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LIFE IN A DARK TOWN

For those of us who have been saved from sitting on the gaddi, from being in a position of power, the inability to let go and retire is incomprehensible. Two days ago, when the prime minister flew to Assam to ‘renew’ his Rajya Sabha seat, I wondered why he gave up a god-given opportunity and the right timing to retire from politics a year ahead of the national elections to make way for a new, young and more dynamic leader, and regain respect for himself in the public domain, where he has been badly battered over the last few years. Correct timing in matters of staying or going is what separates a leader placed in a particular position from a statesman with the full political backing of his party and, more importantly, his constituents, who vote for the individual to stay in power.

India is in flux and deep distress. The democratic framework is being assaulted. Institutions have been destroyed to the point where they will need to be reinvented, redesigned and then restructured for a new age. The predictable rhetoric and excuses that are belted out by the ruling dispensation and the ridiculous level of protest by the opposition parties have debilitated and disabled India at home as well as across the borders. The bureaucracy appears intellectually inadequate and unable to think creatively to get itself and the government out of the knotted mesh they are captured in.

Because of a regressive and corrupt andher nagari, with no raja willing to stand apart and rock the boat by compelling radical reforms of the working mechanisms and bureaucratic structures, India is being punctured and ruptured, its people insulted. Suppressed anger and a profound disregard for those in public life who pretend to be committed to India, are bound to explode sooner than later and spill over into everyday life. It is maddening to watch national leaders operate as if all is well. Arrogance and unblinking postures confront us every changing day, smacking of insensitivity, ineptitude and intellectual deficiency.

Step out

Worse still are the regressive stances of the ruling authority, whether while dealing with the abuse of women and children or when handling matters of national and international import. Policemen get away with slapping women and preventing them from drinking with friends, as one recent example showed. This is a clear breach of the citizen’s fundamental right as enshrined in the Constitution, and no immediate action is taken against it. It is untenable for a State to act in this manner. Small wonder that the Supreme Court has begun to address issues that the executive is failing to do.

People are being arrested for posting opinions on social networking sites that may have hurt the egos of elected members of the legislative assemblies and Parliament who are there, in the first place, to serve the people and not to demand their subservience. Why should the citizens of India, or of any nation, stop thinking and questioning? Why must all citizens have a single, myopic view? Why are dissension and disagreement considered a crime by our intellectually insecure leaders? India is crumbling because of this selfish assault on all its strengths by a small bunch of privileged people leading insular lives in walled enclosures paid for by the people of India. And they are not ashamed of the betrayal.

If all the unnecessary perks and freebies are removed from the clutches of the elected representatives and the bureaucrats, the motivation is bound to change and those politically committed to India will emerge at the forefront to rule effectively. The comfort zone that the politician and the babu live in has disabled them. They need to step out, into the anarchic India they have crafted, without having taken the essential risks required for good governance.