India on the verge of ‘a million mutinies’?

R Jagannathan of Swarajya has a piece raising several controversial (if not millions) ideas.

If 2015 was annus horribilis for the Narendra Modi government, 2016 and beyond could be worse. The Jat agitation and the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with student protestors are surely being fanned to make it difficult for Modi to govern, but these are merely sideshows invented by politicians seeking to gain from the underlying rage in society.

The reality is that India is again ready for a “million mutinies”, to use VS Naipaul’s evocative expression, as the various tectonic plates of caste, class, gender, religion, ethnicity and language start moving and clashing with one another. The upsurge is not about this government or that issue, but about the fact that our politicians, social leaders and economic pundits have refused to look at fundamental problems and find real solutions to them.

We have applied jugaad and patchwork solutions, and the time has probably come when all these underlying tensions and frustrations will erupt. It is not specifically anti-Modi, but it will surely become that, since rival politicians will seek to deflect blame and pin it on one villain – and that would be Modi, because he happens to occupy a high-profile political seat.


Modi has to start a dialogue with various interest groups, explain the limits of what he can and can’t do, and propose amendments for accountable governance. Indian society is in churn, and this needs leadership of the highest order at every level, if Modi isn’t to end up as a mere footnote in history.


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