Peoples’ faith in democratic processes should not be undermined!
In a year and so Mr.Narendra Modi has transformed India from a distraught nation into a very vibrant and optimistic country. There is a hope and expectation on a wider front. India’s profile on the international front is now perhaps at the highest point since the time of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
India as a democracy widely recognised and appreciated. The PM’s latest tours in the Central Asian nations and also incidentally his encounter with his Pakistani counter-part is a pleasant bonus.
Critics may cavil and they have to be also taken on board. That is diplomacy and governance!
Prime minister’s powers under the Constitution have come again under scrutiny for several reasons. There is a 5-judge Constitution Bench that had reserved its judgement on the much-awaited judicial appointments to the Supreme and the High courts.
This judgement, whatever shape it may acquire is unlikely to settle the issue at all. This is one section of public opinion.
For India has a peculiar political history in the post-Independence era. The Indian Constitution is a very fine document and it had survived the 65 years of Independence. Yet, we had seen the 1975 Emergency era. And also we had seen the political parties’ reactions on the eve of the 40th anniversary year of the Emergency. L.K.Advani, the senior BJP leader struck a cautionary note. The Congress party, the originator of the episode didn’t react at all, didn’t repent either.
So, there are discordant notes in the polity over that act. Also, we have to now realise that the political parties are not discussed by the Constitution makers.
And the parties also have evolved in a spontaneous manner and we see the limitations emerging to the way the whole polity has come to shape up.
A series of deficiencies or defects, why even certain definite decline in political morality and honesty and truth in the very fabric of the polity are noticed.
Large scale corruption in the polity, in the government and the parties, why even some large scale corruption scandals and criminal cases involving the very top political offices, like the PMo and the CMs are under various stages of investigation and judicial arbitration.
What will be the outcomes of these gross misdemeanours is a serious question. It is not for the politicians, nor for the political class but for the entire body of public opinion to reach some decisive moments.
Such moments, ideally in a democracy, must be the periodic elections where people vote out the corrupt and the criminals and vote in the alternative formations. But unfortunately, the current political scenario doesn’t not lend itself to take any complacent stand.
There are great many falls in standards of the politicians, the politicians who ,as MPs, recontested and became once again MPs or Ministers have very disturbing track records in their accumulation of assets. There is a list given under the RTI Act to the ADR (Association for Democratic Research) that shows, most of the senior leaders, belonging to all major parties, the Congress and the BJP and the Samajwadi party and others that show assets of these dignitaries have rise within a period of say 5 years(2004-2009)from 289%,340%,199%,256% and one young MP’s assets shot up to 625% and one senor leader’s asset ,something like 700 and odd percent. This is all now in the public domain. There is a register in the Rajya Sabha to sign member’ interest in companies etc. But no such register is kept in the Lok Sabha ,we are told.
Then, what about the conflict of interests of Ministers and their kin’s deeds?
Now, the Supreme Court has issued notices asking the political parties why they don’t want their electoral and party funding to be filed with the Election Commission.
There are not yet the Lokpal and the Lokayukta are not in lace.
The point is that the Indian polity is not what the Constitution wants. It had undergone many changes.
There is tension and turmoil in the society and polity at large and the Modi government faces real problems on the issues of corruption, criminality at high places and there is fear in the media and there is a certain uncertainty and anxiety on the political and public morality canvas.
So, what the PM would be doing when he tackles some basic issues of accelerating economic activity, called euphemistically called economic reforms is to be watched. Corporate opinion is always distrusted by the general public. Corporates are always for profits. So, public interest calls for wisdom and leadership. Here Mr.Modi’s steps would be watched and scrutinised.
So too in some delicate areas like the interests of the weaker sections, the vulnerable categories like farmers, rural issues. Women and children and health issues. So, there has to be transparency and also decisive action.
So, the Prime Minister has much to ponder about lack of not much precedence.
Unfortunately, the predecessor government hadn’t left any good examples. We have created a bad legacy in the last decade.
There is too much blurring of party and government in the Indian polity. It is time that the past blunders are done away with. Also, the right persons have to be put in the right jobs.
Even now, there is an itch to test the patience of the public and the elite. Let us realise, very soon, that much of modern governance is a Westernisation process only.
Also, our present Constitutional government, our ideas of freedoms, human rights, courts and the rule of law are all Western imports only.
Dare we not say this also about our education and cultural practices.? So, why pretend and waste time and our energies in trying to foist some primitive thoughts on some of the latest controversies?
Let the Film and television institute has a proper chairman, best qualified at that.
So too the economic development model.
We need modern day capitalism, free market capitalism or call by whatever name you want, we need private capitalism to invest, take risks and bring about faster developments. But this capitalism needs to be responsible capitalism, please note.
There are really some concerns here. We only have to study some of the new states that had sprung up in former Soviet Russian states and in Baltic countries.
Wherever long established institutions are not respected and adhered to in strict details, wherever the private capitalists are cultivated in any cosy manner, there is the danger of a democratic government falling into the same traps, as the previous government found itself after a decade of cosy existence with party and government and private capitalists stripping off assets of the state.
This is danger is very much present, we are afraid, even now with some trends being noticed even today. Already we have seen the issues of conflict of interest coming into play and some whiff of scams and what have you. This is just a warning for those who care for such finer insights and certain forebodings.
We have to borrow on the Chinese experiences in this area. Big infrastructure developments can come only on the Chinese model, be it railways or roads or civil aviation.
The Chinese and the Japanese have the skills in such gigantic projects. But then we have to realise also that we are a democracy, open society and so we have to take all sections of public opinion.
It is here we need to tap all the opinion, we have to evolve a culture of public debate and free expression of opinion. And independent judiciary should be our critical differentiating institution.
The point is that the nature of power is such there is always an urge to exercise it a bit arbitrarily and we have to warn ourselves at every step that we don’t fall prey to the Indira Gandhi itch!
Otherwise, Mr.Modi is bound to get all-round support, even now, irrespective of the Opposition parties’ current noises about not so basic issues.
All sections have great expectations from the present government, the mood is the country is also conducive to move with the PM’s many initiative. We wish the PM all success.