In order to elucidate what went wrong with modern India, we have to go back to roots of modern Hinduism and how it came to be.
Contrary to what some dimwitted Hindu nationalists and deranged Buddhist chauvinists say, there was no dichotomy between Hinduism and Buddhism particularly since Ashoka made Buddhism a state religion.
In general by assuming there was a seperation between "Brahminical" Hinduism and "egalitarian" Buddhism one grossly imposes Biblical notions of religious differences onto the Dharmic faiths
In general the best Brahmins such as Nagarjuna were Buddhist as were the best Kshatriyas. Buddhism was not responsible for the decline of the Mauryas no more than Christianity was responsible for the decline of Rome.
An empire declines and falls for various reasons. It just happens that Buddhism's rise coincided with Mauryas decline and Christianity with Rome's. Both these faiths just fed on the corpses by appropriating the elites.
We would have to ignore the silly secularist propaganda about Emperor Ashoka on whose model much of modern India is based and discuss him in a honest fashion. Ashoka was known as very cruel and bloodthirsty ruler before his so called repentence over the casualties from the Kalinga war. Think of him as a Bukka Reddy (the psychotic character from the movie Rakta Charitra) rather than a practical and fair minded Chandragupta Maurya. And for this proto Bukka Reddy provide him with the most powerful military in the world at the time.
Ashoka was more like this guy
And less like this guy , yes even after Kalinga
Of course he will itch to use it to put it mildly. Traditionally all Indian kings wished to be called Chakravartin ie upholder of the World Order. This entailed conquering pretty much all of Bharatavarsha which in those also included modern Pakistan, Afghanistan,Southern Uzbekistan, Eastern Iran,Nepal, small parts of Tibet and China as well as Bangladesh. In other words the entire Indian subcontinent!
No small task! How would a king how time for foreign conquests when he has to contend with constant rebellions and wars in his own realm!
The best way to achieve that was not to antagonize and humiliate the rulers or the populace after conquest was complete. Usually the conquered kings paid tribute, perhaps a governor from the victorious state was appointed but barely visible and everything would proceed as before.
But not our Ashoka! He inflicted incredible cruelties and massacres especially in the Southern kingdoms and frontier states.
His repentance for the many dead in the Kalinga war is just overblown nonsense. A little more than a PR stunt and face saving measure similar to Alexander's strategic retreat from the forces of Magadha.
A slaughter of that scale would only outrage the principled Vedic people who would by then have enough of this beast and tyrant and would very well unite and rebel against him which he would difficulty supressing.
By converting to Buddhism he was able to stand above the fray and distance himself from his actions and hoodwink the populace into believing that he was a changed man.
But was he ? He had Jainas executed because they very justifiably believed that Buddha followed in the footsteps of Mahavira and indeed they commissioned a painting showing Buddha prostrating to Mahavira.
He banned meat eating in the kingdom while he feasted on deer and peacock.
He sent Buddhist missionaries all over the known world proclaiming the glories of Buddha AND Ashoka. Not necessarily in that order.
No conquered province dared revolt during his post Buddhist epiphany.
He had his son Kunal ,the governor of Punjab, blinded when his mentally unbalanced Sri Lankan wife after Kunal(her step son) rejected her advances and like the proverbial woman scorned she claimed that he was plotting against Ashoka.
In other words ,Ashoka was most likely born a monster, lived like a monster before and after his Buddhist PR stunt and died a monster. Thereby setting the seeds for rebellion amongst his more rebellious provinces and bringing a premature end to the empire that Chandragupta Maurya had created not just by force of strength in a midst of heightened nationalist feeling due to the Macedonian invasions and Persian example. But also through strategic alliances, responsible and efficient governance. And even he was in constant fear of assassination.
One wonders if CGMs turning to Jain asceticism at the premature end of his reign(he was barely 50) had more to do with yielding to the wishes of his adversaries and retiring from politics thereby preserving his empire than with actually become a devotee of Mahavira
Hmm...Ashoka following in the footsteps of his illustrious grandfather by adopting a allegedly pacific creed which enabled both of them to hang on to an empire.
Doesn't it seem even vaguely suspicious? Are our historians and analysts so mind numbingly sentimental that they swallow such nonsense hook line and sinker?
I think we all know the answer to that.
Ultimately the loathsome Nehru, whose knowledge or esteem of Hinduism wasn't much greater than a curious and yet vaguely racist English Indophile from the 1900s was to adopt much of Ashokas imagery and doctrines for the newly formed republic of India. Indeed the secular Nehru imagined himself as an incarnation of sorts of the secular Ashoka. Say what you want of Ashoka, he wasnt an effete wannabe like Nehru, Ashoka would likely had Nehru beheaded on the spot if the latter dared compare himself with him.
Ashoka had built a strong state on the basis of terror than conciliation and that is why the empire fell apart.
It had nothing to do with Savarkar unhinged anti Buddhist diatribe about Buddhists being traitors and pacifists. VD Savarkar did some good work on Indian history but his anti Buddhist ranting in Six Glorious Epochs in Indian history really hurt his credibility
Pushyamitra Sunga, the Maurya general who staged and couped and vanquished the Maurya dynasty was no angel. But neither was he the demon that Buddhist propagandists make him out to be. There is no evidence of Buddhist persecution under his watch. Indeed Buddhist likely flourished though they lack the extensive patronage and favoritism of Ashoka. It is an unfortunate aspect of human nature that when people accustomed to a favored status end up finding themselves on a more level playing field view such developments as persecution. See Sikhs in India and Tamils in Sri Lanka ,the pets of the British who after independence in the respective countries started seperatist terrorist movements because the majority were trying to achieve proportionate representation.
In more recent times, as the usually perceptive Steve Sailer pointed out , all this talk of Russian anti Semitism stems from the fact that Jews are doing only slightly worse financially in Russia under Putin than under Yelstin.
Dont let Buddhist historians fool you, this is exactly the situation with Pushyamitra and the Buddhists.
I may annoy some Hindu nationalists by saying by Vedic criteria of statesmanship, Akbar was a much better example than Ashoka as the foundation for his rule was not sheer terror but conciliation and bestowing relative autonomy over whom he was victorious.
The modern Indian republic owes its model more to Ashoka than Akbar . And that is unfortunate. Throw in the crank British notions of martial races which both the Gujjar Nehru and Gandhi subscribed to (which the Tamil and Bengali recruiting Subhash Chandra Bose didnt) and you have an oppressed ,seething peoples whose autonomy ,independence and traditions were trampled on by the Leviathan on the new swarthier version of the British Raj-the Oxbridge educated Indian beaureucrats
Like Ashoka , they hide behind the veneer of pacifism, this time Gandhian instead of Buddhist though liberally using Buddhist imagery such as the wheel and 4 headed lion as totems of the Indian state , to do their dirty work of coarsest centralization and dismissal of regional pride.
After all what is a "governor" of a state if not a military dictator in waiting? Is it any coincidence that a governor never hails or is the same dominant ethnic group of the state to which he is assigned?
If Indians today are a mediocre people it is because they do not see why they should thrive in the name of an overbearing and coarse ideological entity for which they have little affection.
The republic of India is kleptocratic in instinct, tyrannical by habit and coarsely modernist from inclination.
The Indian people are not interested in being "Indian" , why keep forcing this charade of unity on them.
See how they light up when you mention their caste,village, kingdom to which their ancestors were affiliated, home city and how much pride they take in it.
Abolishing royal families or stripping their power and wealth to such a degree that they remain just tourist attractions was terribly damaging not just to the dignity of these ancient families but also to the morale of those who served them. Believe it or not the great chunk of them were not oppressed peasants!
The time has come to revive kingdoms and impart on them some real power. Of course no one is realistically suggesting that the Chola,Chalukyas or Pratiharas make a comeback in the sense of controlling vast amount of territories they once did. But let them something more than just a prefix for a Sheraton or a Railway route
Such kingdoms would not be completely sovereign but pay fealty to a decentralized Indian state by way of taxes and soldiers.
Keep everything local.
I am not only against repealing article 370 but let all states/pseudo kingdoms have this article 370 if they so wish. Note that Kashmir, Punjab , North east and Goa before 1960 were lacking in public defecators, filthy chaotic streets, sclerotic economies and illiterate and semi barbaric rabble.
Let the new royalty deal with rubbish as they see fit and if they so please prevent or atleast have a strict quota from other less desirable states
Indians were brave, honorable, industrious, intelligent, persevering, innovative,clean, frugal, courageous, attractive and organized when they were Cholas,Cheras,Pandyas,Kakatiyas,Mauryas, Yaudheyas,Palas, Chalukyas,Satavahanas and so on.
They are anything but those aforementioned adjectives under the current despotic "republic" of India. Are we willing to pay so high a price just because we wish to be considered "democratic" and "modern"?