We are into the third quarter of 2012 and all that we have seen is rapid decline in everything from civil society to growth at all levels. The realty sector — over-stretched on borrowings, with the demand for housing at prevailing prices falling rapidly in these economically difficult times — is going through a rough patch, as is manufacturing, infrastructure and exports, because of archaic and constantly changing policies. The service sector too has been affected by similarly indecisive, long-term policies. India is in a muddle that makes no sense at all for bonafide investors and foreign direct investment.
Many decision-makers do not have a clue about the ministry they control. That allows manipulative bureaucrats to ‘control’ the minister and rule the roost. Laws and acts are besieged by endless addenda — most of them written in the distant past when the environment for business and growth was different and far more simple. Permissions cannot be granted easily for obvious requests unless the concerned babus are given some ‘remuneration’ to get legitimate jobs done. ‘Procedure’ has taken on the garb of ‘extortion’. Surely, good governance means that this nexus must be exposed and punished with a swift and heavy hand? What stops our leaders from doing so?
Illegalities blossom in the open. The fact that political leaders turn a blind eye to this truth is now established with empirical data. Indians have begun to define such realities as abetment to corruption. No Indian leader can claim to be clean. Indian people across all layers, ‘creamy’ and others, are worn out, waiting for some semblance of corrective being crafted. The disappointment is palpable and the neglect is fast becoming ‘culpable’, which will lead to a defeat in the polls!
With corporate India seen as putting its entire weight behind the candidature of Narendra Modi as prime minister, the Bharatiya Janata Party may have to give in to him as the candidate despite the struggle for power within the party among many contenders. Or will the party project Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, L.K. Advani, Jaswant Singh or whoever as the prime ministerial candidate? The BJP seems to have learnt well from the Congress. If, hypothetically, Modi is the person, whom will the Congress pit against him? Sushil Kumar Shinde, A.K. Antony, P. Chidambaram, Kamal Nath, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Sheila Dikshit or someone else? Who is that single national leader whose name is identified with that of the Congress in every nook of India? And, why would Nitish Kumar leave Bihar at this juncture in its history to head a tenuous coalition of disparate leaders for a short tenure in Delhi? Will the ‘third front’ be ruled by Naveen Patnaik, J. Jayalalithaa, Mayavati, Mulayam Singh, Mamata Banerjee, B.S. Yeddyurappa, Chandrababu Naidu or someone else? Where are we as a nation? Are we looking at the end of empire?
It is very difficult and disturbing for my generation, which saw and lived through earlier eras, to stomach the bitter fact that there is no single leader in India today who passionately lives, eats, speaks India as our founding fathers and Indira Gandhi did. Whether you supported their politics or were opposed to them, the fact remained that they put India up there on the pinnacle. Leaders thereon seemed to be far more committed to their personal survival and the kursi.
A deviation — in the times of the last Mughals, the political dilution notwithstanding, the ateliers of the arts were nurtured with love and care, given the rightful place in the ‘court’ of the people, and celebrated. Cut to circa 2012, and wherever you turn, degradation meets the eye and sullies the soul completely.