Recent leadership in India has not understood the basic tenets of democracy. When democratically elected politicians fight elections to lead a nation and its people, they engage with their constituents and communicate their vision. The mandate of the people in a democratic framework, and the fact that leaders are not insular and exclusive, as in dictatorships or in feudal systems of governance, are what protect those men and women. In India circa 2012, the ruling, national dispensation in office in New Delhi is isolated and hidden from view, unable to connect, speak passionately and reach out.
Red battis flashing desperately on the roofs of ‘government cars’ ferrying the unknown, disconnected ‘leader’ from point to point; gunmen following those who need protection; that wailing siren renting the air to make way for men and women behind blackened car windows — these are some of the awful daily images that have angered honest ordinary Indians for years. These ‘protected’ individuals, sitting in office with a mandate to govern, who have failed to ensure the basic decorum of civil society, are running for cover today out of fear. It boggles the mind when one tries to comprehend the truth and reality of the complete disengagement of the ruling government from India. The ivory towers are beginning to come under attack because of decades of neglect and exploitation of goodwill.
Why don’t those in the frontline of this dreadful moment in recent history resign with grace? Why do they all hang on for dear life to their shaky and unstable ‘chairs’? Have they no self respect? Are they all intellectually maimed and incapable of moving out voluntarily and of doing something else with their time?
Correctives need to begin at home and the manual of correct conduct in high places must kick in first, well before manners and good sense are expected of the citizen at large. Take away the endless perks from the babu and the politician, and India will begin to get a far more committed breed of individuals into both these services — people who want to work and dedicate themselves to India, not to themselves.
Our home minister has emphatically stated that all curtains and tinted windows will be banned from buses. But, sir, what about all the fancy cars with blackened windows that ferry crooks, criminals with police records and hoodlums? Surely, all tinting must go, if that is what the home minister believes will lessen ‘rape’? We have moved from being seen as a great civilization to becoming the laughing stock of our neighbourhood and the world. We pose as a self-anointed leader in South Asia but have failed to make the capital of India safe for a woman in broad daylight. This is because our elite rulers are encased in a safety cordon at the cost of citizens. They and their families are just disengaged from the ground truths of the people and the country they live off.
This is as good a time as any to shift gears and lead by example. Step out into the streets that elected you and face the people. Explain yourselves. Pledge the correctives and prove yourself through rapid action. Nothing else will work. If this does not happen immediately, India will opt for anarchy on one end and ruthless, dictatorial governance on the other, and thereby polarize India and her diverse people. Beyond that, it can only be balkanization — division into little kingdoms ruled by satraps. Is that the legacy our ‘democrats’ want to leave behind? The energy of a new generation, its dreams and aspirations are being shattered with this callous and untenable governance. We need a leader who is a secular democrat with a creative mind if we are to prevent the idea of India from being diminished.