DailyPost 2329

Gunnar Myrdal, the celebrated economist, writer and Nobel Prize winner in his book Asian Drama, introduced the term Soft State to describe to describe a general societal “indiscipline” prevalent in South Asia. This concept is in comparison to a kind of modern state that has emerged in Europe. This term was used to describe, “all the various types of indiscipline which manifests themselves by deficiencies of legislation and, in particular, law observance and enforcement, a widespread disobedience by public officials and, often, their collusion with powerful persons and groups … whose conduct they should regulate.”

This book was published in the year 1968, how much has the nature of state changed in this country. If it did, was if for the better or for the worse. Do we even understand the concept of a modern state, which was achieved in the western world ages back. We still go on study tours and promise to plant /replicate what we saw in the modern western world into this country. In has not happened so far, and there is very little likelihood of that happen. We have making our own quick fix formulas. Gunnar Myrdal adds that within the concept of the soft state belongs also corruption. While people might not be aware of the theoretical construct of our national existence, but the description willy-nilly summarises our functioning today, fifty four years after the publication of Asian Drama.

While the soft state continues, what has changed then? What has changed is the creation and practice of hard stance. There has been hardening of stance of the power elite. They have also perfected the art of milking the government machinery and the nation while maintaining the visible tools and semblance of all democratic elements. The country continues to practice various types of indiscipline, but the beauty is one type of indiscipline has gained precedence over all others. It has reached a level that it is not treated as indiscipline now but the vaguely reached levels of divine right of leaders. Bureaucracy has been de facto brought under total subservience, reminiscences of the steel frame can be a moral booster at times.

Adverse media publicity or a community going against the ruling elite now does not ruffle feathers, how that is to be managed has already been perfected as an art. The power elite comprises of the powers that be and the pliable sections of the erstwhile steel frame, it is becoming more and more difficult to find the non-pliable ones. Collusion which Myrdal has talked about in 1968 has become the order of the day, camouflaged in a manner that you would barely be able to do anything legally, even if the whole world knew about it. The hard stance can be seen everywhere, when everything what ought to have been delivered to democratic masses, seems to have been slipping fast out of their world. Everything can be managed is the moral of the story of this hard stance.

Sanjay Sahay

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