The Telegraph
Tuesday , February 26 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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India disables its citizens, and has forgotten how to empower the people of this great civilization. This is the saddest, but most palpable, truth of this time and age. We have descended to rock-bottom level of governance. The State has ceased to empower, respect and celebrate the unmatched human resources and skills, both physical and intellectual, and has, in fact, consciously degraded the environment, disallowing the growth of vibrant ideas and initiatives that could have made India a world power. The old and tired minds that hang on to the reins of power for dear life, men and women disconnected with a changed world that is ruled by a set of new processes, mechanisms and delivery systems, are setting India back in time by their unwillingness to pass the baton.

Commitment to the idea of India, its plurality and diversity, its resilience and abiding patience in the face of repression and neglect from ruling dispensations, both political and administrative, has become so diluted that it makes one shudder in distress. What surprises me is the fact that the collective leadership is blind to the horrors that hit the citizens in the face. The lack of concern is the worst strain of ‘corruption’ that has invaded the public and the private domains. This trait exposes the absence of ethics, values and commitment of India’s elected leaders.

The lazy minds that rule us are unable to restructure the laws so as to promote enterprise that can bring about socio-economic stability. These laws need to be replaced immediately to stall the suicidal decline that India is experiencing at this moment. The administrative class, from top to bottom, must be held accountable for each action that affects the public at large.

Dishonesty pays

The callous disregard for those who are honest and abide by the law has to stop. It is unfortunate that in India if you file your tax returns correctly, the tax officer is suspicious because you have not offered a bribe to fudge the calculations. This is an affront to individual honesty and integrity. There is no excuse whatsoever for this lax and untenable reality that assaults the honest among us.

One way of addressing this problem is to create a level field of play and to come down heavily on defaulters in the administrative service who ask for, and merrily accept, bribes. The reformation must begin from within the government, and has to be led by a new breed of political leaders. The political class deciding not to penalize the administrative class is an offence in itself.

The report card of the Manmohan Singh government is truly disappointing. Here was an opportunity for a prime minister to embrace India in its entirety as his constituency and lead the process of reforming the administration and the judiciary as well as fine-tune the Constitution to deal with a changed time.

Had he been politically proactive, he would have succeeded in placing India on a reformed legal and administrative trajectory after having reconstructed the colonial parameters and laws. This would have made his economic reforms far more inclusive. To force economic reforms on a corroded, colonial and command economy can only lead to corrupt practices because these laws disable freedom and enterprise, creativity and change.

All right-thinking people know this truth. The babu, however, knows that in the present ‘working’ environment, it is easy to disable, rule the roost, endorse mediocrity and corruption, and, thereby, save himself from being exposed for inept governance. India has been disabled and maimed.