There is a great temptation to write about the Aam Aadmi Party yet again as the party members flounder with every political move they make, being unable to address issues, problems and obstacles in a mature, intelligent and political manner. As adult novices, they have begun to behave and act like their fellow travellers in the political arena. One senior colleague has been expelled from the party for ‘indiscipline’, and another was seen trying to jump the queue in a VIP gathering, much like the aam aadmis who break the line everywhere, from queues at railway stations to those at bus stops.
It is in the Indian DNA to step out of line, fight the rules, grab any vacant spot or space, — much like water let loose on a flat plain, meandering all over the place. If there is confusion in the mind of the political class, it is bound to be manifest in action and, therefore, in the governance of the nation. India seems to be moving from caste wars into the realm of class wars under the leadership of the AAP. Neither set of ‘wars’ makes any sense in a country aspiring to enter a new age and participate in the excitement of sharing knowledge and connectivity. Limited minds and mediocre leadership are India’s greatest loss at this point in time. The idea of India may implode in the hands of men and women who have not been able to create a new and effective model of inclusive growth, rooted in respect for all, integrity, and dignity of practice and processes.
On another note, browsing through a travel website, I was saddened by the fact that Singapore gets more tourists than does the Indian sub-continent with its various tangible and intangible legacies. It is shameful, to say the least. All governments, regardless of their political hues, have failed to deliver a simple infrastructure for dignified travel and tourism in this country. This is an industry that could employ thousands of young and old men and women, giving them a livelihood whereby pride and inclusivity would be generated to make Indians feel confident about themselves as well as about their civilization. This failure is inexcusable and demands rectification. There is not a single state in India where tourism revenue cannot be generated in vast quantities to add value to the state.
The other area crying out for attention is ‘culture’. Museums, archives and public libraries are the greatest repositories of our many traditions, philosophies, art and architecture. In the hands of state governments and sometimes of the Centre, these institutions have been neglected, vandalized and damaged. When I was researching a book on the creation of New Delhi, I could not access any material of consequence from the archives or from the offices of the Public Works Department and the urban affairs ministry. Every piece of documentation had to be accessed from the British Library. It came with extraordinary ease, as it should be in a democracy. It is nothing short of scandalous that we cannot delve into our own bhandaars, our legacies and inheritances.
Administered and operated by academically insecure babus, who have no real comprehension of what is in their custody, our museums rot. If these great repositories of the best of India are cleaned up, pride would surge and despair would give way to a sense of belonging. The political administration would be separated from the extraordinary strengths of this layered country, allowing citizens to feel rooted and proud in spite of the fumbling politics. That sense of belonging would ignite the individual need to participate in national enterprises in a sensible way.
Will we ever have a selfless leader who understands this simple truth? Why is this obvious reality so difficult to comprehend?