On 11 October 2012, Dr. Ramachandra Guha, distinguished historian and commentator on India, presented a lecture for the Center for Constitutional Transitions at NYU Law (Constitutional Transitions) on the societal divisions plaguing India today, and their effect on that country’s rise as a world power. A video recording of the event is available here.
Dr. Guha introduced the talk, entitled “India’s Internal Fault Lines: A Fatal Blow to its Global Ambitions,” on a cautionary note, restating his claim that India’s formation as a republic was a “reckless political experiment”, representing the single largest enfranchisement in history of an illiterate population. He proceeded to trace the major political fissures in India from independence in 1947 until the present. In particular, Dr. Guha focused on four contemporary challenges: ongoing identity-based conflict, along religious, caste and class lines; secessionist movements in Nagaland, Manipur and Kashmir; the Maoist uprising; and severe environmental degradation, both from climate change and domestic resource depletion.
Despite these challenges facing India and his pessimism regarding India’s status on the world stage, Dr. Guha argued that India should continue to strengthen the central state and that the international community ought to grant India a status commensurate with its economic and political importance, notably as a new permanent member on the United Nations Security Council.