The coming Great Turbulence – Justice Markandey Katju

On New Years Eve I wish I could wish happy new year to people, but I regret I cannot as I just cannot be a hypocrite.

The truth is that from this year India is going to enter into an era of what can be called the Great Turbulence, which in my estimate will last for 15-20 years, and in which crores of Indians will perish or suffer terribly. Let me explain.

India had a period of great Turbulence from 1707 when the last strong Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb died, to 1857 when after suppressing the Mutiny the British consolidated their rule over India.
But from 1857 till now it had relative peace and stability. Of course we had Partition violence in 1947, wars with China and Pakistan, etc but these were of short duration’s, and nothing compared to what horrors China went through from 1839 ( the Opium War ) to 1949 when the Communists came to power. During this interval China went through the Taiping Rebellion ( 1850-64 ), the Boxer Revolts ( 1899-1901 ), the collapse of the Qing ( Manchu ) dynasty in 1911 and rise of regional warlords, the Northern Expedition of the Kuomintang ( 1925 ) under Chiang Kai Shek, the Long March ( 1934-35 ) the Japanese invasion ( 1937 ) and slaughters in Nanking and Shanghai, the Civil War ( 1945-49 ) and ultimately the victory of the Red Army under Mao Tse Tung in 1949. Thereafter China has had a period of relative peace and stability.
In contrast, after the period of relative peace and stability in India from 1857 till now, we are going to now enter a period of tremendous turmoil and violence, which I call The Great Turbulence, which may last for 2 decades. It will be like the period of the later Mughals ( 1707-1857 ).
The catalyst for this is going to be the coming Lok Sabha elections in which no holds will be barred, as it is a fight for the Delhi Sultanate, and a study of Indian history reveals that rivers of blood have flown in these. Communal and caste violence will be unleashed on a massive scale and every dirty trick resorted to. My own guess is that no party will get anywhere near a majority in this election, and a coalition govt will be formed, with regional leaders as the kingmakers, like the Syed brothers after Aurangzeb’s death. There will be squabbling for lucrative portfolios, particularly for the Finance Ministry ( as was witnessed after the Karnataka Assembly election ), and the coalition partners will keep fighting among themselves as was witnessed in the Janta Party rule ( 1977-80 ) after the Emergency. An era like that of the later Mughals will begin, and as in the time of the later Mughals, regional satraps ( like Nizam ul Mulk, Sardar Jung or the Nawabs of Avadh, Murshidabad, etc ) will wield the real power, with the Prime Minister ( like the phantom later Mughal Emperors ) as their puppet.
But apart from the above, we may look at things from a larger perspective
1. Today India has all that is required to become a modern, highly industrialized nation with its people enjoying a high standard of living. We have a huge pool of technical talent ( our IT engineers are largely manning Silicon Valley, and Indian Professors are in Maths, Science and Engineering Departments in many American and European Universities ), and we have immense natural resources.
Yet despite this we have massive poverty, unemployment, child malnourishment, farmers suicides, almost total lack of healthcare and good education for our masses, etc. Consider the following :
12 million youth are entering our job market every year, but jobs are getting less ( as all reports indicate ). For a single govt job advertised, even for menial posts, there are usually a thousand applications. Consequently many youth will take to crime.
Between one third to one half of the world’s malnourished children are Indian children. Over 40% of our children are malnourished, 21% being ‘wasted’ i.e. their weight is too low relative to their height, indicating acute malnutrition ( according to Global Hunger Index ).

Over 3 lac farmers have committed suicide.

How long will this state of affairs continue ? Some kind of gigantic upheaval against it is bound to come
2. India is passing through a transitional period in our history, transition from feudal agricultural to modern industrial society. Presently we are neither totally feudal nor totally industrial but somewhere in between.
A transition period is always a very painful and turbulent period in history. If we study European history from the 16th to the 19th centuries ( when Europe was passing through its transition from feudalism to a modern society ) we find this period full of turmoil, wars, religious massacres, revolutions, chaos, intellectual ferment, etc. It was only after going through this fire that modern society emerged in Europe.
industrial revolution

India is presently going through this fire. We are going through a very painful period in our history ( which I guess will last for another 15-20 years ). For after all what is a transition ? It is a period when the old society is being uprooted and torn apart, when old values are being challenged, but a new society and new values have not yet been established. Can this be accomplished without pain and turbulence ? Certainly not..

3. Our national aim must be to create a new social and political order in which all our people get decent lives and enjoy a high standard of living. That is only possible if we have a high degree and widespread industrialization.
But if we industrialize we will become a big industrial rival for the industrialized countries. Will they permit this ?
Cost of labour is a big chunk of the total cost of production, and so if the cost of labour is less the cost of production is less, and consequently one can sell at a cheaper price and undersell his business rival.
After its revolution in 1949 China created a massive industrial base, and with their cheap labour the Chinese are able to undersell the whole world in consumer goods. Western supermarkets are packed with Chinese goods, because the Chinese can sell them at less than half the price of Western goods ( because Western labour is expensive ).
Indian labour is even cheaper than Chinese labour. So if we get fully industrialized we will undersell the whole world, even the Chinese. Who then will buy their costly goods when the same quality Indian goods will sell at one third the price ?
So the unwritten rule of the industrialized nations is : do not let India industrialize any further. For doing this, instigate caste, communal and other kinds of strife.
But our aim must be to become a highly industrialized country, for only then can we get rid of poverty, unemployment and our other social evils.

This conflict between our national goal and the effort of the industrialized countries ( to prevent further Indian industrialization ) will be another cause for the coming period of great turbulence.

Some people tell me I should not scare them. But if the truth scares you that is your problem. It will not cease to be the truth.

During this Great Turbulence ( as I call it ) some genuinely patriotic and modern minded leaders will emerge who will lead our people towards our national goal of creating a prosperous highly industrialized nation with its people enjoying a high standard of living. But before that is achieved great sacrifices will be required, and great pain endured.
By Justice Markandey Katju
former Judge, Supreme Court of India   
Disclaimer: The views expressed by  the writer former Justice of Supreme Court  Markandey Katju and commenters below do not reflect the views and policies of the
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