Is The Balbanization of Indian Polity And Society Acceptable in 21st Century?

The recent political drama and the relatively unprecedented preceding mainstream Indian English media-hype involving elevation of Narendra Modi the current Gujarat CM (known to be autocratic in style and allegedly held responsible for the Post-Godhra communal riots of 2002 involving massacre of hundreds of innocent people, mostly muslims besides a few non-muslims, polarizing the Gujarati society along Hindu-Muslim fault-line)as the chief campaigner of the BJP for 2014 Lok Sabha elections at the expense of other equally or more capable peers and senior leaders like the party patriach LK Advani, Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha, Sushma Swaraj, Raman Singh, Shivraj Chauhan, Arun Jaitley, Ananth Kumar and Nitin Gadkari has thrown up an interesting question worth exploring Is the Balbanization of Indian Polity and society acceptable in 21st century?


In an age when the whole world is become an integrated whole by virtue of means of instant communication like the internet leading to greater freedom of individual choice and decision making, can we allow our lives to be overruled and ruined by any one individual’s personal whims and ideology?

First of all, let us learn a bit about Balban. Ghiyasuddin Balban ruled Delhi from 1266 to 1287, in medieval times in India. He was son of a Central Asian Turkic noble of the Ilbari tribe, captured as a child by Mangols and sold as a slave at Ghazni. Sultan Iltutmish bought him in 1232. He was made Khasdar [personal attendant] by the Sultan. Later on, he became the head of the Chalissa, a group of forty Turkic nobles or chieftains of the state who practised principle of equality and the first amongst equals.

Before Balban usurped power, the decision making used to be collective, ensuring highest level of brotherhood and unity amongst different powerful Turkic chieftains. But, Balban used ‘the Blood and Iron policy’ leading to killing or sidelining of all other Turkic chieftains and establishing himself as the autocratic ruler with all its attendant negative fall outs despite his excellent demonstrated administrative skills.

His dictatorial style caused disunity amongst the Turks and they gradually went on becoming weaker and finally were overpowered by the others after his death.

In modern India, Indira Gandhi had then in 1960s come to power on the strength of the idealist young MPs of her times by dislodging the powerful senior leaders.

She had performed really wonderful public-friendly magical tricks like the nationalization of 14 major private banks on the 19th of July in 1969 which helped the economically poor procure bank-loans with ease to carry out life sustaining activities. Earlier, it had virtually been impossible for any poor to even dream of getting a loan from the banks that mainly were catering to the rich, industrialists and the powerful…!

It is said that those days, rickshaw pullers proudly displayed the names of the nationalised banks on their rickshaws, courtesy Indira Gandhi!

Same Indira unfortunately fell to the temptation of the highly centralized individualised power-holding phantom leading her to impose the emergency under MISA in 1975 that created chaos and curtailed individual freedom in India…!

To be fair to the present Congress headed by Sonia, it must be added that the decisions within the Congress party prima facie seem to be taken by the collective leadership despite the apparently visible  dynastic control by the Gandhi family  that actually is being used by the party more as a glue to keep its diverse factions intact rather than as a high command for taking orders from…!

Now, the mainstream Indian English media, business and industrial houses and BJP/RSS seem to have fallen to this political trap that I would like to call ‘the Balban Trap’ or ‘Balbanization.’

In the name of efficent corruption vs a vs inefficient corruption in a scenario of policy freez on account of Indian government’s lethargy flowing out of its censuring by the Law over a spat of scandals allegedly involving it like Coalgate, 2 G Spectrum, etc, influential media commentators and opinion makers besides business/industrial houses are clamouring for elevation of anyone who could get the things moving even if that person is an autocrat…! 
Those supporting the new-found notion of efficient corruption say that it's better to have a corrupt administration that promptly clears the business and other projects/proposals by taking bribes than the one that doesn't accept bribes for fear of being caught by the Law and hence has no interest in clearing the files gathering dust in various government ministries...!

Such restless forces now see the panacea in Narendra Modi. It’s an altogether different story that the electoral arithmetic may ensure non-elevation of Narendra Modi to the post of Indian Prime Ministership in 2014…!

Narendra Modi is certainly going to be the prime contender in the BJP for the Prime Ministership of India in case of the BJP coming to power at the Centre in New Delhi in 2014 elections, in view of his claim then having been the prime force behind steering of the BJP to the victory; despite the current BJP president Rajnath Singh's technical argument that the elevation of Narendra Modi as chief poll campaigner doesn't mean automatic acceptance of Narendra Modi as future PM by the BJP...!


In today’s democratic liberal age, it’s nearly impossible for any Indian political leader to adopt Balban’s medieval tactics like killing of the equals to emerge as the de-facto autocrat. So, other means like technology are used to whip up the hype in favour of the self or a particular leader.

The most clever autocratic ones take to the Facebook, Twitter and Blogger route from day one, use big public relations personal team and world-class advertising companies to try and build a virtual-world mass hysteria followed by orchestrated public demonstrations on ground to prove the fan-following.

The more humble ones are left behind in this internet rat-cat-bat-chat race, unable to hype their equally or more significant achievements or are unable to get their followers register their support on social networking sites…! The net result is the creation of a virtual illusion giving undue advantage to some, disadvantage to others. This is further helped by the stage-managed media opinion polls/forecasts.

And lo, the stage gets ready for the launch of the would-be autocrat/dictator…! The inefficient corruption always is preferable to the efficient dictatorship.

Autocracy always invariably leads to short term gains, but long term harms. It stifles the fruitful contributions by other members of the polity and society. It becomes relatively difficult to dislodge a dictator than dislodging an inefficient corrupt leader/administration in a democracy once the dictatorship takes firm roots through democratic means or otherwise. You will find numerous examples if you look around.

In short, the Balbanization harms the peace by harming the society, too via its perceptible adverse effect on a polity…!

~ J G M J V S A J


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