Updated: Sep 13
Amidst the plethora of right-wing divisions being made based on your religion, caste, and background, we are all often termed as "leftists" or "rightists". It’s absurd to see how prudent society has become amidst the political turmoil ongoing. The term "centrism" represents a solid, well-reasoned, balanced view of the world for an increasingly varied set of people from various backgrounds. Without being swayed by sentiments or steadfastness, the facts on the ground should put forth the agenda's priorities clearly.
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The genesis of Centrism: Centrism in politics is the tendency to take an ideologically moderate stance in order to avoid political extremes. A centrist downplays ideological appeals in favor of a practical or "catchall" party program, promoting moderate policies by striking a balance between the left and the right. Since the positions that are called centrist depend on particular policies of the opposing ideological poles that the moderates are attempting to reconcile, political centrism is thus, by definition, a relational concept.
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Centrism as a Pro: India is a peculiar democracy. The world can learn from the syncretism of our cultures. The fact that we coexist with many diverse cultures means that the occasional episodes of riots shouldn't overshadow the bigger picture; a common spirit, a sense of patriotism, and a desire for freedom were the main causes of India's religious syncretism, which has withstood the test of time. People came to the realization that in order to support the vision of a "Free India," they needed to put aside their differences in culture, ethnicity, religion, and community. Despite the serious harm, the British inflicted on our religious syncretism, we still firmly adhere to the idea of "Unity in Diversity." The platform of a free India is intended to be one where various religions can coexist peacefully. Whether it’s the linguistic barrier existing in our country or the division being made by society on the basis of caste and religion, India is a dynamic republic. The ideology that centrism promotes, amass’ all the points of view with proper equity and equality, thus curating all the individuals on the same scale. The fundamental issue is that both sides have already made up their minds. You can either be a member of the liberals (the Left-wing) who enjoy global intellectual power, or you can be the (Right-wing) which is often highlighted for its delirious idealogies . On the other hand, the centrist ideology paves the way for new ideologies to come into power without going completely right or left on the scale. In the face of ever-changing societal norms, an ideology free of extremist elements may prove beneficial to governance. We should consider our privileges carefully and make an effort to speak out on everything from an unbiased standpoint.
Centrism as a con: Like there are always two sides of a coin, likewise goes for centrism. The quest for balance has a neutralizing impact because both the "good" and the "evil" originate from the same source. So, while a centrist may not be pleased with the government's performance, they are also not furious. They assess the positive and negative aspects of society. When the box of negativity opens, news, facts, narratives, and tales are divided into positive and negative compartments, and then they search for stories that can bestow them with optimism. Wanting to feel better is absolutely not wrong. Everyone needs a way out. However, if the urge for optimism is employed to mask the impact of negative facts, it becomes a larger problem. Even though the centrist ideology balances out everything but still, as the saying goes, excess of everything is bad. It is imperative to have educated opinions without question. However, "balance," as we currently understand it, needs to be rethought because certain realities are inherently intractable. The welfare of particular groups cannot be used as an excuse to compensate aggrieved individuals.
Centrism and world: Unsurprisingly, the centrist seeks to stay in the middle of this spectrum, supporting change when it is necessary but avoiding sudden or drastic changes. Unlike the conservative, the centrist believes in societal progress and that, over the previous 500 years, people have made notable moral and economic advancements. The liberal is right that the past is full of errors, dogmas, and barbarism, while the conservative is right that it is full of wisdom for the future. Maybe this is a better way to put it: The past is like a shabby, abandoned, and decaying library; the volumes are filled with knowledge, but the structure is ruined by pests and rust. The centrists and conservatives both want to maintain the library. Centrism acknowledges that people have flaws and are frequently biassed, aggressive, and tribal in nature. But it also acknowledges that they are capable of being civil, tolerant, and prosocial. Although it is helpful to have a general skepticism about human nature and kindness toward individuals, which is especially important in the realm of public dialogue, this idealogy promotes civil, unrestricted public discourse since, generally speaking, it produces the best answers to challenging societal issues.
“My lesson from history is that if there is a strong moderate centrist party that can lead the country, there is no room for extremists from the right or left.” ~ Viktor Orban
( Prime Minister of Hungary)
“I'm not speaking in favor of killing innovation. I'm speaking in favor of centrist use of the market, which involves necessarily a considerable degree of regulation. Markets by themselves will get themselves inevitably into inequality and into their own destruction. It will happen again and again.” ~ Paul Samuelson
( American Economist)
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In today’s contemporary world, what comes out of most people's TVs is what they define as "centrism." The definition of centrism used by the main media outlets shapes it. People are kept in line by "centrism," within the restricted parameters of human behavior. The media and their peers control and manipulate the average citizen's perceptions and idealogy; it's not always about what's going on the ground or what's going behind the scenes; it's all about the content that the media is feeding you. The robust rise of social media has paved the way for lots of things, but the virulent part is that the average viewer, which is also the majority of the population, is someone who is going to agree and disagree on a particular decision on the basis of what the social media says or which decision their favorite news anchor supports. So, technically, the majority of us are already imbibed in centrism.
Here we get to see both sides of the coin, good and bad. The important thing is how we are going to perpetuate centrism in our paradigm. If centrism becomes a shield for the government to avoid criticism, then this is that paradigm of centrism that we should circumvent. If centrism is something that elevates inclusivity and an unbiased decision-making milieu, then this is that paradigm of centrism that needs to be carved out of the abyss. After all the brainstorming and seeing the dynamic history of India, centrism might be a viable choice for Indian democracy.
By Aftab Puttoo
Aftab Puttoo is a passionate YouTuber, Podcaster and a budding writer. He has been into the media niche for the past 5 years, interviewing Bureaucrats, Politicians, Media influencers and Bollywood celebrities.