Prior to its ignominious collapse, few thought that the USSR would ever fall. It was militarily mighty, it had large gold reserves and it was self-sufficient in terms of its soil producing some of the world’s most important natural resources. And yet due to mismanagement, poor leadership, economic idiocy and finally cultural infiltration from external forces, the country collapsed and none of its former members including the Russian Federation have recovered.
As a Cold War ally of Russia, one would think that India might be aware of the fact that it is even more susceptible to a Soviet style collapse than the actually USSR was. Instead however, Indian politicians are displaying all the misplaced confidence of a Soviet official in the mid-1980s who could not bring himself to admit that there was a dire crisis on the horizon.
India’s problems read like an exaggeration of the USSR’s very real problems during its final decade. Too much political centralisation for an ethno-linguistically and religious diverse state combined with an economy that has been too slow to diversify are indeed very real problems. Ironically, just as India’s politics is overly centralised, its economy remains far too de-centralised. Finally, because India is still classed as a developing country quite unlike the USSR, the danger of foreign infiltration is all the more pressing.
But whilst nationalist Indian leaders scapegoat Muslims, Pakistanis, Kashmiris and Dalits for India’s problems, the truth is that India’s greatest enemy at a cultural level is that which New Delhi considers an ally.
Whilst Pakistan’s greatest challenges come from the failed state located to its north-west, India’s greatest challenge come from a failure of both its secular and nationalistic/Hindutva forces to achieve political balance. During the many decades of rule by the secular Congress,party India suffered from extreme economic woe brought about by an aversion among many Indian secularists to market reforms.
Today however, India’s BJP Hindutva leaders have become so focused on Muslims and Pakistanis as public boogie men that they are making a grave error in importing that which they believe to be un-Islamic in order prove a false historical narrative which asserts that it was the Islamic history of south Asia that was ultimately a most foreign phenomenon. This foolhardiness has seen many BJP supporters become seduced by a narrative which indicates that modern India is somehow the more conservative extension of an otherwise liberal-left western empire – one that has perhaps surprisingly been built on the torching of the west’s own Christian morality which has been sacrificed on the bonfire of cosmopolitan liberalism.
But even at a time when millions in the west are turning their backs on liberalism and attempting to force their societies to become reacquainted with traditional morality, India is importing the western technologies that are specifically used to spread liberalism in the way that a deadly fungus spreads among otherwise healthy vegetation.
It is not Muslims, Pakistanis or Dalits that seek to turn India’s next generations into drug addicted, workshy, gluttonous sex perverts, it is western technology and entertainment industries which are actively working to do so and it is the duty of every Indian patriot to oppose such forces just as it is the duty of patriots in all countries to oppose such forces.
The solution for India is two-fold. First of all, India should work with rather than against China in developing indigenous social-media and entertainment distribution software that is free from the cosmopolitan liberal agenda. Secondly, in order to prevent post-Soviet style sectarianism from becoming the rule of the day throughout India, the country must look to Ottoman history for a solution.
The Ottoman Empire was not only one of the world’s most successful sovereign entities of early modern history whose influence is still felt around the world today, but the Ottoman Empire was also one of the world’s most successful multi-ethnic/multi-confessional sovereigns. Although the collapse of the Ottoman Empire unleashed waves of sectarianism as did the collapse of the USSR, it is wise to remember that the Ottoman Empire was for the vast majority of its long existence, an internally peaceful sovereign unit.
One of the keys to this success was the Millet system. Whilst modern multi-ethnic/multi-religious/multi-lingual states tend to divided and subdivide their sovereign territory in strictly geographical terms, the Ottomans wisely divided their Empire not only by land but also by culture along confessional lines.
Under the Millet system the main confessional (in some cases ethno-confessional) groups of the Ottoman Empire had their own legal structures throughout the empire. Thus, irrespective of where in the Ottoman Empire a non-Muslim subject lived, one came under the jurisdiction of one of the following Millets: Rum Millet (Orthodox Christians), Armenian Millet, Jewish Millet. Later additional Millets were formed including a Syriac Catholic and Latin Millet as well as other smaller Millets.
On the whole, one saw an Ottoman Empire in which the majority of Muslim subjects (whether Turk, Arab or other ethnicities) were governed directly by Ottoman Law whilst non-Muslim subjects fell under the jurisdiction of Millets whose confessional/ethno-confessional leaders were responsible for tax and finance, law enforcement, a judicial system, education and the local promotion of religion and culture. In exchange for this confessional/ethno-confessional autonomy, all the Sublime Porte required in return was loyalty among all her subjects and the provision of a specific portion of tax revenue directed to the Porte.
This system helped shield the Ottoman Empire from foreign meddling whilst it helped to bind together a highly confessionally and ethnically diverse sovereign in a manner that for centuries remained largely peaceful.
At a time when much of the west is beginning to falter among sectarian lines and with the example of the Soviet collapse there for all to see, it is foolhardy for Indian leaders to think that business as usual can continue into the next decades.
If peace is to prevail in south Asia, India should work to shield itself from foreign cultural interference and instead work to build a modern day version of the Millet system suited to south Asian characteristics. This would help to reduce tensions between Hindu and Muslim, Dalits and those of higher castes, north and south, whilst assuring that other minority groups including Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians also attain a measure of autonomy along Ottoman lines. It would likewise allow India to end the long charade of its secular constitution and instead to develop Ottoman characteristics in which the majoritarian faction can live in a realistic peace with all of India’s many diverse minority groups.
Vengeful historians often look to the final decades of the Ottoman Empire and point to its failures. They however neglect to mention that the reason behind the fall of the Ottoman Empire was a combination of foreign interference and a surrendering of the economic sovereignty that previously defined the empire in its glory days.
If India were to adopt a Millet system, everything form the Kashmir crisis to sectarian strife could begin to get solved using time tested methods from one of the most successful state in history.