This is why we widely tolerate — even applaud — police brutality; why middle India will rise to back Anna Hazare but ignore Irom Sharmila; why we want Kashmir and Manipur to remain with India but could not care less about the Kashmiris or Manipuris.
India’s new nationalism demands conformity, not rebellion, and it will back only issues of self-interest; it proclaims all Indians are equal, while being blind to or condoning discrimination against minorities.
As the middle-class expands in number and aspirations — both material and political — its nationalism of self-interest will demand political subservience.
Narendra Modi realised very early that the middle class is growing, its soaring aspirations require good governance, and it will accept a strong, even autocratic, leader. Rahul Gandhi and the Congress are yet focused on old, paternalistic politics that promote handouts, loyalty and state munificence over efficiency.
This will change. No amount of Dalit homestays and parachute trips to troublespots will help Gandhi unless he engages with India’s new nationalism.
Elections, particularly national elections are complex issues, and the Indian middle class is certainly not homogenous. Does the above seem like simplistic theorising? Or does it capture a reality?