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India is witnessing a shift from the older generation to a younger one and from a techno-phobic society to a techno-philic one. Photo courtesy:

Eight major changes have been shaping India and the lives of Indians over the past two decades and more says eminent journalist Dileep Padgaonkar. These trends relate to tectonic shifts of power and influence across the length and breadth of our country, he says in an essay titled An Agenda for a Resurgent India in the Pune International Centre’s document Innovating India: Road Map 2014-19.

As political parties prepare to contest the next general elections with all their might and political acumen at their command, they need to prepare for the future armed with the knowledge of the changes and trends that are sweeping India. What are these changes that need to be taken note of? As identified by well-known journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, they include the following:

    1. The first shift is from the state to the market. The dismantling of the licence-permit raj, begun in earnest by PM Narsimha Rao and Manmohan Singh and carried forward by the BJP-led NDA, accounts for the phenomenal increase in our GDP. But it has also led to renewed debates about growth-vs-inclusive growth. All the same, no political party, not even the CPI(M), contests the merits of an investment-friendly economic policy.


    1. The second shift is from government to civil society. The latter, aided and often abetted, by 24x7 TV news channels, has made its voice heard on a number of issues ranging from corruption to violence against women, from environmental protection to the rights of communities whose lands are sought for exploitation of forest and mineral resources, from the intimidation of minorities to the misuse of the powers of the police and the armed forces. But civil society would also need to address the grave deficit in the civic sense of our citizens.


    1. The third shift of power and influence is from the Capital, New Delhi, to the Capitals of the states and further down to the level of sub-region, districts and panchayats. The remarkable rise of regional and caste-based parties is evidence of this trend as is the clamour for separate states in many parts of the country.


    1. The fourth shift is from upper-caste domination of the system of growing clout of those in the lower rungs of the ladder. The assertiveness of the latter to claim a place in the power structure is a fact of life that no one can afford to ignore.


    1. The fifth shift is from the older generation to a younger one. No surprises here given the demographic nature of Indians today. In every walk of public life- from corporate to political parties- this trend is unmistakable. But this demographic advantage could lead to a catastrophe if the young aren’t endowed with educational and vocational skills to provide them with the security of gainful employment.


    1. The sixth shift is from a male-centric power structure to one that is more gender-balanced. This would be obvious from the way our women excel in just about every walk of endeavour. The ‘moral policing’ or variations of ‘khap justice’ are the flip side of this very coin.


    1. The seventh shift is from a techno-phobic India to a techno-philic one. Indians today embrace, for the better or the worse, innovations in technology to improve the material conditions of their life more than ever before.


  1. The eighth shift is from an India that wanted to be non-aligned to one that wants India to be multi-aligned. The credit to bring this about must go to Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.

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