ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Idea of ‘Atmanirbhar’ India

The central government’s idea of “Atmanirbhar” India is more instrumental than substantive.

The central government has been using different semiotics to communicate to people the steps it has been recently taking in order to deal with the pandemic. The word “atmanirbhar” or self-reliant forms the latest addition to its vocabulary. The word under reference is not empty, but has normative content that has its philosophical roots both in the nation­alist as well as the moral economy suggested by M K Gandhi. “Embedding” economy into indigenous structures of production is common to both perspectives. Thus, the word “atmanirbhar” is loaded with a comprehensive meaning that is open to debate and discussion. It is this conception that combines both capitalist economy that underlies the nationalist economic thinking and Gandhi’s moral economy that seems to have prompted the governments in the past to use the ideal of self-reliance as an effective rhetoric. This word, thus, has a long history.

The present ruling dispensation at the centre has also resorted to the word self-reliance by making it part of its mission aimed at remodelling the Indian economy. This mission, however, is based on the following assumptions that are likely to go haywire. First, as many commentators have pointed out, the government would like to achieve this mission within the period of four years, the time period left for this government. The implied intention behind this declaration of the stated mission of self-reliance is that the ruling party is anticipating its own rule for a longer period, perhaps till it completes this mission. Such hidden anticipation, however, has adverse implications for vibrant democracy, demo­cracy based on the principle of power by rotation. It, however, is altogether a different thing, if the spokesperson of the central government is intending to use the mission of self-reliance as just an idea that can be taken forward by any political party that may become a ruling party in the future. But, this rather generous expectation is silent in the assertion about self-reliance.

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Updated On : 23rd Dec, 2020
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