no way, the largest good of all is secured. 'Great deal of blundering and evil with some amount of good progresses.' ' It is a collective egoism' which is 'much inferior to the best of which the community is capable of.' The state is ' only in slight and undeveloped degree, an intellectual and ethical being'.
It is an exaggeration and a fiction to look at a state as the best means of human progress, he notes. The State is capable of 'providing the co-operative action of individual in the community with convenience'. It helps 'removing disabilities and obstacles which interfere with its working'.
Not recognising this is a weakness of 'English individualism' , western thinking looks at 'co- operative action as a rigid control by State'.
State is a 'machinery which tends to uniformity', but it is death not life. Yogi Aurobindo minced no words in bringing all the essential points to the notice of all.