Indian democracy in crisis
Manmohan Singh ill-advised stands on false prestige
Dangers could be unforeseen; it could destabilize the government, nay, even the Indian subcontinent.
World in a momentous time?
Leaders confused and crisis everywhere.
US economy in recession
USSR completes the 20th anniversary of the fall of Communism
The fall of the Berlin Wall also symbolises a new set of values for the European and other nations’s own value
The Warab Spring is a new feature to the otherwise seemingly settled Middle East and the Arab world.
There is turmoil in Israel-Palestine border disputes
The Libyan uprising is running to a seeming fall of Gaddafi’s regime
Nearer home Sri Lanka sees a new spring?
Yes, the reports show there is some. Perhaps not! But there are worldwide concerns and even peoples’ movements in every major region of the world
The US is in deep debt and America is a different country and a different economy.
However, the US economic scenario, the recession, is there and in spite of the positive strengths of the US economy and US society and politics, the very nature of its economic strength, its technological and innovation dynamics impacts every other country in the world.
As for the impact on India, there is much to introspect and deeply deliberate for India at the present moment.
US democracy is a very dynamic force for India. The US democracy is often compared and contrasted with Indian democracy and its various institutions like its electoral processes. Our judiciary is far superior, in my opinion, to the American judiciary and its prison system. Our Ele4ction Commission, in my opinion is far superior to any other similar system. And so on.
The events and happenings in other countries are acquiring a new relevance to us, in India, with the on-going agitation by peaceful means by Anna Hazare, the movement headed by Anna Hazare; India against Corruption is drawing a massive support from the people of India, especially from the middle class, the youth and even the aged.
The new generation of India, the youth, now with much tech savvy has created a very new set of dynamics that disproves the very disappointing complacency we see in the Manmohan Singh government.
What would prove to be a historic moment, when looked at retrospectively after a few years, this time, this very moment, for India is a newer experience.
India after independence faces a new set of problems and challenges.
Now the world for a moment!
But world at this point of time has its own lessons for everyone of us!
Just now, the August 20th of this year marked the end of the Soviet Russia. It is already 20 years? We can’t believe. And yet, after two decades, the current Russian state is no more in anyway a more better place. So say its citizens as a write up shows. There is a great deal of nostalgia for the very old Soviet Russia! In a 20 year eve survey the Soviet citizens say only 10 per cent of the, poll shows, citizens say the fall of Gorbachev is a victory for democracy!
Those who recalled the days say that it was a tragedy, it was not a victory for democracy, those who feel disappointed are 39 per cent of the poll and it has grown from 25 per cent the years ago. Under the Soviet regime there was security for food, for jobs. Today under a sort of democracy, no one of course says it is now democracy perfect in Russia and also they say life is uncertain, one has to work or search for a job and the wages are not fixed and they create uncertainties.
It is the momentum of events that toppled Gorbachev. It also brought in Yeltsin on whom Gorbachev now pours venom as the adventurer, says Gorbachev,” he had such a thirst for power; he was explosive and vain. Says Gorbachev further in a sort of cynical and ironical way:”I should have sent him to a banana republic as an ambassador so he could smoke a koohah where it is nice and quiet!”
It is events that gather momentum and lead to unintended consequences. Soviet Union, says Gorbachev, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Soviet breakup was destroyed against peoples’ wishes.
Are there any lessons here for countries today? For India?
We are today faced with internal turmoil by one factor of other. First the mage scams threatened us. The government was an unprincipled coalition, Sonia Gandhi’s management of the Congress party, once a mighty machine today is in shambles. It ceased to exist and lost all its momentum once a poor villager turned Gandhian, Anna Hazare launched an agitation to enact a strong Lokpal Bill in place of the government bill.
The world is also faced with a recession that had hit the USA with a debt burden that threatens the entire world economy.
In the UK there was this unprecedented riots by youngsters that had taken not only the UK by surprise but also others, including India. The youths who rioted in UK are not from one race or community. The white English youths are also the ones from deprived localities, they were from the well off sections, university students, one youth icon, an ambassador for the forthcoming UK Olympics and another girl who was seen caught stealing from superstores, those who indulged in stealing were doing so, targeting latest fads, Blackberry, flat TV screens and high priced clothes and such things.
There was social irresponsibility of a high order the destruction of public property recalled the similar scenes from developing societies.
So, is also turmoil in other countries?
In India’s neighbourhood there is the still burning issues of unsettled Tamil citizens in Sri Lanka.
Just now we were in Sri Lanka and what we saw is a sort of siege mentality that was pervasive in Colombo and there was also a sense of unsettledness after two years of the decimation of the LTTE. Now, after our return just a few days ago we read that the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksha for the first time took a stroll in a local open space in Colombo, the Independence Avenue Park, without security, without sanitised ahead of his appearance. Yes, we were driven around in Colombo in a private vehicle to see the city and the driver told us that there were several entry and exit points for the Presidential Palace as the threat perceptions to the President were still strong.
So, now, to see the President to come out in the open space was a great development in India’s neighbourhood.
Of course, the Sri Lankan Tamil problem is quite complicated and it impacts India in many ways.
One is the still confused and complicated the politics in Tamil Nadu.
In Mynamar, another neighouring country and we have a very sensitive border question and also India has to live with a neighbour that is a difficult customer for democracy export
However, awe see a change for the better, Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy leader met the country’s civilian president who was elected under the military authorities and the country is still under the military grip. So too in Pakistan, despite some recent atmosphere of change for the better. There we have now a very youthful face and the foreign minister is certainly a very sophisticated young lady and she should be the new face of a liberal Pakistan.
In Afghanistan, the issues are very complex and complicated. There was a suicide bombing at the British Council compound killing at least eight people and this took place on the anniversary of the country’s independence from Britian! Why? No one explained.
The US promise of withdrawal from Afghanistan is very shallow, for everyone knows it is near impossibility. There are wars in this part of the world and so too wars and mercenary wars in Somalia and in Syria, we have seen the US giving a sort of ultimatum to the Syrian president to quit. Libya is boiling over and at any time there could be change there.
Now, back to India, the Anna Hazare peaceful (for India this term is critical, as the Gandhi name is still a magic for us!) movement is taking some positive and at the same time with some forebodings too.
South Asian nations, in Pakistan and Thailand, India’s fight against corruption echoed in dramatic manner.
There is a new mood in the world, it seems, against corrupt governments in their midst!
India is a large democracy, in fact, the world’s largest democracy in terms of the sheer size of the population, some 120 billions.
The immediate contrast and comparison is with China, still with a bigger population and yet the crucial difference is, China is a dictatorship while India is an open society.
Yet, we see similar consciousness about corruption and what can be done. In China, corruption is equally a bigger issue, the high profile speed railway tracks ran into troubles and the high profile minister in charge of the bullet trains was sacked summarily by the government there.
A similar action by the government here is an impossibility.
Manmohan Singh came to power with so much goodwill as a honest prime minister. In his second term, just 2 years into his second term, he is today presiding over, perhaps, if we can say so, the largest corrupt government as well. If we take the social media, Facebook and Twitter, the most searched words are, India against Corruption and words like Lokpal and names like Anna Hazare. Facebook has one of the fastest growing community of, 29 million registered users. India has more than 100 million unique users. India ranks second in Asia in actual numbers, even overtaking Japan. Twitter has close to 6 million accounts. It is the not so for profit and civil rights groups that have dug deeper into the resources of the social networks.
There is a vast army of volunteers and the anti-corruption movement is spreading and it has already reached out into the very heart of establishment India, there are now protestors knocking at the doors of the Prime Minister’s office and the Delhi state Chie Minister and other Cabinet ministers and now the Members of Parliament wherever they are!
This is very unusual.
US comment on Anna Hazare from the US state dept evoked sharp reaction from India. Very right. Indians are very sensitive to US involvement in such matters. It was under the late Indira Gandhi times the word, CIA, was very potent word and every time Indira Gandhi raised the bogey of foreign hand or CIA, it was taken as a dig at the self-image of Mrs.Gandhi.
Now, there is this simmering feeling of calling names, there is yet some outpourings.
Someone called out the Rahul Gandhi name. Where is the trinity, Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi?
The three have come for criticism already and already we see some subtle changes in media coverage. Two of the popular TV channels, NDTV and CNN-IBN, led by former colleagues turned rivals; Pranoy Roy and Rajib Sardesai are perceived to be closer to the establishment. They are suddenly invisible from the TV screens!
The other three, the Congress spokesman, Manish Tiwari, two minister P.Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal, the first batch of trouble shooters have been withdrawn and now some unknown names and faces are thrown to the front.
The rigidity of the government is an ominous sign.
The very composition of the Party and the government is far from a normal, usual democratic setups. The Indian National Congress, with its 125 years history and traditions, is now an undemocratic party with its president, “unelected”, is there for 12 long years! The Congress Working Committee (CWC) was once a mighty setup with all the wisdom of the great and the good enshrined in it. Today, with the president absent from the country, the CWC probed how non-functional it is! There are functionaries who are “elected”(or nominated) to the Rajya Sabha continuously for some 30/40 years! Where are they now? They have simply disappeared! How ironical! No PCCS, DCCS and we talk of democratic values!
So, too the government today. It is totally immobile, non-functional. The PM can’t take a decision, you know why. He lacks the moral and political authority.
So, let us not fool the people who are today agitated over an issue that agitates all thinking people, citizens.
Unfortunately, though we derive our Parliamentary traditions from Britain, I wonder whether any one of our ministers, who are lawyers, know anything about the British Parliamentary traditions?
There have been many agitations in Britain, in the 18th and the 19th centuries, from Waterloo to Petrloo and from Corn Law agitations to several Parliamentary Reforms that gave franchise to other rights. All these agitations were peaceful agitations, sometimes not so peaceful.
Likewise, in a way, Prime Minister and his core team must recall the 1969 Party split, the 1974 JP agitation,1975 Emergency and Janta Party rule and later 1984 V.P.Singh agitation(ironically against corruption!) and change and no less changes of government many times in Delhi.
So, if now, L.K.Advani, the senior most BJP leader, once a detainee under Emergency calls for the PM to step down and seek a reelections, it is not after all a crazy call.
Parliamentary history everywhere, even in France and Germany, two countries with a long tradition of democracy, after UK and USA, have much to tell us.
Don’t ignore the popular agitations in a democracy. Why even in any other country?
Even on China now there are agitations, yes, peaceful agitations which are tackled by the Chinese government in a tactful, peaceful manner, if not strictly in any Constitutional way.
So, the PM and his team must realise how they are operating on thin ice. Tomorrow, people may question even the moral authority of the PM who was “elected” to the Rajya Sabha on dubious certificates only.
So, please, let us become more sensitive with the mass turnout which if not handled carefully and with speed might turn ugly with unforeseen consequences.
So, the warning is very cellar for all. It must be. There is no room in a big democracy like India with some unprecedented features, only Indian democracy exhibits with its diversity and unique unity, to stand on false prestige.
PM must concede and act, otherwise, go, as demanded by the mass-supported Anna Team.
August.22.2011 3.30 pm.
India is a big democracy. Indian democracy’s many strengths are not explained to the Indian people and even to the outsiders.
Image Source : news.in.msn.com