The general elections have been announced. In the corridors of government, all decision-making has ceased and life is in limbo. Members of the political class are in battle gear as they tear one another apart with combative rhetoric and, often, by throwing stones and hurling objects at one another. Dialogue seems to have vanished from the play of politics. An astute India is watching the spectacle that has already begun, amused by the juvenile and immature antics that some new entrants into the larger ‘game’ are playing. Soon they will learn that politics today demands good governance for the many layered socio-economic polity that is India. The patience of this fast-maturing State has reached the point of no return where its constituents expect leaders to lead and deliver a robust civil society with contemporary mechanisms ruled by new laws.
The only way to deal with a recent past that has been fraught with many question marks, scams and mismanagement which have overwhelmed the good work done during the last five years, is to look forward with hope that the next dispensation will take the mood of this nation seriously, respect it and fast forward correctives that will bail India out of its present crisis. Despair must give way to hope in the immediate future. One way of emphasizing the importance of change in methodologies is by inducting new and unusual ideas into an ageing framework. Taking risks at this moment in our contemporary reality can break through the mire that has solidified, and bring the excitement of possible change involving the people who have been neglected over the last many decades.
The grand old Congress, experienced and with a track record, could have seen the writing on the wall and reinvented itself. Instead, it wallowed in insular denial and will possibly have to pay a price for its intellectual laziness, its lack of commitment to creating alternative laws to handle economic re-structuring and all that happened in its wake. That easy option of sitting on a high horse, sphinx-like, unwilling to engage with the generational churning that was happening and unwilling to empower those who were generating wealth and growth through their inherent skills and expertise, resulted in the radical dilution of its mandate. The trust deficit has become gargantuan in scale.
This complete degradation has impacted India negatively because it has allowed for a systemic breakdown that will need a heroic application of mind to be restored. It has also polarized politics by setting the stage for a possible landslide in favour of one national party and its partners or for a fractured and motley group of parties invoking ‘secularism’. The balanced democratic structure of treasury benches and a strong Opposition that sits in a Parliament and debates national issues, then passes legislations that endorse nation building and more, is virtually non-existent at this time. It clearly needs to be activated.
India is on tenterhooks. Will the mandate secure stability and good governance? Will it embrace the diversity of India and unify the aspirations of a billion people? Will it enunciate new, progressive laws to enhance the inherent entrepreneurial skills? Will it disband the colonial laws that continue to rule us? Will it act with compassion as it reorders the systemic procedures to bring transparency into governance? If the intention is palpable, India will begin to have faith in the future.
And, in the end, it is faith and trust in leadership that become the engine of change and growth. Parochial politicking is a tactic of the past. It needs to be shed to allow for a new skin to grow and protect the fragility of the idea of this great civilization.