The biggest mass education programme?

There is a sense of helplessness all over India. There are some unforeseen developments. A series of fast developments have exposed the UPA-II to  a situation where the Bhopal gas tragedy verdict came in as a trigger.

There is no adequate response, to put midly, from the highest decision makers.

The top remains silent. It is the mass of people who seem to be bewildered by the silence of the lambs, so to say!

Now what the GOM might decide and do is for all there  to see.
What needs to be done? From the larger perspective? From the stability and the sustainability of our entire polity, the democratic system?
Any leader must be capable articulating  the mood of the people. In this case, in this instance, the Prime Minister is seen utterly inadequate to the task.

As for the political leadership, here too we find major flaws.
How the events would play out? We don’t know.

But anyone who knows some history, or some ideologies or even some elementary political philosophy, must know for sure that it is not bureaucracy twidling, it is  a vision of sorts that must inform decision making at the highest.

At least let us see what Barak Obama is doing in the BP oil spill  case.
In the BP spill case the BP CEO has come forward and said “deeply sorry”. In the Indian case, it is time and morally required for the top leadership to come forward and say “deeply sorry” and seek a public apology.

India as a great democracy, as a nation of great history and traditions must rise up to some level of moral decency.

The world over there   is now lots of developments in the political evolution, so to say. There are countries with well-established democracies. In the developed world, the USA ,UK and other major Western  countries, France, Germany and elsewhere there are democracies that are  well-established by tradition, history, Constitutions and the conventions  that are now part of the  respective countries’  special national character. In UK, we can see this even now, with a collation government  we see even the small (by Indian standards of political behaviour, the very insignificant) discretions see the concerned minister resign and quit jobs gracefully. This has now happened under James Cameron leadership, the very new coalition government is able to assert these long traditions of owing up moral responsibilities and acting upon them.

In Germany where also there is a coalition and by the latest revelations, the coalition is an uneasy one and yet we see the German government acts and behave in some unique ways. A Berlin-based newspaper editor writes that if the German football team, the football stars win the World Cup in South Africa by any chance, then and then only there is hope for the German the German Chancellor Angela Merkel hopes for survival.
Yes, things are so bad for the German Chancellor all the  coalition partners(in India they are the equivalents of  the Congress allies) are now squabbling!

Is there some such relevance for our own Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh to pull on with the current squabbling coalition partners or does he hope that such ticklish questions would be better left to Madam and he can just carry on as he is accustomed to?

Rajya Sabha or Rejection Sabha?
Why this Halla-Bulla?
The recent Rajya Sabha elections saw some peculiar Indian disease that has gripped the Indian politics.
There is a new uniform pattern for all parties.
They make a beeline to the party leaders, more notably to Sonia Gandhi with all sorts of characters jostling for a seat! Then, the leader nominates! Why?
Does Sonia Gandhi ask any questions from any of the nominees?
No. She just decides as per the power brokers at her side!
By this process, now we see the same persons, older every time they get renomination, and they just think it is their right to reside in Delhi that decides.
There are Rajya Sabha members for 20 and even more years. The same persons who often are the rejected persons from the Lok Sabha elections.
The X News listed the rejected names from the recent Lok Sabha elections and their renominations!
Then are the other farcical characters. Vijay Mallya, for instance, makes so much hell of a hue and cry and what is great about his winning. Even without the BJP and the JD(S) openly pledging support he could have won on his own power, money power and power of personality.
So too other rich men, the retired men with pulls in bureaucracy.
A great pity that in the lest of rejected persons who were shown on the TV screen Dr.Manmohan Singh tops the faces with such prominence!

Anyway, the going for Dr.Singh is getting hot every day.

Now, soon after the disasters like the Dandewada massacre and the IPL and the very negative results from Bengal that saw Mamata Banerjee getting all the seats and the Congress trailing behind her in a possible law coalition emerging in West Bengal  in the next Assembly elections, is there any future for the Congress in one crucial state? Or in other states as well?

In Bihar it is like a situation like in Tamil Nadu. Where the DMK after years of cultivating and also threatening like now, over the Raja tapes scandal and also getting away with the booty from the G-2 spectrum scandal and pocketing as much as  a reported Rs.70,000 crore loot and this loot only helps the Congress ally to threaten and also buy out the entire Congress ally, the 35 odd Congress MLAs who are in the pockets of the DMK as well.

What sort of a coalition pattern this ally is and what sort of a coalition government both Dr.Singh and Sonia Gandhi fashioned it in the state.
Now, after the cut motion and the voting pattern that saw the old allies proving unreliable and the once what were surely unreliable allies, namely, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad Yadav who, suddenly came forward to stand by the Congress.

So, we have a coalition government in India, it is a democratic government no doubt and yet the Indian democratic government is very much unlike ,say the UK government, the US and the German and even the Japanese government. In each one of these countries we see democracy, robust and healthy and based on robust and health democratic principles.

There is no seeming corruption or underhand deals and dealings, as we see in increasing fashion in India.

There is a very visible growth in corruption, first the corporate funding of the parties, in particular the Congress party is no more a whispering gossip. It is plain an open secret. For both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi the security around them is so tight. Okey, the security is provided by the government.

But what about their travels on the ostentatious private planes and  other facilities. Who finances them?

By a rough estimate, for one day, each one of them, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi seems to be spending about no less than one crore of rupees on such travels and campaigns.

Who funds these party expenses?

It is again no more  a secret that all the political parties, from BJP to the regional parties, the SP, RJD and Shiv Sena, the NCP and not the least the DMK are all sitting on mountains of cash hoards, to put so plain a language.

The  point here is that not all democracies in other countries are as large as in India.

For instance, Sri Lanka is a democracy and given its history, it is a remarkable success story. It had served a very bloody violent battle by the separatist LTTE army for so long a period and yet the Sri Lankan Constitution survived.

If I remember correctly it was a British Constitutional expert, Sir Ivor Jennings who drafted the Constitutions of Sri Lanka and even Pakistan.( I know this for sure for at Oxford in the last century’s late Fifties, I had Sri Lankan and Pakistani friends, including Ghanaian friends too and we used to compare notes  in our Parliamentary history classes about what Constitutions who wrote and invariably Sir Ivor Jennings name would crop up. Long live Sir Ivor Jennings!)Such was the strong foundations of some of these former colonian Constitutions.

Now, I want to make this observation.
As a student of British Parliamentary history and a reader of such luminaries like Sri Earnest Baker and Sir Jennings and other experts on democracy and Constitution making and even such political philosophers who wrote on American democracy(the names are too many and too long, from Bryce to Alex Tocquiville and not the least Harold J.Laski and others)I can say with some basic conviction that Indian democracy would serve all odds and even unforeseen dire predictions, if any.

But I am not sure whether our democratic government under Dr.Singh would survive long!

After his first press conference, after the completion of his second innings for a year, Dr.Singh, if any proof is needed, proved beyond doubt he is  simply not the man for the moment!

The Maoist threats and now the Bhopal disaster  outcome and the way the ministers are conducting themselves, they seem to imagine they are clever and equal to their tasks. They are not.

There is no collective application of the mind and the Prime Minister for one is simply not rising up to the occasion.

Nor, unfortunately the Congress President and  the much-fancied heir apparent, Rahul Gandhi.

Are they, the mother and son duo  actively engaged in politics, are they hand-on or they are like the Presidential off- the scene operators?
The time has come to have a hard look at our polity and the way it is hurtling down!

In a more lighter and typical German manner perhaps  it said that if the on-going World Cup football

The Prime Minister of India must educate, inspire and give clear and decisive leadership.

Dr.Manmohan Singh’s six years must be judged strictly on these lines. There is nothing outstanding good news likely in the near future.
Then, how does Manmohan Singh hopes to rise up above the current confusion and would give us a measure of sanity and a direction?
On Bhopal ,why even on much else, PM’s often non-speaking stance is not at all helpful. The oppositive is happening.

The negative publicity the PM’s long silences are  drawing.

More than anyone else we want our Prime Minister, an academic cum bureaucrat-turned Prime Minister at one jump, want him to understand and do his best.

Why this preamble?
There is a sense of distressing deterioration in the governance all round.
After six years in power Dr.Singh, yes, managed to give us a stable regime. This is admitted and we appreciate it and we like to thank him for that. Now within a year of the second  running, there are a series of visible deterioration all  around. First came  the cut motion which saw the government running for cover, so to say. The allies  proved unreliable. Trinamul played truant. The DMK was bought with a great deal of cost. The Central government lost credibility over the Telecommunications Minister’s  corrupt deals that came out tumbling out of the closet. The revelations, first, through the tapes, proved the very claims of the UPA-II to rule by any legitimacy.

The corporate lobbies pressured the government to give the portfolio to Raja, the  shadowy figure for the real boss. What was suspect for long, that is, the DMK enriched its party treasury through the G-2  spectrum corruption and the corporate too came out in the open and we know who are all calling the shots at the Delhi durbar. The CBI was also used to help out the DMK regime. Why persist with the DMK ally? Not just for the  sake of keeping the Central government going. There are other reasons. There is a well-established nexus, as the Raja tapes proved and yet the government, in particular, both the Prime Minister and the Congress President pose as if they are innocents. They are not.
They know they are helpless when it comes to real politic. The role of the big corporate, the Tatas and the Ambanis, have a great deal of influence and they can, if they so desire, can change policies, nay, they can even effect regime change.

This is not a new thing in Indian politics. In the 1984 and even during the V.P.Singh regime, the corporate that helped to dislodge Singh are well-known.

Corporate influence vitiates democratic spirit!

Then came the rescue operation. That is when the cut motion was moved, three new key allies emerged. They are Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and also Lalu  Prasad Yadav. They, their support were bought by asking the CBI to withdraw the disproportionate wealth cases against them. This was done so blatantly and for the disgust of all respectable sections of public opinion and public concern. So, what is the rationale for this democratic government to survive on this basis?
The private sector players are now becoming bolder in approaching the government and influencing the government policies.

First in telecom and now in the Indo-US investments and trade. We need to think hard about the growing influence of the corporate captains and them getting an upper hand.

We need more in-depth study.
May be the Congress party must set up an ideological think-tank and a cell to prepare some study papers by experts and veteran academics.
Our young MPs:an asset or  a liability?

The more qualified among the younger MPs, those who might have had some US higher education and work experience in US corporations could be assigned this task as well.

Then came the IPL League scandal. NCP, the boss Sharad Pawar was exposed. Soon came the AI India disaster and Praful Patel too was exposed,  both in the IPL  as well as in his management incompetence.

Maoist attacks continue: no credible alternative strategy.
There is a write-up recently on the tribal leader of the pre-independent India, namely, Jaipal Singh Munda, a member of the Constituent Assembly. He won an Olympic Gold at 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.
He founded the Adivasi Mahasabha in 1938.The central government can use the 5th Schedule provisions and we have to create special political spaces, even beyond the tribal states in the North East, even in such predominantly tribal people filled states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh (26 per cent and 32 per cent tribal people)and yet these states have only a non-tribal leaders as Chief Ministers.

We need, in short, a  full-fledged political engagement of  tribals.
Innovative alternatives to the current parrot-like repetation of the states not helping the centre-stance must end!

Allow a process that would  create development from the grass roots, tribal leaders would grow within their own groups. Reach out to the tribal leaders and establish and cultivate a bond of engagement.
Can the current leadership in Delhi is capable of doing this?
A hard question but someone has to ask it! Ask it now!

Of course, the menace of the Maoist attacks undermined  the home minister’s prestige. The man was given to talking so much, in and out of his  portfolio suddenly went off the mike. His credibility was further undermined when the final blow came, the Dantewada massacre that saw the 76 CRPF personnel gunned down in one go, and the saddest part of it was ,this was the greatest massacre of government forces in a single day in Independent history. Soon further massacres followed and we now find a very silent minister, almost lurking somewhere in the backwoods of the government.

Bhopal, the biggest disaster and the biggest block to  the present government.

Now, came the Bhopal gas leak verdict and the  eight persons convicted in a farcical manner, made things really difficult for the government. For one full week, nay, even for the second week running we saw the three powerful politicians, as M.J.Abkbar put it,  remaining silent when the whole country was weeping and fuming over the gross miscarriage of justice.

What is the explanation?
Very soon came further revelations. run Nehru revealed that Warren Anderson, the CEO of the gas disaster company, was not only  released from his arrest within two hours, he was also escorted in a  state government place and in Delhi before he finally escaped from the government, he ironically, paid a courtesy call on the President of India, Giani Jail Singh and home minister P.V.Narasimha Rao!

Rajiv Gandhi was new as Prime Minister and he was misled to allow this escape and now, his  family, both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are left to bear the cross!

Now, for all these failures and for the redressal Dr.Singh has no clue. He doesn’t speak and he was of course never given to any articulation and  talking out things out and inspiring the people or assuring any sense of leadership, what the poor man can do?

He is simply clueless and one suspects, if given a chance or an escape for himself, he might as well happily go with some remaining glory left to rub on him. If history so smiles?

But we know the verdicts of history are often so unpredictable and whether Dr.Singh will depart from his assignment with glory or ignomy?
God only can decide, as of now!

Now, see how the honble ministers have all conducted themselves in the wake of the outcry from the public over the verdict and also the further revelations of the escape and the role of Rajiv Gandhi and the new disclosures by Arun Nehru.

Why no one brought out the Anderson meeting with the President of India and the Home Minister?

Why it is left to Arun Nehru?

And pray, how the ministers  went out on their own ways explaining away the Bhopal verdict.

The Prime Minister of course chose to keep quiet. So too  Sonia and Rahul, though it is unpardonable on their part to keep mum at a time like this and at a time when wisdom must have dawned

What role and what stamina the media has in India? Is it playing any role either in exposing the  holding up of sensitive information that should be in the realm of the public knowledge and in shaping up of the p[public opinion? Or the Indian media progressively learnt to side with the powers that be and so it can reap  the government handouts and other perks and privileges of travelling with the PM entourage in the expensive AIR India plane? Is this all we have in the name of the free press. Is the press free or do we have a servile press?

Then why was it left to the lonely individuals who battle out with the obduracy of an insensitive bureaucracy as when the PMO’s was forced to part with the information under the RTI Act as for the Dow Chemical’s lobbying for escaping from its obligations as the present owner of the Bhopal site that needs cleaning up and other responsibilities.

It now  comes  out one by one certain events that were kept hidden from public view or the forgotten olden day events are brought and made a fresh from   the collective public memory.

The tragedy is that the poor Prime Minister is a helpless victim of others’ negligence.

It starts from the then Rajiv Gandhi regime that obviously blundered into  overlooking the gravity of the tragedy and allowed the Bhopal company, Union Carbide’s then CEO, Warren Anderson to escape  from the court  liability. He was released as quickly as possible, it now transpire he was released from arrest within two hours and was flown to Delhi in the state aircraft, in Delhi he was given audience by both the President of India, Giani Jail Singh and the then Home Minister, P.V.Narasimha Rao. This is revealed now by Arun Nehru who was in the Rajiv Government.

Then, the role of Arjun Singh, the then Chief Minister and now in the dog house  owing to his distance from  Sonia Gandhi.
Then are the  others.

Now we come to closer times,2006 and 2007.

The then two ministers who are also now part of the Manmohan regime, namely, P.Chidambaram and Kamal Nath.

Our MPs, why our leaders must read some Parliamentary history
Now our Parliament is not functioning  as it should. See the Parliaments in the USA, UK, France and Germany and even Japan. Even in developing countries. There are certain basic parliamentary traditions and conventions.

If the breaches take place, the ministers resign and the resignations are accepted as a matter of principle.
Japan showed the Western democracies certain basic values. There the popularly elected Prime Minister resigns when he felt he couldn’t keep his word to the electors.
In India, under Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi duo, there is a visible deterioration of Parliamentary standards.
The more corrupt the ministers, they become the more entrenched and untouched. The recent IPL leagues saw the NCP ministers adamant. The DMK telecom minister still more obdurate! So too the allies and the compromises with the anti-corruption laws. The CBI is  thoroughly flouted.
Parliament is not functioning as it should. The Prime Minister won’t go down as a great Parliamentarian! A great pity!

They were asked to help and they were only too willing!

The  then ministers agreed with the Dow proposal, Dow now owns the infamous facility, to get off the hook, the ministers agreed to the Dow proposal to set up a separate Trust for the “remediation measures, collecting funds from Indian corporate and the two ministers recommendations and the one proposed by Ratan Tata,(why he enters this scene?) who as an Indian representative of the Indo-US CEO Forum on the Indian side suggested to the PM that the Dow be let off and instead a separate trust can handle this. Tata, given his clout with  the Indian establishment had also written to Mr.Ahluwalia of the Planning Commission. The two gentlemen. Singh and Ahluwalia,(given their stake in the Indian affairs was next to zero!) suddenly agreed and gave their consent, notes were written by the Prime Minister to go by the Cross advice. Why?

The spurious reasons were that by letting off the heavyweight US companies, India would get more investment and our trade would grow with the USA!

In other circumstances, these suggestions from heavyweight corporate leaders might have gone down well with the government but given the present revelations and the much more negligence of the state and the Central government, what the Tata proposal amounted to was sheer moral degeneration of the very Indian corporate and the social system.
When we look at what the government had agreed to then and now, even after the court verdict had raised a hue and cry in the country, what the Prime Minister has been doing is unpardonable!

First, he proved to be utterly unsuited for the great responsibility he is entrusted with.

He failed to give any indication that he is really worried and has not expressed any more remorse over the outcome of the court verdict.
He has not uttered to this day any single word as his moral responsibility.

Second, the role of the great leaders. Starting with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi who is assiduously cultivated by the Prime Minister himself as the next heir to power and also by other seniors in the Congress party, the two also have chosen to keep quiet, to keep mum after even 10 days and more.

So too the behaviors of other Congress leaders.

Doesn’t Mr.Pranab Mukerjee think it was proper on his part to express his shock and sense of let down by the court system in the country. The US indifference to our tragedy.

See how Barack Obama had responded to the British Petroleum(BP)’s oil spill environmental disaster on the US soil! How the US President dared to speak out. The US President says so bluntly(that had angered the entire British society and the government, Obama called for the US to attack the BP as saying, the US would put the boot on the throat of  BP”. All hell broke loose in the UK where the US President’s rhetoric,” not civility and eloquence”, “aggressive rhetoric”, it is really “the boot on the throat of the British pensioners, the pensioners funds are invested in the BP stocks and the stocks plunged in the wake of Obama’s merciless attacks!

What have we ,in contrast in India?

A great national shame on India! We don’t even respond, the public outcry is not reported in full steam in the Indian media. The Indian media is so obliging. So kind to Manmohan Singh, so speechless even to ask questions of the ministers of the GOM on the new mandate. What new mandate, except to show off yourselves, all cowardly job seekers in the Delhi durbar.

Now, there is still talk about enhancing the compensation and even now, at the late stages of damage control, the ministers, more shamefully, the Congress party is so weak and feeble that it has no talented members at the 10, Janpath or at the AICC, they run hither and tether, they seek to damage the image of the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh government and ask for accounts and things like that than really facing the issues.
Now, it transpires that even the Tata Institute of Social  Sciences survey was hidden by the then MP government. Whoever is responsible for the cover up must now be exposed and the survey findings must be made public.

Among the more sad exposures are the behaviors of the then Indian Ambassador to the USA, Ronen Sen. Under him the embassy was hiding the turn and the NGOs had to fight to get the needed information under the RTI act.

Thank God, there are some civil society groups still fighting on behalf of the Indian people. The NGOs, in particular, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and the Association for India’s Development(AID) had gathered outside the Indian Embassy in Washington to protest against the Down in its gross attempt to influence the Indian government through its own Indian counterparts to deny justice in such a brazen manner!
How can Dow can refuse liability?

How does it make sense?

How can the US government and its people, after all the US citizens have as much stake in such environmental disasters, today it the BP spill, tomorrow a similar Bhopal can occur anywhere else, not necessarily in the USA. So, everywhere, everyone, the common people of the world must come forward to take interest and join up with citizen groups to agitate and organise and demand justice, not for one group but for all groups that might be hit by such disasters.

It is here we find that inside India, the government and the ruling party is taking such an insensitive stand on an event of a staggering scale.
Thank God again, that the current scenario is all in the public view when Barack Obama is attacking the BP and the UK government’s rather indifferent response. Today, it is the Bhopal disaster. Tomorrow it is going to be the nuclear liability bill.

For heaven’s sake, let us not rush with the nuclear liability bill in any revamped fashion even if it wins Parliamentary approval. Given the current disarray in the ruling coalition, both in the government and among the allies, we have to  wait  for a more clearer political times before we can proceed with that nightmare!

Some other expert has come out with some economic calculations, the rupees to be given as further compensation and how to overcome the current non-functional government and governance!

Roughly, it would come to nearly Rs.70,OOO crore and oronically, the same amount the government lost out in the G-2 spectrum auction scandal!

Yes, ironies sometimes come in a row. This seems to be one such instance!

The wounds won’t heal so easily and so quickly either.
So, further silence on the part of the leaders is no option at all.
There are so many hard questions before us, before the people.
There must be more democracy to save our present democracy, the democratic government and its way of functioning.

Not more derailing processes in our systems.

The party, the Congress party has a critical role to play.

There must be conscious internal reforms. The CWC, the AICC and the PCCS need to change their ways.

There  must be genuine internal reforms.

There must be a process of monitoring the system. Who is doing what.

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