The Telegraph
Friday , February 21 , 2014
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What an unsettling week this has been. There were the most outrageous scenes in Parliament that embarrassed one to the core of one’s being. Elected representatives insulted India’s democracy and its processes, leaving the citizens appalled. Small wonder that there is supreme disgust towards the ruling classes, which have lost their credibility, diluted their integrity and are assumed to be untrustworthy, self-serving and disconnected from the people of India. It was a dark day for Indian politics when the controversial Telangana bill was passed by voice vote in unacceptable chaos. Is the Indian democracy in jeopardy?

Following that horror has been the unending and continuous unravelling of ‘politicking’ in the judicial system. This was bound to happen in an environment where the executive had, over the last few years, relegated its responsibility of decision-making on crucial issues to the judiciary. The damage done by the inept management of governance by the UPA II has had a series of dire outcomes, which have substantially chipped away at the fundamentals of our constitutional frame. The ruling class seems to be running for cover, protecting its spoils. And the people of India have seen through the repetitive charade and gross betrayal.

Change is what this nation is looking for. A change of political attitude and mindset, a change of the operating manual, a change of generation in leadership, a radical change in the redundant and, often, colonial laws that encourage corruption in a restructured working space and disable entrepreneurship, a change in the personas of those who represent India in Parliament.

Toxic truth

Patience has worn out and anyone who stands apart from the toxic truth of Indian politics and the ‘management’ of India, will be celebrated and followed. There is desperation at every level of society and there is a sense of profound hopelessness. Words and rhetoric are of no use. They are heard with deep distrust. Only proactive action and immediate, ongoing reinvention of failed practices will be supported hereon.

Vasundhara Raje, the chief minister of Rajasthan, has turned the methodology of ‘governance’ upside down, and rightly so. She is pioneering an experiment where she has introduced a process that could well become the new mantra for local, effective administration. She is taking government to the people. Travelling through the districts of her state, she is making sure that her administration, with her, see and address local problems that affect the everyday lives of her constituents. This could be a salutary way of making the babus accountable to the people in a transparent structure where the politician and the bureaucrat stand vulnerable as they are compelled to meet the demands of the people on their turf on their terms. That is ‘participative’ democracy, and is in sharp contrast to attempts at vigilantism.

Why is the loud, judgmental Indian press silent on this extraordinary attempt at looking at Indian realities on the ground? Are reporters unaware of what is happening? Easy-option stories have become the dull and boring, half baked fare that confronts us everyday. The quality of the Indian media has been as disturbing to us as the functioning of Parliament. As we stand dejected at the edge of the end of the second United Progressive Alliance government, it is clear that the forthcoming general elections will turn the past upside down. Myths are bound to be busted; old equations will change; new faces will walk the talk and political opportunism will take on a different style. Will the new dispensation redraw the legal framework and introduce radical reforms? Will the government and its babu cease to be an obstacle in personal enterprise?