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GROWING SENSE OF DOOM

Power — and the sense of invincibility that those in power attribute to themselves — can be a deadly disease that can corrupt them completely. We have been assaulted by misdemeanours of the powerful across the board. The common thread that runs through these happenings is that of the law courts not being allowed to examine the conflicting positions to determine the truth, and to legally pronounce the verdicts on what are deviations from the laws of this land. People are being declared guilty in media reports before the legal trials even begin, in cases such as those involving 2G or the Aam Aadmi Party.

The khap panchayats vociferously declare what is right and wrong, ignoring the processes of jurisprudence, and therefore, the courts of law. This is a rather strange and dangerous way of circumventing the mechanisms of the law on critical issues that would shape the future of a new generation and ensure the upholding of human rights, as well as individual rights. Eminent jurists are silent on these larger fundamentals.

Election rhetoric gets increasingly unpleasant and sends out signals that embarrass and disturb the bulk of honest voters, excluding those men and women who egg on their ‘leaders’ as sycophants looking for future benefits. Party spokespeople are predictable, unintelligent and dull. Manifestos contain the same old promises, which were made decades ago. Betrayal is evident from the reality on the ground. No infrastructure has been provided by the State to assist the phenomenal growth of enterprise that has generated huge wealth. Instead of infrastructure and growth running in parallel, entrepreneurship has broken all records when compared to what the State and the elected representatives have delivered.

Bad practice

The humongous failure is there for all to see. It is all arbitrary and illegitimate, often blatantly illegal. Harassment and extortion are what the State functionaries are adept at. Starting with something as innocuous as having to deal with a frustrated and greedy customs official to the critical areas of income tax collection, corruption and unintelligent assessment of what is correct and what is not plagues all honest citizens. Those who break the law have a battery of people — a team with specific responsibilities — who start from the bottom of the pyramid of government and move to the top, clearing the obstacles that come in their way, using all means at their disposal. There is no attempt to debrief and re-educate the babu to do his job with dignity, and not in the high-handed manner symptomatic of the command economy and dictatorships. The bureaucracy needs an overhaul starting with its mind and attitude. It is imperative to ‘de-corrupt’ the men and women who rule and are powerful.

India is doomed till it reinvents itself, starting with the political and administrative class. It is the most damaging ‘caste’ in the hierarchy of this country. Outside of it, there is growth, change and a flowering of creativity. Wherever one looks and reaches out to — fashion, craft, contemporary art, music, dance, literature, film, architecture, design, travel and leisure, the private sector hotels, resorts and restaurants, the private medical sector, private think tanks, private educational and cultural institutions, the social sector and the NGOs — India is upgrading itself to international standards by the minute. There is a collective aspiration to break new ground, there is energy, vitality, creativity and commitment. But the State and its archaic laws and ridiculous, redundant regulations pull down all successful enterprise to its own abysmal level of zero growth, no change and no probity. Doomed if you do and doomed if you do not.