I read somewhere that high-speed trains have a 'dead-man's switch' such that if the driver suffers a heart-attack while reading this blog or loses consciousness by reason of the extreme paroxysms of auto-erotic self-strangulation to which the task of imagining my dewy dhoti clad form must inevitably drive him to, then the engine cuts out automatically causing the train to come to a halt.
In a sense, the union of India is like that train- we might imagine that it has some sort of auto-pilot or inbuilt stabilizer (indeed, in theory, the sedition law should operate in this manner) such that the train continues to speed on while the driver keels over from sheer onanistic exhaustion- but the reverse is the case, India has a dead man switch and, it appears, that switch has now been triggered.
Last year, an obscure Chinese political Scientist suggested that China should try to break up India into a collection of 20 or 30 smaller states. At the time, the very notion seemed risible- but, today, watching Swami Agnivesh explain why his friend Dr. Binayak Sen has been given a life-sentence for Sedition (the bastard worked for the poor! He spoke out against the Sab pe Zulum cut-throats! Worse, he was friends with a Hindu Swami! Hanging is too good for him!) while, over on Al Jazeera, there's a segment on a poor woman sleeping on the pavement in New Delhi because some Minister bilked the Exchequer of 40 billion dollars- what can one say? The dead-man's switch is in operation. There is no such thing as an Indian Nation State. The project of synoecism has run out of steam. There is merely theft and a Parliamentary 'chor bazaar'- a thieves' market place- operating at the heart of things.
From the point of Economic theory, it appears to me that there is now too much diversity, not just at the level of outcome but also preferences, for a National Politics to make sense. In a sense, politically imposed poverty could make it appear that there was this huge constituency for more of the same but that is simply not true any more. Kerala has already gone through demographic transition. A malnourished woman in Kerala may look like a malnourished woman from somewhere else, but she doesn't want the same things. Kerala could get a windfall 20% gain by going its own way right now (provided it tackles its own craziness) and do a Chinese style 5 year income doubling thing- this generates pay-offs for local satraps at the level of Capital Gains so vast as to give them an incentive to fix the system.
The same can be said to one degree or another of other progressive states. True, appalling poverty statistics mean that better implementation of Poverty Relief programs may appear a money-spinner but those sorts of programs have inbuilt efficiency costs and superior mechanism design can help local power-brokers to switch from rent-seeking to capitalizing dynamic gains.
Another constraint on the Center's capacity to hold things together is the bogey raised by the doctrine of command responsibility such that when these kleptocrats go abroad to visit their money, they may be unceremoniously chucked in jail for Human Rights abuse and War Crimes and so on. Who needs that headache?
A Congress Minister, that too a Hindu, is now calling for Azadi for Kashmir- the thing makes sense. Why paint a target on your back for the vociferous Kashmiri constituency in the West? What actually is lost, from your Swill Bank account, if Kashmir is lost? Your portfolio is already diversified. Thanks to Manmohan Singh, any asset in India has already been borrowed against and the money transferred outside via false invoicing or bogus transactions- i.e the capital gain has already been realized in hard currency and hedging what remains isn't particularly expensive.
Blue sky Globalized capitalism already has its weather system of cyclones sustained by the very volatility they create such, where it matters, a sort of Cloud computed 'dominance without hegemony'' can operate and dividends accrue- yet, civil society needs hegemony to cohere- but, it appears to me, that will be supplied under the rubric of Separatism not Synoecism because, for India, the moral equivalent of the dead man's switch has already been triggered.