The Telegraph
Friday , March 14 , 2014
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Down the drain

India is in limbo. Till the new government at the Centre is sworn in, the country will have to do without decision making and will be in a state of flux. There will now be months of inaction in governance, as the political class pours huge amounts of money and resources down a bottomless drain in a desperate bid to woo voters. The weakest groups across the country are busy knitting together a patchwork of alliances. The stitches, however, come undone regularly because one set of players hopes to secure more tickets for the polls than its ‘partner’. The incongruous ‘patches’ within the same quilt, thus, never seem to agree on anything. This inability to give and take in the larger interest of the nation is an indication of what could be in store for us all if a third, fourth or fifth front comes into being. In such coalitions, the strength of diversity gets diluted and ends up in mud-slinging at the cost of the well-being of India.

Blackmail, mediocrity in thought and action and other negative realities and human shortcomings such as greed and malice begin to dominate public discourse. Aged, infirm politicians are not prepared to give up their mantle because if they do, they will also have to give up the free homes in Lutyens’ Delhi, set in vast swathes of lush greenery, and all other freebies and privileges. ‘Leaders’ will have to become ordinary Indian citizens. Depravation rules as India suffers from sheer neglect and simmering tensions.

Lazy people

Old ideas of how to run a democracy are so entrenched that even though some laws are misused and others do not work at all in a changed contemporary context, the few people who rule us refuse to rewrite the regulatory processes because by liberating the mind and soul of India that exploitative class would lose out in a participatory, modern democracy. Intellectual acumen among the political and administrative classes is abysmally low — no one thinks about debating fundamental issues which will impact the stability, maturity and success of our democracy.

India has been inherently ‘democratic’. The vitality and resilience of this country stem from a profound and natural understanding of plurality, which is, in fact, true democracy. Our ‘rulers’ have damaged this fragile balance by tampering with tried and tested processes of governance for their personal ends. By creating votebanks, indulging in the politics of appeasement, driving wedges among people who are a part of the larger community, encouraging discrimination and forging factionalism, leaders today have, as part of their political games of survival, set India’s progress back by many decades.

The eruption of discontent and an outpouring of despair and anger are rising out of this gross mismanagement of civil society at all its levels. To make matters worse, a belligerent media, unwilling to delve into the details or do rigorous homework, have unleashed themselves upon the people of the country. Headlines and a phenomenon called ‘breaking news’ override all else, including good sense. Responsible journalism is a thing of the past. The presentation of news is equally absurd — it is hysterical and unappealing owing to its superficial content. Only half truths are presented to viewers.

Television programmes on news channels border on the comic in present times. They serve to entertain people who are bored. However, these shows annoy viewers who genuinely care about the state of affairs in this country. Television anchors, most of whom are unwilling to work hard and prefer to do things according to their own comfort, spend their time making up stories where there are none and constantly ‘speculating’.