We are going through a terribly distressing and destructive moment. Instead of rising to the next stage by moving from 200 odd seats in Parliament to 280 plus, the Congress is caught in a bind. Because of loose, careless and incompetent governance, protected by a complete lack of accountability, with lobbyists infiltrating the insular edifice of the government, India is being maimed and prevented from moving ahead in this transparent information age. People caught in a time warp, unable to deal with new thinking on old issues, are calling the shots. We have been reduced to a volatile, potentially violent, failing republic, with unethical, and often unacceptable, politicking dominating areas of policy and governance.
Without a well-orchestrated strategy for more systematic reinventions, the present knee-jerk interventions seem painful. The standard excuse for non-delivery due to ‘coalition dharma’ is not acceptable at the cost of good governance. Surely, the test is to be able to carry partners on an ethical platform? Why don’t political leaders have the strength to resign and stand up for what they believe, without compromise? Is it the free house and car and other frills that accompany ‘office’ in India that they want to cling on to? Why have they become so fickle and unimaginative? Why have they degraded their profession into one based on opportunism and personal survival? Our founding fathers reached out to the people, spoke to them, addressed them regularly, often agreed to disagree on some issues, forged a consensus on others, and considered the nation a ‘whole’ entity.
Unfortunately, the general calibre has dipped on a scale of ten, endorsing an escalation of mediocrity. For the future, particularly in our neighbourhood, we are pitted against China and Southeast Asia as examples of reinvention, but are lagging behind in terms of determination, ideas and implementation. We are retroactive, we are corrupt, we are sly and we manipulate the truth by speaking half-truths as we take one step forward and 15 steps back. As citizens, we have been shamed into an angry silence.
Our cities and towns are stinking, with filth strewn all over public spaces. The governments do not administer or rule by law. Indians are sinking in the quagmire. Drinking water is, more often than not, poisonous; breathing the heavily polluted air in our towns and cities is dangerous for body and soul; walking on the streets infested with knife and gun-totting lumpen elements, dodging cars and other vehicles that break road rules with impunity while the traffic policemen chat incessantly on their cell-phones — all these have made life unlivable in the public domain. All academic, cultural and scientific institutions are wallowing in neglect; medical care ‘centres’ and hospitals are places that generate fatal illnesses; schools are handicapped by educational systems that are inappropriate and sub-standard; our extraordinary heritage and legacies, tangible and intangible, have been mutilated in the hands of government agencies and departments, obliterating all that was once ‘positive’.
Only in India are bribes demanded by the ‘authority’ for delivering and sanctioning what is legitimate; tourism in national parks is banned but khap panchayats continue to dictate terms; neither the executive nor the judiciary intervenes to set the rules straight; in fact, everything that makes man a social animal in civilized society has been banished from our lives due to oppressive and exclusive administration. We need integrity of purpose, and the time seems right for a radical overhaul. It is time our ‘leaders’ reverted back to being ordinary, neglected, exploited citizens of the ‘club of India’.