To have a general election spread over many weeks should never be repeated because it allows for all manner of volatile situations that damage the social equilibrium and test the patience of a nation. Rumours abound, betting is rampant, mud-slinging chokes sensibilities and integrity, as we know it, comes under threat. The net result will trigger even more horrors —horsetrading, revenge, malicious harassment and so on — whichever way the cookie crumbles. All this would pose a challenge to what a fresh mandate is supposed to do: cleanse the rot, start delivering on fresh commitments — restructuring all that which has not worked well to bring about inclusive and sensitive governance.
One tunes in to television programmes less and less because the high pitch and partisan anchoring raise the blood pressure and affect the nerves. Stress, verging on disgust, has forcefully intruded into the lives of the ordinary people. Over the last two months, the dilution of content and thought — laced with vitriolic abuse, lies and false accusations — on the small screen speaks volumes about where this electronic medium has taken us. Crony capitalism, crony politics, crony administration are the three curses of an India struggling to raise its head in this information age.
The new millennium has ushered in a new age, one that we have to embrace with integrity to use the media it has introduced into the public domain to help people and foster growth. By consciously taking up the agenda for one or the other business house or political dispensation, television channels have killed the legitimacy of what could have been a non-partisan platform and relegated the electronic media to the back-benches. There is nothing to be proud of when it comes to the world of Indian television.
The only saving grace is that in a diverse and plural land, this kind of cronyism is invariably shortlived. Equally, in a sea of disruptions and schisms, where rough waves temporarily override and dislodge the edifice of civility and integrity, the cleansing can also be decisive and dramatic. This inability to put decisions in a historical perspective and then adjust them to a changed world that is yearning for dynamic processes is what has been lost through the weak and corrupt governments that made it their business to insulate and protect what few believed was right. All democracies are bound to demand proper engagement and inclusive frameworks within which the administration, economy, social order and politics can remain robust. India offers none of what is imperative for such a movement forward for all sectors and sections of society.
When an insecure but burgeoning middle class wants to express its anguish about the corruption that has afflicted the political and economic sectors, it tends to latch on to any person or movement who/that reflects similar sentiments. But a movement is not a party, and when voters favour a ‘movement’, an inbuilt fear makes the leaders of the movement abdicate ‘power’ on flimsy grounds. The Delhi assembly elections threw up this very predicament. The city, which has been left in the lurch for months now, is disintegrating into a gargantuan slum. It is alarming to see one of India’s best cities descend into a quagmire in a matter of months.
Soon Delhi will compete with Mumbai for ‘slum status’. This disintegration is truly shameful. Overnight, India’s capital city has turned into a breeding ground for all manners of criminal activity. So much so that ‘cronyism’ has now been replaced by ‘criminal’. No one in power seems to be able to smell the coffee.