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ENGAGE WITH THE PEOPLE

Much like an aged, maimed elephant, India lurches without vision and direction into a foggy future. If the decline is to be checked and reversed, this nation needs its leaders to pay attention, work out effective formulae to ensure stability and engage with the people on both sides of the rich-poor divide. One of the most unfathomable realities in this country is the brazen neglect by the larger leadership of all citizens and their diverse needs and demands. Governance is non-existent while the country continues to hurtle into self-defeating confusion. All the negatives in a fast changing society are rising to the surface. But no leader will take it upon himself to forge the correctives that will ensure peace, calm and sanity.

It seems as though the country’s elected leaders have not understood what they have been elected to deliver. They are careless and arrogant, and have diluted the idea of a cohesive and entrepreneurial India. The Congress, as the oldest and most experienced party in the business of politics and ruling the nation, has become immune to the frightening truths that besiege India. The top brass of the party continues to believe that the bulk of the electorate are in rural India, and so the party machinery need only address the concerns of the rural poor and destitute and ignore the transformation that is overwhelming the other parts of the nation. To win, to rule and to take on the challenges of a culture that is caught in the cusp of change and growth, a political party must reach out and embrace the constituencies that sustain it. To address the concerns of only a portion of the electorate would be fatal.

Struggle ahead

Economic programmes and creative, exciting initiatives must continue to be implemented in rural India, but simultaneously the burgeoning middle class needs sharp attention. There must be a restructuring of the archaic colonial and command economy regulations and laws that continue to govern enterprise in modern times. An iconic, new-world politician must reach out to the people who are in search of a leader who will comprehend what is desperately needed for inclusive and substantive growth in 2013. Today, the energy of the middle class needs to be structured to enable it to work in an unfettered manner. Red-tapism and redundant laws have strangled legitimate business practices in India. One had hoped that the United Progressive Alliance government would rewrite the norms of business but both the UPA I and the UPA II dispensations failed miserably.

However, it is never too late. Ten years are a blip in the life of a nation. The machine must be trashed and new mechanisms put in its place. In India, the service sector that generated most of the gross domestic product must be liberated. Irrational rules have hindered the country from competing in the world. For a great civilization like India, it is a huge shame that the tourism industry has been crippled by babus and corrupt, careless administration. Benaras is unhygienic; the Taj Mahal sits amidst the mire and filth of a failed municipality; world heritage sites cry out loud for conservation, preservation and care; museums, with their many fine manifestations of India’s varied legacies and heritage, rot with neglect and disrespect. Moreover, the natural environment is being devastated and mauled.

Indians have demeaned themselves and their country. Their minds and souls have been brutalized. Greed and corruption have been celebrated. One hopes that the new generation of elected leaders will display the intellectual wherewithal to organize action and bring about the change required for a confident and viable future.