India’s response not enough!
India has just concluded a major election, the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

This is India’s 15th major election and the results of the election proved beyond doubt, if there is any doubt or any doubters, both domestic and foreign, that India has emerged and is becoming a fairly mature democratic society and a liberal democratic society as well.

This needs to be stated and re-stated any time and many times.

There are so many major happenings in the world and India must be seen as being counted. As they say time and tide wait for none and so too is politics. If you don’t do anything also, time passes and politics moves on. Is India is this position today? When major events and occasions call for India taking a stand and expressing an opinion?

The new US President Barack Obama seems to be a new phenomenon in world politics today. There hasn’t been any such US President in recent times. May be after such major figures like Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy in the US history here is a new comer who by all previous standards breaks new ground. He is first of all a young person, comes from a racially mixed background, partly African and religiously he bears a middle name that is unheard of in Western politics, he comes at a time when the world is faced with some unprecedented crises in race and religious relations, there is a near universal threat from extremists and violence-inducers and the Taliban and Al-Qaeda seem to be the only two major manifestations that shook the world and continues to shake our faith and capacity to restore confidence in more Western liberal and enlightened politics and governments.
The Arab world is divided, rather deeply and the Muslim world is very unsettled with so many conflicts and mutual suspicion and much hatred as well.

Obama’s visit to the Middle East in early June this year has come as a refreshing light to the world.
Obama went to the major countries, Saudi Arabia and Egypt and made a major speech at Cairo University. The speech was long in the making and was widely heard and translated into several languages and the major   speech was at Al Azhar University.
Now, after Obama made that historic speech, many countries in the world became more enthusiastic and congratulated the US President.

Indian response zero?
I was totally disappointed at the Indian response. There was practically no response! All our nameless face from the foreign ministry desk was that Obama made no mention of India or India’s relations with Pakistan! Is this a response?

Is this all India has to say or respond to a major historic speech on issues that were at the very heart of a long time history of India’s foreign policy.

India, if at all, has a long, long engagement with the Arab Middle East, our non-alignment policy is founded on what we did in the Middle East, from Nasser’s nationalisation of the Suez Canal to what the rise of Arab nationalism did for the partition of Palestine and the creation of the Jewish state in Israel.

To cut the story short, our relations with Palestine and now with Israel, to say so, is on an  even keel and that we all have to recognise and behave, we agree.

But the Obama speech touched some basic fundamental moral and political issues of our times.
If anything, Obama was at his candid best. So, self-confessional. He said at the beginning of his trip:”There are so many apprehensions and misapprehensions. Over Iraq, over Iran, over Israel, Palestine and over Guatanamo. I want to open a dialogue, with the one and a half billion Muslims in the Arab world.”They are hoping that a son of a Kenyan Muslim who lived part of his childhood in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, can help chart a new course”. That touched an instant rapport with the entire Muslim world, nay, with the entire world community.

“I want to speak the truth in politics” the US President was speaking. He was reminding us, specially, the Indians, our own Mahatma Gandhi. The rest of the world too, as the TV pictures across the Arab world capitals showed were listening with rapt attention and dead silence! A cold chill ran across my veins, I should confess!

Obama said in Germany:”The moment is now for us to act what we all know to be the truth. The US can’t force peace upon the parties but he had created the space, the atmosphere, at which the talks can start”. Obama did many remarkable things no other previous US President has done so far. He visited the sites of mass massacre in the World War II. Buchenwald, he mentioned the existence of the gas chambers, the Holocaust, which liquidated six million Jews and also mentioned the fact of one million Palestinians killed obviously by the Jews and these are all very hot and unmentionable topics and this Obama did with a moral candour that was not seem for years in any living leader of any major or minor country. All these mentions evoked very strong emotions and created a new height of hope and expectation of solving perhaps the long for and yet unbelievable chance for a time  when these lingering pains of the past are still holding up mankind’s search for a civilized peace that can be sustained.

We all seem to be living through some exciting times, it seems.
The world can’t move on as it had done under George Bush. The world has to find a new path, a new set of ideas and strategies to bring the trouble-torn world into a more humane and more sensible for each nation to exist in dignity and peace.

Luckily, the Obama speech came on the day the Peking’s infamous Tiananmen Square massacre, the twentieth anniversary came on the very day when Omaba was making those famous remarks in the world capitals. The Chinese were panicky and they clamped a strict vigil and there was much mental disturbance in the civilized world. There were also other soul-searching issues in other countries, in India’s neighbour, Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi’s trial over and the judgement awaited. All these events and happenings, Sri Lanka where the humanitarian crisis, all these were catching up with the international community’s conscience.

What are India’s responses to these on-going international affairs?
Where does stand on some of these critical issues?

Can India live silently and can India think and behave as if these are all internal matters for those far and near countries’ own internal matters!

At least, India should have congratulated Obama for his very bold and very risky speech.
He was breaking new ground in the Arab world. He was mentioning the unmentionable subject of an independent Palestine state. Palestines have the right to exist as a great nation.
But the American policy, its tilt so far, was not to treat the Palestines and the Israelis on equal terms. This, Obama daringly did.

He did so wonderfully, with sweetness and charm and much aplomb.
India should have congratulated Obama for saving the world!
This we didn’t.

India was seen hesitant and even hiding in some sort of chickenery of heart. We didn’t show up as an independent country. We seem to be looking both sides, fearing some reprisal or some rebuke and we seem to be taking a back step and seem not wanting to be seen by other countries.
Are we afraid of China or some other country, say, Russia?

Or, what was holding us back from going forward and openly congratulating Obama.
Or we still taking some lessons how to behave internationally, from countries like the UK, our former coloniser and still pretend to be a power.

Unluckily for the UK when we are talking about the time, the UK state was caught up in its own internal crisis. So, we didn’t have any idea or clue as to how our former masters would have behaved.

It is a national shame, I would say, to think so. For giving room for thinking so. Unfortunately, what Singh’s leadership, in his second avatar as the Prime Minister, didn’t show any improvement?
If at all, he seems to have lost in his own internal affairs, with the newly formed government affairs, the Prime Minister of India was seen as not very much interested and concerned with what is happening on the international stage.

That is my personal view, as seen from a long distance.
If I am wrong I am willing to correct my own mistaken view or if I am right then I would to have suitable responses from the right quarters.

The point is that we have a large body of experts on foreign affairs. It is more an outcome of the large number of retired officials living in New Delhi and also the habit of expressing and that too very carefully some instant opinions on the TV screens for some off-hand questions from the anchors and then forgotten.

It is a measure of our current low-profile on the international scene that we in India don’t have an independent intellectual community. There is no independent foreign policy expert who is not dependent upon the government’s largesse or government help.
Every other foreign policy or Foreign Service retiree seems to be living for some other next assignment.

So, New Delhi doesn’t seem to have the environment where such nondependent scholars and experts can thrive in a free manner.

Nor do we have a media culture like that obtains in the UK and the USA or the various think-tanks that all seem to operate with private fundings, not necessarily independently but still with a great deal of independence.

The US universities also fund lots of new departments; one new department I noticed now is in Canada where in a university there is a new department called Innovative International Governance or some such name.

That dept often produces articles that are very interesting and even we in India can adopt some of its suggestions.

I don’t think there is even one such innovative institution to study the new developments in international governance.
What is India’s foreign policy vision?
Is India engaging enough on the world stage?
Or, we are becoming isolationist nation?
Why India is not talking about its place in the sun, as it were!

The PM-Zardari encounter is a stage-managed farce, to say the least. It is a handiwork of some clever foreign ministry officials but this sort of fake photo-opportunities don’t take a country very far on the international stage.

As John F. Kennedy said: we should not speak out of fear but we must not be afraid to speak!
So, India needs to think deep and hard and must come out a new vision for our foreign policy initiaitives.US President Obama has caught the imagination of the world by talking about the fundamental principles in all his policy initiatives. So, he is able to kindle the hopes and aspirations of millions of people across the globe.

India has to do a lot to catch up with the “vision thing”.

Our Prime Minister was at Bric summit. This time it is in Russia and so Russia becomes our focus too this time. This is the first time an Indian Prime Minister attends this Brazil, Russia, India, China meet to discuss  security-centric issues and also the political interactions. Unfortunately, in a very difficult world and in an atmosphere where we need new ideas and inspirations, our leaders were found wanting. The PM talked (coyly) about rather peripheral issues while only our officials foreign secretary) was commenting. Brazil’s President Lula seems the only one to talk “bluntly” and point to the need for more political talks, so that everyone tries to change their own protectionist mindset and even the Brazil’s President talked of the agriculture sector that needs to be taken out of the subsidised and  thus making the world’s poor agriculture areas more becoming more unviable. One is not at all clear how far our Prime Minister is capable of grasping the varied layers of the world realities, the geo-political realities, the mental processes of the men and people at the key positions who agitate and cogitate the central currents of the modern world’s multi-layer thought processes, from intellectuals to the politicians and leaders.

What matters or should matter in such gatherings? It all of course depends upon the moral stature of the persons concerned.

Sure, it is the higher thoughts on the ideological contours of nations and peoples matter a great deal in lending the leaders’ their persona and the aura they inhale and breathe, so to say!
India is a democracy; we can say the largest democracy. Are we a great democracy? It depends upon who raises the question or who answer the same!

Now India is a democracy, Russia and china are not, right?
Russia is not yet a fully developed democracy, though there are some welcome features. China is utterly a dictatorship and has only one party.

India has advanced a great deal on the democratic path.
So, there will be mental issues, that is, our own perceptions of how we see the world and we see the prospects of the world peace.

West has its own perceptions of who make a genuine democracy and who doesn’t.
All these are likely to impact on the outcome of the summit.
I feel that India needs to generate more ideas and more debates on the many current of the turbulences and also the chances.

India certainly has a natural ally in Obama, if not in America as such. We have to seize this rare historic opportunity and take along Obama’s wise words whenever we have an opportunity to advance peace and understanding, be it in Israel, or Iran or even North Korea.
India’s opportunity is here and now.

In such a context we have to read the US President Obama’s Middle East speech and draw lessons.
Obama talked and mentioned some unmentionable taboos! This was morally courageous.
In particular, the two thorny issues, Israel and Iran, are being tackled by the US in a more imaginative way.

Israel’s Prime Minister was in Washington and back home he seems to have melted a bit but not enough to allow peace to return to Palestine.

Palestine issue is at the heart of the modern world’s peace prospects.

Palestine needs a home, a secure home with borders, Jerusalem and settlements. But the Israel PM is talking about negotiations about cantons – “the canton of the state of Palestine, with a flag and an anthem, a state without borders, without sovereignty, without a capital”.

India must engage energetically, with an inspired mind with a dedication to world peace and whatever contribution India can make, we must make and we must be seen as the true inheritors of the Nehruvian legacy. Not just as routine minders of day to day survival politics. India’s voice, India’s must be made available to the people.

India is a large liberal democracy.

It is time we foster lots of independent, privately promoted such think tanks.
Here all that is possible to be dependent or to b    become very soon dependent sort of experts who are all otherwise, retired government servants.

Where is optimism and hope for the future?
The point here is that the fact India is a great democracy, a liberal democracy, an open society or any other current fashionable views might hold good for India and we should all be proud about it. But who feels such pride? The pride of being Indians and the pride of being a democracy of which the citizens feel a rejoicing?

The 2009 elections are supposed to be a victory for the youth. Is it so?
How the youth victory is reflected? In the public space?

There is now every analysis about the statistics that tells different stories.
One story is that this is not a youth election as such. The first Lok Sabha had an average more youth representation than what the 2009 Lok Sabha bears out. The more number of MPs with criminal records, the more crorepatis and the more dynastic youth must make us to think hard and deeply. The National Election Watch did a good job in highlighting and giving us detailed analysis.
The irony is that the Congress party was leading the BJP and the SP and other parties. More worry is the fact that UP, the crucial barometer of the Indian politics has the largest number of MPs or MP candidates with criminal records.

The detailed analysis showed that the first, second and the third and fourth phase had successively 222,288 and 258 and 164 criminal record candidates! A total of 259 millionaires were represented in the fourth phase of the election alone. Every other party had the dubious candidates with dubious distictions; more the BSP had millionaires, no less other parties, both national and regional.
The Mumbai electorate and even the Bangalore electorate didn’t show much enthusiasm for voting in the Lok Sabha elections. The 40 and odd percentage voting for the urban and enlightened electorate tells another stiry, for sure.

Even now, the indepth study only can show what is wrong with the voters or how the apathy or the other factors had contributed to the skewed voting percentages and the number of seats won can be attributed to the euphoria or the subdued disenchantment that we can associate with the Lok Sabha elections.

In UP, for instance, where Rahul Gandhi strategy or Rahul Gandhi wave or vision is supposed to have succeed needs to be studied with some skepticism for the 21 seats won by the Congress out of 8o seats came with only 18.25 per cent of votes, while the BSP secured 27.42 per cent vote share, SP got 23.26 per cent vote share.

The urban apathy and also the vote rigging in rural areas, the flow of black money and liquor and  the other corrupt practices are also widely in operation, in most states, notably in TN and in W.Bengal and Kerala we saw a different trend altogether.

The main point is that the 2009 Lok Sabha elections led to any euphoria or a great deal of optimism.
It seemed that for the Manmohan Singh government, government formation and later to run the government machinery seemed one of just a routine. As any other routine life in the nation.
There is no vision or no euphoria in the peoples lives.

Rahul Gandhi didn’t accept office and this too might have dampened what was left of the youth spirit.
In India we see a pervading sense of fear and a sense of helplessness over the prevailing corruption in the bureaucracy and the ever-self-perpetuating power and hold of the bureaucracy.
No changes, the same faces, and the older the more they survive.

We seem to be a nation of survivors and status quoits.
The youth were not enthused by this election. The twentieth anniversary of the  Tianananmen Square riots celebration saw the Chinese youth recalling those days of the uprising when they youth saw optimism, students pride in the country etc.

Yes, this is youth feeling and a belief in their future.
In contrast, I don’t find there is any such youthful optimism or the hopes for the future or any such globalisation vision or the international impact on either the youth or the middle classes or in the older generation.

As a nation, the Lok Sabha elections saw a rather depressing fact. There was a less turnout of voters. The voter participation is becoming lower and apathetic? We need in-depth study or studies.

Lethargy and helplessness?
Yes, there is lethargy and helplessness. There is deep down the Indian psyche that somehow we as a nation have become immune to many immoralities. There is widespread corruption. Nothing happens in India from the top down to the bottom with0out paying a bribe. Large corporations’ move and impact government policy making. We have just to see the lobbying firms or own creations by the big corporates operating out of New Delhi star hotels. It is a public fact and a scandal of sorts.
Then is the press manipulation. Indian press is not free; there is no freedom for the press owners or the press employees.

So, what is genuine policy making in the government, in the Cabinet and in the executive and even now judiciary is corrupt, the stories coming out of Chand?garh or other sources bear this fact out.
The judicial delay is proverbial.

Every man has a price; the citizen is for sale, big or small.
The Constitutional Review Committee report is in the dust bin. Why?

There is no clear demarcation of powers, among the executive, government, judiciary and the party ‘dictatorship’. Especially under Sonia Gandhi leadership the distinction between the party and the government is almost obliterated.

Much more fundamental the democracy as a system of governance is driven by what democracy is according the Congress party.

There is no inner spring, no intellectual or moral basis for many of the beliefs or token of ritual in the system of governance.

Even now, all we have is an absence of an elected, genuine democratic leadership. What is a liberal democracy or a liberal society, if we are not driven by a heightened sense of moral and intellectual commitment for truth and morality in politics? In our core belief system?
This very history of liberalism as a creed and a philosophy. From the ancient days to the modern world to the present times and the day.

President Barack Obama, luckily, has come like a fresh breeze of openness and a leader searching and articulating truth and morality in politics.

His Middle East trip, his Cairo speech represents the highest ever peak in modern day politics and creates a confident world.

We are all lucky to live in such a time and the day!

No genuine election or internal discussions or party elections at any level taking place.
Indian democracy, if we can say so, is a convenient tool for survival by all the ‘stake holders’.
Where is the place for truth or ethics or morality in the sphere of politics?

Is there truth in the oath the ministers are taking?
What is their core belief system? The ideology or the system of their values?

This is a sort of technocracy or a family and feudal management of affairs by a body of men who had shed all their inhibitions and beliefs and pledged to serve some ends that are not morally justified and ethically defensible.

Everything seems a facade, superficial. The other day Mr.Sharad Yadav, the President of the JD (U) threatened on the floor of the Lok Sabha to commit suicide if the women’s quota bill passed in its present form. Why?

There is a mere pretence in the bill. The bill doesn’t reach out to bring in the backward and most backward of the sections of women, alleged Yadav. He may be right or wrong. The point is that the bill is to serve some classes and to leave the weaker sections.

Social justice is another misused and misinterpreted word for vested interests.
A clear political ideology for the Indian democracy and for its liberal values is lacking.
Caste, communal and ethnic and even vested interested who amassed wealth and influence through the existing quota system, the creamy layer strives to perpetuate itself on the rest of the society in the name of democracy.

Yes, we need to have a new interpretation of the new democracy and the new challenges towards attaining an ideal state of affairs.

Rights and freedoms, for individuals and how to create more space for expanding our personal freedoms is not always at the heart of any democracy and liberalism debate. How the various institutions, under the Constitution and the government like the role  and independence of the  CBI and speedy justice to the poor and access to education, healthcare for the poor and many  fundamental rights are all issues that need to be debated more vigorously and  free of fear and retribution from the vested interests. The new democracy as given to us by the 2009 election results looks like a dynastic democracy. It also looks like one more new version of a new oligarchy by a select number of families.

Also, the new democracy looks like a corporate state run by paid or kept ministers by bigger corporate houses. There are as many variations as the frustrations and grievances expand as the time goes on!

It is as perpetual as ever.
We need today for India a more relevant and a more genuine democracy ideology. An ideological debate.

Twitter update
Rahul Gandhi wants to introduce internal party elections in the Congress. It is near impossible when there is a deep-rooted nomination party culture there. Youth Congress is a euphemism for dynastic inheritance.

Two Congress Cabinet Ministers from Tamil Nadu call on TN Chief Minister. But they don’t talk of coalition at the state Cabinet! Why the fear?

Photo Courtesy : http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2008/08/29/underwhelmed-alone/

This middle class obsession must be moderated!
Education is all about finding out about own personality and developing the same!
Let the government introduce a one year of national social service!

A gap year before students enter college would make a great deal of change in the Indian education.
Indian education has done much good for the country and the youngsters.

The latest election results also proves that the youth power is now a reality of the Indian democracy.
The point is that India is a great democratic nation and our youngsters are growing up in an open society, the fruits of freedom are now reaching even the very lowest social sectors.
So, this year’s school exam results and also the more prestigious IIT entrance test results show that even the youngsters who come from very deprived backgrounds can break through the barrier and reach the merit list so demonstratively.

So, the youngsters who topped the exam tables deserve the congratulations.
Having said this, we have also to remind ourselves the very many education degeneration that has crept into the Indian education system.

There is a furious commercialisation of education at all levels.
We see the pathetic  scenes of LKG children and their parents getting trapped into this money-squeezing trap.

So much money exploitation, so much artificial donation demands made on poor parents.
So this generation of parents and children will remember, the time of globalisation and upwards mobility, the high noon of consumerism and mall culture also saw the greatest exploitation of the children.

So next comes the multiplication of the secondary schools, matriculations and their own set of exploiters.

In Salem district we see the utterly mind-killing education, children are treated as circus animals and shown to the gullible middle class that the toppers in school exams are the sure winners in life as medical doctors.

So, the next stage of exploitation starts.

In the same neighbourhood we see education sharks! Literally!
The very many illiterates, the milkman and the low grade government servant are today chancellors and educationists.

In Chennai, the state capital we see another set of education exploiters. This time, these worthies are chancellors, MPs and now ministers too.
The whole of Tamil Nadu and now Karnataka too we see a stage of Indian education, the poor Macaulay would not have dreamed of!

The educationists  are now the very barbarians, the so-called educated professional classes are the very philistines, the gullible population, just the populace, to borrow from the high priest of the 19th century British poet and culture critic, Mathew Arnold.

I would urge every Indian educator, more so the new illiterate educators, to read Arnold’s “Culture and Anarchy” a text for this generation’s education enlightenment.
So, where do we go from here?

A new education minister is at the Sastri Bhavan now and what can we expect from this new worthy?
One hopes we in India have an education philosophy that frees us from the mental slavery of the Macaulay syndrome.

Making Indians educated in a new slavery!
We need in the new Indian education a scheme to cultivate patriotism, one India outlook and a new sense of national identity.

To achieve this, let us introduce a one year national social service.
This one year service, in a variety of social fields, from village development to social activists for human rights, dalit right women rights, girl child education etc.

This one year, the gap year can be credited to any one’s college education.
Let us think afresh, think radically and what is good for India, the only shining star of democracy in this part of the world.

Image Source : zaabiz.co.in

Both insightful and also depressing!

Stanley Wolpert

Stanley Wolpert is a distinguished professor and scholar and had written some of the more in-depth books on Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

All these three figures have shaped the destinies of the Indian subcontinent. So, wolpert’s three books have become classics and anyone interested in India must be reading these volumes. I have read these volumes before, may be more than once. Such have been the depth and insights the scholar and writer has brought to his work and his latest volume on the Partition of India too became a minor classic. I bought and read it and re-read it many times.

In fact, I can confess my political education became more self-confident after I read Wolpert as he was the one author who brought some depth and objectivity that unusually misses from what the Indians wrote and continue to write to this day.

We Indians tend to be more reverential to our leaders who are nation-builders and as for Indian freedom struggle there are many controversial issues. Gandhi’s role, Nehru’s role and much more so Jinnah’s role are all still farms from settled.

So, we easily tend  to become subjective and therefore prejudicial to some extent.
Who can give Jinnah full marks? Or, for that matter, who can give Gandhi too full marks for what he finally achieved?

Nehru’s role too is not far from controversial. This book even  after many years of publication(Gandhi’s Passion, The Life and Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi,OUP,2001,pages 300 ) remains afresh for any serious  reader. It is so for me at any rate.

Now, what I like to say here on the life and legacy of Gandhi is this: Gandhi was born ordinary, nothing to commend on the young man as he grew up.

If any reader from outside India reads the autobiography of Gandhi, he or she is likely to be disappointed. There is nothing to recommend for further reading of his life.

His birth, his father’s life and preoccupations, Gandhi’s schooling, his further education, Gandhi didn’t attend a college, he arrived in London when he was eighteen and already married with a child and he becomes a barrister with not much distinction, it was all just routine and his life in Victorian Land too was very ordinary, there was nothing that gave us any indication that this cowardly boy would become a man of steel faced with injustice later in South Africa or after he returned and  plunged into full-time politics, so to say.

His non-co-operation didn’t evoke interest and support among the stalwarts of his day, C.R.Das or Motilal Nehru or Lala Lajpat Rai.

Now, we find that his Satyagraha experiment in South Africa was unique and proved to be very basic to his success later.

In India, he perfected his ahimsa and Satyagraph and the final glory was the salt Satyagraha.
Afterwards, we see a very contradictory personality. Yes, he was busy with negotiations with the British but the final big test was the one when the cabinet mission came and we see the Mahatma faltering at every step.

This came as a revelation now to see Gandhi not taking the cabinet mission as seriously as people would have trusted him to do. We see the mahatma almost treating the cabinet mission non-seriously and he was engaged in much unrelated minor activities like nature cure etc when the cabinet mission badly wanted his guidance.

The sad point here is that finally the cabinet mission failed to deliver. I have to say with all the moral burden cast on meat this point of my life and knowledge and concern for India, that the mahatma was also patently responsible for the cabinet mission failing and thus also failing to save Indian from the eventual fate of partition.

The second most important failure of Gandhi was his total ineffectiveness when the final partition proposal came along.

Mountbatten and even Nehru started to call Gandhi “an old fool” the “old boy” jocularly and Mountbatten and Nehru went along to partition India.

What little Gandhi did was to meet and persuade Jinnah to  give up his Pakistan demand. It was already too late.

The book brings out the many  little incidents and events that saw Jinnah emerging as a rival, Jinnah who was six years junior to Gandhi and both were influenced by Dadabhia Nowroji, both became devoted disciples of Gokhale, both were barristers. Gandhi a failed barrister, there are enough account by himself while we see Jinnah, with a very flashing, Westernised clothes and English language a brilliant lawyer who reached the top in the Bombay bar.

So, we see the endemic rivalry in the two men, Gandhi in an unpredictable manner trying to speak in Gujarati while Jinnah choosing to speak in English, though Jinnah’s mother tongue is also Gujarati!
The book brings out more subtly and at times more sharply how the two men were emerging in their own ways towards the same goal of freedom for India, while Jinnah moving towards a demand for Pakistan and while Gandhi was taken aback and what Gandhi did in these years and months was inadequate to  halt the march of events. Nehru and Patel feared ” he had deteriorated with age”(page 237)

This is a serious error of judegement. This we would easily pronounce in the case of other men, not here in the case of the Mahatma.

But history judges men and affairs more harshly.
Wolpert’s other latest book on India’s partition quotes from hitherto unavailable sources, from the British intelligence reports and we see the other side of the Gandhi story, Gandhi legacy, also the  history of how India was partitioned. The point is that the story of India’s partition was not all one-sided, we can’t blame only Jinnah and  the  British alone, these were not the only guilty parties. What emerges from Wolpert’s researches is the other side, the Indian side ,our heroes are not heroes anymore, history, and objective history would pronounce also a different judgment. Our leaders also had feet of clay. Yes, it is a harsh judgment ,a hard reality to see men and their failings with all courage of our own convictions. We Indians at this stage of our history must become more mature and learn to live without entertaining any more rose-tinted illusions! That is all.

We have to take the history’s judgment as it comes  and pronounced.

Future historians, more so the future historians, may be both Indians as well as foreigners would see that while what the British did, handed over was patently perfidious, what the Indian leaders did, more so Gandhi and Nehru was also unpardonable.

Stanley Wolpert’s other, latest volume on India’s partition brings out more  insightfully the more backroom talks and pronouncements, more on the role of the Mahatama are not in good taste and even in poor taste.

It is one thing to revere great men.
It is another thing, if the great men happen to be political leaders. Even our heroes after the years of familiarity become weak, turn up to be men of guilty.

That is why politics is always a difficult arena where easily instant heroes turn out to become villains very often.

The story of the mahatma seems to be one more instance.

Image Source: international.ucla.edu

TV channels overdid their jobs!
They played up the youth victory theme rather too far and too unbalanced way!
Who are these youths are? They are neither from the poor or the middle classes. They are from the privileged families.

Let us see what this means for the emergence and the evolution of democracy in the country.
Yes, the 15th Lok Sabha has a good number of young MPs, both young men and young women. While M. Sayeed of Lakshadweep is just 26, he won it on the strength of his father the much respected  P M Syeed who won it ten times! Other young MPs, like Noor from Malda are a niece of the late heavyweight Ghani Khan Choudhary and so too others like Shruti Choudhary, 33, in Bhiwani, again she is closely a member of the late Bhansilal of the Sanjay fame!

So one can go on and on.

Most of the highly successful youngsters are either the sons or the daughters of the already privileged political families.

Though one should not underestimate the significance of the election results, the Lok Sabha is a house of most bright youngsters and they are in good strength. 79 MPs are below the age of 40 years of age and 225 MPs are below the age of 50.This is significant.

Also,58 new women MPs, most young and also some well-qualified academically and corporate experience and film world and they are all determined to make a difference to their constituencies  with new ideas and work.

All this is welcome.
We have to have a forward looking attitude and this time it is a sure victory for the youth power and for Rahul Gandhi in particular.

But there are some uncomfortable questions that need to be asked just to give a balance to our election victory euphoria.

There are more criminals this time than before, more crorepatis!

Then there is the urban-rural voting patterns.

In Mumbai the vote was just 40 per cent, in New Delhi it is again just 50 per cent. Only in the rural hinterland, the voting was above 60 per cent.

Every election is a wave. This time the wave was in favour of India’s stength, stability and unity and also secularism and development and a range of hopes.
Thus, caste parties were swept aside, communal parties went up in smoke and even the great many reputations, Lalu Prasad Yadav and  Paswan and many others were laid to rest.
In the states, the all India wave was not fully operational.

The BJP won in seven states, in UP and even in Karnataka there were surprises.
Of course Gujarat apart, there is this governance question.
Yes, people voted for good governance, in Orissa and in Karnataka and AP, we saw this trend.
So, India is maturing, India voters are becoming conscious of development and what it can bring about in transforming their lives.

Just before the voting there was this theme of this election being an issue-less election. After the resutls, there is this projection of an election that generated lots of hopes.
Let us hope this is fully realised.

Now, as for governance, yes, there is much that can be done and must be done.
Luckily, there is one new face, S.M.Krishna who comes with the reputation of making Karnataka, in particular Bangalore as a new focus of development of a new India.
Can we hope that with his presence in the cabinet, the new government in Delhi takes up deploying the IT tools in a big way to improve governance, to bring transparency and a decentralised decision-making in many areas of national life.

Urban governance is as important as governance at many levels, rural India cries for attention.
There is so much  corruption at the lower levels, no less one might say at the higher and highest level too!

In the rural small government offices, no task is easily done and hours and hours of waiting makes life a miserable experience to the vast majority of  the people. So, can we hope that the Manmohan Singh government, this time, is no  more “more of the same”!

There is a penchant for relying on the retired bureaucrats for various jobs.
Why not engage the youth MPs, the motivated young persons with tasks they can be expected to deliver with their energy and idealism!

Lucky again, Mr.Veerappa Moily is also now a cabinet minister. He has produced volumes of administrative reforms.

Now, pray, the new government talks too much about economic reforms, too little practically nothing about the need for political reforms.
Our democracy needs very many reforms. The Constitutional Review committee report is also gathering dust.

There are so many institutional deficiencies.
Electoral reforms, curbing money power in elections, the EC must be also reformed! The EC must have more powers to prevent electoral malpractices.
There are party reforms, party fundings and also a major reform to limit the offices of the PM and the CMs for two terms.

Otherwise, we see what unhealthy tendencies ,as in the case of the  DMK party and also the denial of democratic behaviour for the ruling party, again DMK is a case in point and also more scrutiny of the party constitutions and the party funding sources.

Unless these reforms are affected, the electoral process would tilt in favour of our democracy emerging or even deteriorating into a new form of middle age feudalism of privileges and abuses of privileges.

Image Source: gooclip.net

What it points to? The ideological perspective and the media perspective

The 2009 Lok Sabha elections have certainly given a sweep of sorts. There is an all India perspective to the outcome of the elections. There is a vote for a strong and a stable India. Also, there is a vote for a secular India. The caste and regional parties were convincingly defeated. The Congress emerged as the single largest party. At the same time, it hasn’t got an absolute majority.

The political pundits, from media men, the old hands and the new brash variety have had a free run, so to say.

All manner of interpretations are now given and we are in a better position after a week of the media blitz and much else.

Politics is a very fine field and also it can be a power game and as such a very treacherous field as well.

Time and tide wait for none. So too politics don’t wait for anyone.

We have to take politics as it comes along and let us see what the 2009 election outcome portend.
What are the likely trends, the long and short-term trends?

First, as we have noted this is a massive change in the last 20 years, nearly two decades of political instability is now ended. So, this election becomes a significant trend, a very positive step towards a more mature and a stronger democracy.

So, this is the first and foremost message, it looks as if it is to be a long-term trend.
What is the second feature, if we can call it so, the second most important trend of this election?
Is the BJP finished? Once and for all?
It is not!

A democracy won’t function or survive if there is no opposition party or parties, right?
This aspect has now been forgotten conveniently by all commentators. Media played a very negative and irresponsible role in hiding this important side of the election outcome.
As the BJP men pointed out, that the BJP had won in seven states! Not a significant number of states. And that too in some of the larger states like MP and Karnataka. This fact or this phenomenon must be kept in our perspective, right?

Then comes the third and in some media blitz, it looks like the first and only most significant trend, the triumph of the youth power, the  personal triumph of Rahul Gandhi.
Yes, this is a rise, a steep rise for Rahul Gandhi in Indian politics. He seems to have come of age. May be this time is the time for the rise and consolidation of Rahul Gandhi.
But it is also time and it is good for Rahul Gandhi too to know what his rise at this moment conveys. By way of insights and trends.

The current media blitz, more so on the TV channels, is far from total reality. It is at best only a partial reality.

First, the decision of the Congress to go it alone in UP, Bihar is also as a result of the UP, Bihar leaders, the SP and the RJD and Paswan party to go it alone too. This prompted or made it inevitable to certain extent, for the Congress to go it alone, to use the hackneyed phrase.
The UP results are a reminder that all was not lost for the BJP too. Yes, the Congress won, decisively in a way in a state that it was almost considered a lost cause, with Mayawati making so much noise and making so many nuisances too!

Now, the Congress went alone in UP and Bihar and proved a point. Secularism, development, caste vs. development and much else was proved to be a winner for the poor, the lower castes and the very many castes within the OBC spectrum, as argued by the sociologists.

But then, is it true that it was all for Rahul’s strategy?

Or, is it all for Rahul’s vision etc, as made out by the TV channels? Rajiv Sardesai, Burkha Datta, Karan Thapar became a bit too shriller and what they have done and what the channels are doing in the days after the government formation point towards a brainwashing brand management trip.
Is this all true and will pay any political dividends for all the “stake-holders” so to say?

It is a bit too much of a hard task and better it is avoided.

For anyone who has a sense of history or some perspective or some ideological inclination, Rahul Gandhi’s triumph reminds us somewhat the days when in the early seventie4s of the last century, during the Emergency days and after what Sanjay Gandhi was doing and when he, Sanjay, finally won for the Congress party and installed his mother, Indira Gandhi in power in 1980, there was the very same roaring of the youth power. Also, when Rajiv Gandhi won a massive majority soon after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, there was this wave of the youth power.

The point here is that the youth power is often an unknown quantity. This needs to be kept in mind. That is here matters.

In fact, the TV channels themselves this time brought out the fact that the 15th Lok Sabha is not after all the youth power Lok Sabha.

The 15th Lok Sabha has 79 MPs who are below 40 years of age. As per another study, the first Lok Sabha had more youth!

Also the Indian MPs even in the new Lok Sabha, their average age is higher than what prevails in countries like Japan and other countries. 225 MPs who are below 50 years. There are 58 women MPs, highest so far.

There are more criminals and crorepatis this time. What to make of it?
There are other sociological aspects of the composition of the MPs elected from various castes, regions and even professions.

What to make of the youth power as merely a dynastic nature of the Indian polity as it is evolving.
If every other politician, his or her party only promotes his or her sons and daughters, what is the real significance of the democratic order we are all talking about?

So, it is not a sign of democracy fully flowering in India. It is the feudal and caste and community, the older version of the Hindu caste order in a new garb?

There is much for the study of the nature and significance of the democracy as India is evolving.
Also, there are the other unsaid aspects of the new government.

Is this a genuinely elected and constituted parliamentary democracy? Or, is it just a sort of power-elite, where the administrative, the professional and careerist politics getting the cover of a genuine democracy?

136 from the Congress are crorepatis.150 MPs are with criminal records, as per the Election Watch study.

There are some other aspects of the new government or the tasks for the new government.
The lack of genuine democratic spirit, the Prime Minister is still nominated and also the sort of priorities for the government are far from genuine democratic aspirations that are sought to be imposed on the election verdict.

Even the word, governance, is hiding some uncomfortable truths.
What about the issue of corruption? The election corruption and the role of black money in winning the elections?

Lok Pal, Lokayuta, the role of the CBI, its independence, genuine election reforms, here are also some range of issues and priorities, and  Constitutional reforms, the Constitution Review Committee reports are gathering dust, all this and much more needs to be taken up.

The bureaucracy was a big burden in Indian scheme of things. Manmohan Singh didn’t do much about the administrative reforms. Only now, his wishes to have more bureaucrats around him were not granted! The independence of the judiciary, some peculiar deviations, in judiciary, CBI and some other institutions, including the National Security Adviser and a penchant for retaining old hands and an unwillingness to tap talents from a wider and a newer range, say from IT industry achievers, to deploy IT tools for social change etc are the short-comings of the new government as well, it seems.

Is this not the face of a genuine democratic polity the people of the country have voted for?
Corruption, weeding out corrupt ministers and MPs and much else need to be given thought.
Of course, as we have stated and started this article, politics is all about power and power is always ruthless and also prone to corrupt practices.

It is for the rich and the powerful, the middle classes and also not the so docile power classes who voted for a decisive change all that needs to be addressed.

The role of the opposition parties too need to be put on a more enlightened footing.

Photo Courtesy : www.gontry.com