Call of Independence
NATIONAL HALL OF SHAME
By Poonam I Kaushish
New Delhi, August 16, 2011
"The naïve notion that we can preserve freedom by exuding
goodwill is not only silly, but dangerous,” wrote former US
President Richard Nixon in his book "The Real War." His wise
words of caution are water off a duck’s back as our netagan
celebrated the 65th Independence Day yesterday. Replete with
the syrupy speeches of Mera Bharat Mahan and ‘All Is Well’
which resonated to the aam aadmi’s raucous silence!
Epitomizing, a severe governance deficit and a complete
breakdown in public authority with a hamstrung Government
unable to deliver. Bringing things to such a pass that Indian
democracy is funded by corruption today. From the Rs 70,000
crore CWG swindle, Adarsh housing scandal, down black billions
stashed in foreign banks topped by the mother of all swindles
Rs 1.76 lakh crore 2G spectrum scam. What to speak of terror,
skyrocketing prices, rising disparities et al. Testimony once
again, that political greed and corruption has become the
raison d atre of our feudal democracy.
One may cynically argue, when was Indian politics about
political integrity, any way? As the sleazy tales unfold
Manmohan Singh unblemished credibility has taken a big hit.
What is the use of having a Prime Minister with impeccable
credentials if he turns a blind eye to en masse loot?
Especially as Government documents disclose that he and his
Office were ‘party’ to all the decisions.
As for the Gandhi mother-son duo the less said the better.
Both seem to have lost the plot and are selective about the
issues they espouse. Hear their deafening stillness on bribery
and sleaze. The Congress is only interested in propagating the
‘Gandhi Mystique.’ Secrecy surrounds Sonia’s mysterious
illness and surgery in a foreign country. A celebration of
sycophancy at best and adulation at worst.
The main Opposition Party, BJP is boxed in by grandiose
pretentions of being a ‘party with a difference’ but is in
fact a Party with differences with votaries of the Sangh
Parivar pulling in different directions. The Left parties
stand decimated and most of the regional parties are facing
simmering discontent. All hurting for satta.
Wring your hands all you want but that does not take away from
the fact that morality, honesty and integrity are words
non-existent in the political vocabulary. Sadly, legal
loopholes are trotted as an excuse for political immorality.
While Union Cabinet Ministers trash the CAG’s findings in the
2G and CWG scams.
Besides, instead of finding a solution to civil society’s
demands to end corruption, our leaders try to muzzle Team Anna
Hazare’s fight for the Jan Lokpal Bill. Preferring to rule by
law than govern. Failing to gauge that the aam janata yearns
for change. Despite 65 years of Independence our polity has
yet to get its act together and become citizen-centric.
Alas, in a chor-chor-mauser-bhai political milieu of
you-scratch-my-back- I-yours we have hit rock bottom
politically, administratively and socially. Making India reel
in disgust and anguish. Look at the irony. The country
frittered over Rs 35,000 crore on the 14-day razzmatazz CWG
and lost over Rs 60,000 in the 2G spectrum scam yet, has no
funds for the sick, diseased and hungry.
Notwithstanding, the statistics about India’s incredible
growth story, growing at over 8 per cent, the aam aadmi
continues to groan under the onslaught of spiralling prices of
vegetables, pulses, food-grain and sky-rocketing inflation.
Look at the irony. Cell phones go a-begging, yet people
continue to beg for food. Bin bijli, bin jal, bin pyaaz,
whatever happened to the Congress ka haath aam aadmi ke saath?
See Asli Bharat which is in the grip of the Bolangir-Kalahandi
syndrome – hunger, poverty and suicides. According to the
Global Hunger Index 2010 India is placed at the 66th spot out
of 88 countries surveyed. And 12 States fall in the ‘alarming’
category. With 87% of the population living below the poverty
line, the struggle to eke out a living is an onerous task. So
much for the much-hyped and illusionary deal of roti, kapada
Importantly, who will put an end to the miseries of 762.9
million people earning less than Rs 20 a day who satiate their
starving bellies by longing looking at the neon signs of
sumptuous pizzas and burgers? Or for that matter, the 74
million ‘Nowhere Children” who are neither enrolled in schools
nor accounted in the labour force or the 44 million children
between 5-14 years engaged in economic activities, domestic
and non-remunerative work?
Worse, India continues to be under assault from terrorist. The
latest attack in Mumbai on 13 July last was the 18th attack
since 2000 and the terrorists still roam scot free.
Questionably, why has no attack taken place in the US since
2001 or UK after 2005? Bluntly, the terrorists know they would
have to pay with double measure. Remember, post 9/11
Washington destroyed Afghanistan and recently “smoked out”
Osama bin Laden. But India will continue to be under assault
given our abysmal security infrastructure and renown for being
a “soft” State.
Arguably, in the face of angry masses our netagan need to
realize no hold on power is guaranteed and sacrosanct. India
requires a commitment to transparency, tolerance and honesty.
A sense of fair play which can be achieved only through public
dialogue and honest discourse. Not the symbolic gestures and
inane diatribe which total a zero-sum game.
The impotence of the Government to provide good governance
based on honesty and credibility should make it incumbent for
our netas to do some soul searching. The Government needs to
pull itself by the bootstraps. Empty rhetoric and pious
promises will not do
As long as the Prime Minister continues to be perceived as
helpless pummeled between the aam aadmi pressing for action
against corruption and Sonia’s Congress which sees the
coarse-correctors as a greater evil than corruption itself,
the present crisis will continue. Underscored by the de facto
and the de jure centres of power, read Sonia and Manmohan
Singh contributing to a political and moral void.
What next? The time has come for our leaders to break the
walls of silence and take immediate action lest the country
sliding into self-created chaos transcends into a lynch-mob
society. Time to apply corrective balm to a vandalized aam
janata, connect with its hurt people and assert its authority
interspersed with emotional discourse.
Our rulers’ better wake up from their deep slumber of self
conceit. Like Tunisia and Egypt have shown when the ‘more
equals’ play havoc with the people it is time to overthrow
them. No longer will India remain silent. The bugle to end
corruption and begin accountability, honest governance,
probity and morality has been sounded.
The question ultimately is, will our netas put on their
running shoes to prove that nothing is impossible by stalling
the corruption juggernaut? Or will they end up running a
little harder and faster along the path to corrupt fortunes?
Time to take responsibility, amend their ways and address
serious issues of governance.
Clearly, the State needs to grasp that an aspiring nation is
not seeking retribution but even-handedness, self-respect,
honesty and integrity. A battered citizenry demands a
self-righteous, competent and morally sensitive Prime Minister
who can ease its pain, make it not only realize its
aspirations but live them.
In the ultimate, our leaders should grasp that nations live or
die by the way they respond to the challenges they face. Only
that nation survives which rises to meet that moment and has
the wisdom to recognize the malaise and resolve it before it
is too late. Will our polity heed the call of Independence?
(Copyright India News & Feature Alliance)