Decentralizing Democracy: The Rahul Gandhi Doctrine

Decentralizing Democracy: The Rahul Gandhi Doctrine


arrowVoir tous les articles

Decentralizing Democracy: The Rahul Gandhi Doctrine

Where should India stand in the world

India’s position in international relations, especially at a gathering like the G20, which was held in New Delhi over the weekend, is a complex matter 1 . When it comes to a nation as vast and diverse as India, it’s oversimplified to categorize it as being on one side or another. In reality, India acts in its own national interest, and its foreign policy reflects that.

India’s stance in international relations is not about choosing sides; it’s about pursuing policies that benefit the country. The idea of «standing straight in the middle» is emblematic of this approach. Given India’s size and diverse relationships, it’s essential to maintain diplomatic ties with multiple countries.

However, one key principle that India upholds is the importance of voice and democracy. India, as a democracy, places great significance on these values. The Indian people are accustomed to handling complexity and nuance in international affairs, which doesn’t neatly fit into binary categories.

The global challenge at hand is the concentration of production, manufacturing, and value addition in China. While India doesn’t pass judgment on this development, it recognizes that China’s approach to production involves non-democratic, coercive conditions. In contrast, India seeks to ensure production in a democratic and non-coercive environment while competing on a global scale.

Our challenge isn’t about confronting China but presenting an alternative model of production. India, along with the United States and Europe, needs to offer a system that combines economic and political freedom. This is vital for job creation, economic growth, and the well-being of their populations.

Democracy under attack 

The threats against minority groups

Addressing the violence against minorities in India, particularly the ongoing atrocities faced by the Dalit community, is a pressing issue that demands both societal and institutional solutions.

To combat this issue effectively, it is essential to embrace a new political course of action. It’s imperative that the problem is acknowledged and confronted head-on. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have been criticized for policies that restrict the participation and expression of lower-caste, other backward caste, and tribal communities, as well as minority groups. In an inclusive India, mistreatment or attacks on any individual based on their caste or religion should not be tolerated. The India our coalition is fighting for is a country where every citizen, regardless of their caste or religious background, is treated with dignity and respect. This goal must be actively pursued. 

Targeting the opposition

In this context, does it still make sense to label India as the largest and biggest democracy in the world, considering the challenges faced by civil society members? There is an alarming trend of intimidation and threats not only targeting members of civil society but also individuals like me. I have personally undertaken a 4000-kilometer journey across the country to raise awareness about these issues. I currently face 24 cases, including a criminal defamation judgment, which is unprecedented in Indian history, where I received the maximum sentence for criminal defamation. Interestingly, this sentencing conveniently coincided with the exact number of days required for my political disqualification. 

However, it is crucial to recognize that the spirit of democratic expression is deeply ingrained in India. The fight to preserve and uphold the democratic structure of our nation remains robust and ongoing. We are actively engaged in this struggle. While it’s a demanding battle, it’s important to emphasize that it has not been lost. We are in the midst of a process, a period of turbulence in our democratic structure.

Millions of people, particularly the young generation, believe passionately in the democratic principles that underpin our nation. They are committed to defending these principles with unwavering dedication. So, while it’s undoubtedly a challenging fight, it’s also an opportunity to reflect and reimagine our country.

India, like many other nations, faces moments of testing and transformation. I firmly believe that we will emerge from this test stronger and more resilient. This is an opportunity for us to address areas that need improvement and reaffirm our commitment to the democratic values that define our nation.

Embracing a complex history

The discussion around potentially renaming or rebranding India “Bharat” is currently making waves on social media. It’s essential to consider what significance such a change in the more popular name might hold, especially in the international context, and how it can impact India’s position in global discussions. In the Indian Constitution, both names, «India» and «Bharat», are used, emphasizing that India is a union of states. From a legal standpoint, there isn’t an issue with using either of these names, as both are perfectly acceptable and recognized.

However, there seems to be some controversy around the naming of our political coalition. When our coalition was named INDIA, it garnered attention and possibly stirred some reactions from the government. Consequently, they’ve contemplated changing the name of the country.

It’s worth noting that such decisions can sometimes seem driven by unconventional motivations. While changing the name may not necessarily serve a significant purpose, it’s an interesting development. It opens the door to various opinions and discussions. Indeed, there’s a deeper dimension to the debate surrounding the name change, one that touches on the very essence of history and identity. Altering the name of anything, including a country, can be seen as an attempt to erase or deny historical realities.

India’s history is intricate and multifaceted. It includes periods of colonial rule, a fierce struggle for independence, and a unique relationship with the English language. English, while originating in England, has evolved uniquely in India. It’s spoken by more Indians than English people themselves, and it bears the imprint of Indian culture, expressions, and nuances. This Indian version of English carries within it a vast tapestry of history, marked by moments of pain, joy, imagination, and resilience. Those advocating for a name change may, in a way, be seeking to wipe away or disconnect from this historical narrative, which is deeply woven into the fabric of the country.

It’s important to acknowledge and embrace the historical journey of a nation. India’s history includes periods of British colonial rule, lasting for centuries. Accepting this history, learning from it, and moving forward is a more constructive approach. 

The INDIA coalition in 2024: rediscovering the path of Indian democracy

The BJP diverts Hinduism from its foundations

The actions of the BJP do not align with the principles of Hinduism as outlined in Hindu texts such as the Geeta. Hinduism, as a religion, does not advocate the intimidation or harm of those who are weaker. I do not think that the term «Hindu nationalists» is an accurate description of the BJP’s actions. Their focus appears to be on attaining and retaining power at any cost. They are committed to preserving the existing social structure in India, which tends to favor the dominance of a select few individuals or groups.

Our coalition does not seek to dismantle or transform Hinduism. Instead, we aim to promote its core values and principles, which include tolerance, compassion, and respect for all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds. We believe in upholding the true essence of Hinduism and ensuring that the diverse fabric of our society is respected and protected.

Advocating social justice and economical equality : the role of the India Coalition

It is essential to dispel the notion that the majority overwhelmingly supports the BJP. In reality, the INDIA coalition garners substantial support, with approximately 60% of India’s population voting for our coalition, while the remaining 40% supports the BJP. This underscores the fallacy that the majority community is inherently aligned with the BJP.

The BJP polarizes society, fosters division, and promotes hatred. Their close ties with influential crony capitalists who fund and support their agenda further complicate the political landscape. It’s crucial to understand that Narendra Modi, while serving as the face of the BJP, is merely an instrument of a broader architectural structure. The RSS, for instance, holds substantial influence on the leadership. 

The key areas of focus for the INDIA coalition are addressing gross inequality, which sees a small percentage of individuals amassing enormous wealth while the majority grapples with poverty. Additionally, the coalition seeks to confront the paradox of economic growth coexisting with high unemployment rates, a pressing issue often overshadowed by growth statistics. Moreover, the India coalition places particular emphasis on empowering marginalized communities, including the lower castes and other backward classes, ensuring their representation and opportunities in governance and corporate sectors. A fundamental principle driving the coalition’s agenda is challenging the deeply rooted caste system and the associated hierarchy in Indian society. This entails advocating for equal access to institutions and opportunities for all, breaking down oppressive structures that have perpetuated poverty and misery.

Furthermore, as India undergoes a historic transition from rural to urban, the coalition recognizes the need to provide adequate support for this migration. This involves substantial investments in education and healthcare, as well as the assurance that the government does not shirk its responsibility in these critical areas. The coalition also envisions a minimum income guarantee to safeguard citizens from falling below a certain threshold, especially during this significant societal transformation.

It’s important to note that the India coalition’s commitment extends beyond economic considerations. It encompasses the promotion of social justice and the elimination of discrimination and injustice, including addressing the suffering caused by the caste system. No one, be it minorities, lower castes, or women, should feel marginalized or uncomfortable in India, and the coalition is resolutely committed to rectifying these issues.

Strengthening India’s institutions

The direction and imagination provided by the leadership of a country play a significant role in shaping the behavior and attitudes of the people. The current atmosphere reflects a sense of impunity, where individuals feel they can act without consequences. However, if the leadership were to change course and emphasize the importance of respecting others’ rights and diversity, behavior would shift accordingly. In the end, it’s about instilling a sense of accountability.

In the past years, there has been a concerning erosion of neutrality in Indian institutions. To rectify this, it may be necessary to set examples and ensure that those who have undermined the integrity of institutions face significant consequences for their actions. This sends a clear message that attacks on the foundational values of India will not go unpunished. This includes not only addressing the immediate issues but also safeguarding the long-term principles of secularism and inclusivity that are fundamental to the country’s identity.

Decentralization of Power and Monopolies: A New Path Forward

In envisioning a progressive India, we must first recognize the true essence of democratic governance, which lies in the principle of decentralization. It is vital for us to understand that decentralizing power doesn’t signify a diminished state role. Rather, it’s about the state engaging at multiple layers, ensuring governance is more inclusive and rooted in the actual needs of our communities.

From my experience as a Member of Parliament in Kerala, I have always held that any decision concerning my constituency must be forged through dialogue with local communities. A top-down approach often alienates the very people it seeks to serve. In essence, true democracy thrives when decisions are taken in consultation with the grassroots, eschewing arbitrary or unilateral actions.

On the topic of monopolies, while India has historically resisted pervasive monopolies, recent trends raise concerns. It’s alarming to witness the disproportionate influence of certain business figures, Mr. Adani being a prime example. Such extensive involvements in diverse sectors, coupled with troubling financial maneuvers, warrant our attention. When the close ties between high-ranking government officials and these entities come to light, it accentuates the urgency for oversight.

Government policies, undeniably, have far-reaching impacts on our economic landscape. Take the GST, for instance. While it was envisioned as a streamlined taxation system, it inadvertently posed challenges for small and medium-sized businesses, burdening them with higher compliance costs compared to the corporate giants. Similarly, the demonetization drive, though heralded as an anti-black money move, inadvertently paved the way for dominant players, sidelining our smaller enterprises. Such policy decisions can skew wealth distribution, benefiting a select few while leaving many grappling with challenges.

However, it’s heartening to note that not all policies tread this path. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and right-to-food initiatives are shining examples of how government interventions can ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth. Yet, the missteps during GST’s implementation and certain concessions during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the urgent need for more balanced policymaking.

In sum, wealth distribution in our great nation rests upon our policy choices. We’ve seen the dual facets of our decisions, ones that either uphold the principles of equity or inadvertently consolidate wealth. Moving forward, we must commit to informed, inclusive, and judicious policies, ensuring that the fruits of our collective progress are shared by all, not just an elite few.


  1. This text is a synthesis of remarks made by Rahul Gandhi at his reception at Sciences Po Paris, during discussions with Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Christophe Jaffrelot and students.
voir le planfermer
citer l'article +--

citer l'article


Decentralizing Democracy: The Rahul Gandhi Doctrine, Sep 2023,

lectures associées +--

lectures associées

notes et sources +
voir le planfermer