Monday, 8 August 2011

Keep the faith.

Democracy has always been the jewel in the crown of India. Almost every country which got independence after the Second World War, could not sustain the uninterrupted democratic process. India was the only shining exception where Parliamentary democracy thrived and the military always remained subservient to the elected civilian government. An independent judiciary along with an independent Election Commission made India a complete working democracy.

An integral part of democracy are the politicians whom the people elect to govern themselves. The people of India have always expressed extreme emotions towards political leaders, ranging from eulogizing dynasties to being terribly cynical of self serving Netas. Due to various instances of misrule by our politicians, there has been expression of outrage and enormous anger by the people. But the things have gone so bad in the last few years that the people routinely treat our elected leaders with utter contempt and disdain. The respect which our political class somehow maintained in spite of terrible governance record has now been almost totally eroded. The main reason for this scorn is the corruption among our political class and the almost open loot of the public money.

As we are aware that for more than four decades of our independent existence, socialism was the economic system we had adopted. Socialism included state control of almost every part of the economy ostensibly to help the poor masses. In a closed; state controlled economy, hardly any wealth was generated and India remained a country with more than three quarters of the population in appalling poverty. The infrastructure was creaky and even basic amenities like clean drinking water and proper housing; even in cities was a luxury. Consumers had to buy whatever the government offered since the right to pick and choose commodities was non existent. The lack of wealth creation due to skewed economic policies resulted in neglect of even critical areas like defence, education and health care. Somehow we believed our leaders that India is an agriculture oriented economy and that western capitalist models were not fit for us. We as a nation excelled in almost nothing and with no economic progress in sight, the people were busy in religious, linguistic, casteist, sectarian and other similar divisive issues. But all that changed dramatically in early 1990’s when our economy was in dire straits and government had no money to pay its bills. Therefore, rather reluctantly we had to undertake economic reforms and the economy was opened up. The result was that enormous amount of wealth was generated and poverty figures were almost halved in the last twenty years. The face of the nation changed and then came the biggest byproduct of economic boom; “Corruption of monumental proportions”.

India has witnessed corruption scandals with alarming regularity in the last few years. The morals of the people in power eroded rapidly along with a rapidly growing economy. The present UPA government led by eminent economist Dr.Manmohan Singh has crossed all limits of moral propriety. Dr.Manmohan Singh has been awfully ineffective in tackling corruption among his ministers. The combined worth of present scams is around 2,50,000 crores. The worst part is that various revelations in the media have established the fact that Dr.Singh was very much aware of the wrongdoings of his ministers but he somehow chose to remain mum and looked the other way. PM ignored the nefarious activities of his former telecom minister A.Raja, since he had to keep his ally, DMK happy. The result was that A.Raja looted the exchequer in broad light and PM did not act till the media pressurized and Supreme Court intervened. Thankfully, Raja and his corporate cronies are in jail. But what about the corruption of Dr.Singh’s own party ministers? He surely had no coalition compulsions so why he didn’t act against the likes of Suresh Kalmadi and waited for media and apex court to intervene? Now here is another paradox. Dr.Manmohan Singh is the PM but is not the President of the Congress party, which of course is Sonia Gandhi. To make matters worse, Sonia Gandhi is also the UPA chairperson and the head of powerful National Advisory Council. Therefore it is amply clear that the real power is in the hands of Sonia Gandhi and her coterie and that Dr.Singh is just a figure head. So what's happening is that Sonia Gandhi has all the powers but Dr.Singh has all the responsibility! With such a power set up, little wonder that even the Congress ministers and MP’s choose to by pass the PM and this in turn has further encouraged  corruption.  

By bringing in a weak Lok Pal bill, the government has literally added insult to injury. The arrogance of power among the senior Congress ministers is palpable. They are mocking the people who are questioning them as if to tell them that you can’t touch us before 2014 when the next general elections are due. The failure of ineffective Dr.Singh and all powerful Sonia Gandhi, to tackle corruption has led to this mass anger against the political class which in turn is not a healthy sign for our democracy. I think people should keep faith in democratic procedures and with the help of a vigilant media along with an independent judiciary, corrupt politicians and their cronies should be pressurized relentlessly till they are brought to justice. We have a very long fight on our hands and we should remember that the will of the people is Supreme in a democracy.

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