The Telegraph
Friday , November 30 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Keeping the electronic voting machines — used for the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh on November 4 — sealed for a period of nearly seven weeks is absurd. It makes India look like a country where votes cannot be counted on time. The leadership and the bureaucracy of the country are making the most of this long wait; they are putting off going back to work. Himachal Pradesh has lost a great deal of time that could have been spent working. The people and their development projects have suffered. These events are symptomatic of present day India. The country is steeped in lethargy and ineptitude at a time when it could have been propelled by a dynamic leadership and clean governance into a privileged position in the world. It could have truly been an emergent power.

Caring for the people of the country does not seem to concern those who govern the nation. Intrigue, futile verbal clashes, hypocrisy, blatant greed for power and money, nepotism and envy seem to be the only things that elected leaders and administrators are interested in. These people are a far cry from the men and women who led the nation a long time ago. The country seems to be mired in filth. Take, for example, the prestigious centre of New Delhi, Connaught Place (re-named Rajiv Chowk even though it is circular in shape and not a square). It was dug up and left in that condition from well before the Commonwealth Games in 2010. No one has ensured the completion of the job. These realities are a constant reminder of the levels of corruption that have seeped into the body politic.

Ivory towers

The leaders of the country live in their ivory towers and do not care for the realities that surround them, as long as they and their families are not affected. No one takes them to task. These attitudes will, sooner rather than later, unleash anger and protests that will result in chaos. It will be difficult to maintain the rule of law then.

One wonders why the privileged class of politicians and babus are testing the people’s patience. They seem to be in complete denial, and cannot see the writing on the wall. The silent curse of the people could be devastating for them. The tribal areas in various parts of the country are up in arms against the State. This happened because no one in positions of power listened to their pleas for decades. Politicians and leaders sat up and took notice once the violence began. Even so, they have been unable to bring about peace. No one trusts the government and its agencies because, in recent years, the same institutions have let the country down.

It must be asked why those responsible for governance are not correcting these ills. The citizens of India, including those responsible for the security of the leadership of the country, need to elect representatives who will genuinely look after the nation’s needs. The protection given to leaders have made them arrogant and complacent; this has debilitated the service and the political class. This reality may well have nurtured the corruption they are accused of. Untenable governance with zero accountability has failed the country. The practice of passing the buck and shirking responsibility has been destructive. The people need new ideas, honesty and sane methods of action at the top, if India is to be protected from disintegration.

If the government is bereft of new ideas and unable to operate with dignity and efficiency, it must bring in new entrants to accelerate change, growth and delivery. The deep insecurity that comes with the inability to deal with a changing world seems to have engulfed the babus in India, who then scramble around to avoid being exposed. They cannot even ensure that election results are declared on time.