What is happening lately, is that somehow or other the system catches up with criminals in politics. This is the positive change in my opinion.
The Prime Minister, true to his style, puts forward many new theses, be it economic development or managing the polity or the expansion of our foreign policy perceptions. Though his political legitimacy and credibility is at a discount, the man has been discharging his obligations, in the given context, in an exemplary manner, to use a hackneyed academic sounding word! After all the PM is a highly academically inclined person in the first phase of his career. Now, the PM said at a New Delhi seminar that in a democracy it is difficult to make faster economic progress as quick and timely decisions are curtailed by the very democratic processes and decision making. He of course didn’t say but meant that more so in a coalition government he is heading. The coalition government under him is now proceeding more and more in an unbridled capitalist path, observers in Delhi, more so the media fraternity, are writing about. The present government , they note, are also falling into the trap of the NDA mode of governance. A sort of Indian shining, more given to urban middle class conspicuous consumption. To the neglect of the rural India, rural poor even after the announcement of the EGA.
There is this growing scepticism, nothing wrong if scepticism grows in a healthy manner in an open society. Instead of getting spoon-fed by the official propaganda by headlines-grabbing announcements or the various expositions of new theses, as we are now fed by the PM and his more smart FM and their colleagues.
There was this recent NDTV talk show in which the subject of the Indian Oil executive Manjunath’s brutal murder by the oil mafia was discussed. The subject of the debate was “Was Manjunath’s murder a waste? A very heart-rending episode, an IIM-Lucknow graduate from Bangalore and he was upright in preventing the adulteration of fuel by the mafia and he was brutally murdered one day without himself perhaps knowing how powerful the mafia gangs are in that part of India. Those who participated in the debate were all highly motivated and some very distinguished persons. There were T.S.R.Subramaniam, former Cabinet Secretary of the Union government and Mr.Prakash, a former DGP of UP and some were the class mates of Manjunath and also there was his professor at the IIM. The tenor of the debate was that one can’t fight the political system that is prevailing in the country.
The message is clear and loud. You can’t fight the system. You can’t reform the system, except in some cosmetic way by those who want these cosmetic changes for keeping themselves perpetually in power. The criminals could vary in status and power.
Our democracy is evolving, evolving in a positive way only. Even the democratically elected and constituted government like the present UPA is found wanting when it comes to governing. Yes, even when it comes to routine appointments to higher offices our democracy seems to have slowed down lately. The excuse is coalition politics!
The recent Natwar Singh episode gives an insight to the various forces that operate in the inner recesses of the power structure. We might be a successful democracy. But we are not successful in serving the interests of the larger interests of the largest number of people. We seem to be an oligarchy, the government seems to function for serving or coming to terms with the various vested interests that have a vice-like grip over the governance of the country. The various laws are passed with much fanfare and yet their implementation seems not anybody’s concern.
There was this Minister who was trotting up his links with the high family in the political hierarchy and he was almost browbeating the PM and even the very government’s foreign policy positions.
Our system, as I am saying, is improving but it fails to catch the thieves at the final stage. Natwar Singh was ousted, again by not a combination of the genuine party men but by interlocutors, the very upstarts and the turn coats, party hoppers and others. This does speak well for the health of the political system.
Even the news report that act like that of Natwar Singh that is akin to another incident, in this case, involving the former French UN Ambassador Jean-Bernard Merimee, is now behind the bars for getting the contract for six million oil barrels. In India can we imagine such an action possible? Have we ever punished one politician for having taken bribes or put any businessman behind bars for having violated so many laws? Every one has a patron in Delhi and asks Mr.Aniel Matrani, perhaps he has more wisdom up in his sleeves! He had seen it all and he had done it all and now he must be feeling at the top of the world, given his enormous power to dislodge this government itself, if only he chooses to do so. Who knows what our system is capable of? It is not as if democracy makes exceptions for some individuals. Even in totalitarian states, it is not so. One more crucial component to the present malaise of the democratic governance is the rise of corruption new levels of shaming us into one of the most corrupt nations in the world. The latest Volcker report and its aftermath give us a shadow of things to come. The much more sensational expose is the MPs caught on the camera accepting bribes for raising questions.
The blame of coalition government for lack of transparency is indefensible. May be it is the very undemocratic nature of our party structure, our various hierarchies of the power structure, the lifetime job guarantees to our bureaucrats, self-petuating bureaucracy all have added to the unworking of a genuine open and democratic government.