Mixed signals point to more misfortunes!

The Congress party can’t be in  more dire straits! So many challenges, unprecedented crises!

motilalaThere are any numbers of signals that point to  more troubles. The party heir is absconding. His whereabouts not known? No one in the party said a word! What doom had overtaken?

How can a national party of  the Congress with such past can become so paralysed?

Time to ask questions. Some hard questions. There must be some sound reasons why the party had come to such a pass.

First is the status of Rahul Gandhi who is being pushed by his mother, more than any other one individual in the party at the moment for the coveted chair of the party. You can’t become a leader, that too of a political party and that too in a country like India with is vastness and multiple points of unifying and at the same time divisive forces.

To become an inherited leader of a major party like the Congress in a sort of mature democracy that India is at present is no easy thing.
But the way the Congress is conducting itself is like a cruel joke.

This only proves, sorry to say so in a party and by a person who has been associated with the party from Pandit Nehru days is only proving the increasing realisation that Sonia Gandhi with all her advantages and  favourable circumstances, is not really fit to play the role she is projected to play by her increasingly vested interests. Mr.H.R.Bharatwaj, the long-time Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist, perhaps the most such category when compared with those who are around Sonia Gandhi now, has recently come out to hit at Sonia Gandhi and her chamchas like P.Chidambaram whom Mr.Bhardwaj  named to tell that the  section 66-A of the Indian Information Technology Act which was struck down and which had come as a great blow to the credibility of both the UPA as well as the NDA which as the incumbent government defined the clause so vigorously.

The section, says Mr.Bharadwaj who was a long-time Law Minister under India Gandhi and who played such a crucial role in ‘managing’ the judiciary for Mrs.Indira Gandhi in her various brush with the judiciary. Mr.Bharadwaj also squarely blames others and even cites P.Chidambaram for the insertion of 66-A in the IT Act saying that the UPA regime after all inserted the clause.

Of course, as pointed by a House of Lords Queen’s Bench, using swear words(the Lords had given some words)is pretty common on the Twitter and nobody takes any offence in any such usages.

And here in India, at least from now onwards, we have to realise that the youth, why even the aggrieved common citizen would be impelled to use some such words at an inefficient and erring government agencies and even plain leaders who are perceived to be solely responsible. We have to learn to tolerate the ‘unpopular views’ and expressions of enraged citizens. As one US Supreme Court judge remarked, ‘it is not the business of the government to keep the citizens from falling into error. It is the function of the citizens to keep the government from falling into error! How great!

And the way the arbitrary decisions were taken, it is plain, says Bharadwaj that ‘Sonia remote-controlled the government and was party to all controversial decisions’.

So, we can trust Mr.Bharadwaj when he says that the notorious clause which put many of the youngsters, one was just a class 11th standard and the others were two college-going girls in Mumbai over the face book on the bandh called for Bal Thackeray’s death and one of course is none other than the very son of P.Chidambaram which was also put by one young businessman in Puducherry.
So the Supreme Court’s upholding of free speech is a landmark in India’s evolution as an open society, a liberal and truly democratic society.

This liberation of the youth’s freedom of thought and expression has been justly welcomed by the liberal society and wide sections of the public. The importance of the rights to free thought and speech and expression, especially on the Net, would truly unleash the youth energy for a better tomorrow for Indian youth.
Now, Mrs.Sonia Gandhi accused Mr.Bharadwaj, as doing and acting in such a way she has no accountability for her very many actions that were arbitrary and against the very conventions governance and ethical public conduct for a public person. I say Sonia Gandhi hasn’t understood and appreciates the Indian ethos. Sorry to say so. She doesn’t show humility and sensitivity to ordinary people, let alone the elite and the higher reaches of the elite.

This duality of power, at her level, only, it is now seen, landed the former Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh in his current trouble. Mr.Bharadwaj has some scathing remarks to make here.

The point here is that now  Mr.Amarendra Singh, the Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha  has called for Sonia Gandhi  as the Congress party, she should continue in the same job in which she had stayed for the past 16 years is a travesty of truth and any honesty.

This statement, given Mr.Singh’s credentials, could not have come from his as such but must be from the very same vested interests the very same sycophants and conspirers who surround Ms.Gandhi.

And at what time! When Rahul Gandhi has become such a great liability for the party. I UP and Bareily, his parliamentary constituency and in Allahabad posters have comes up declaring that Rahul Gandhi’s whereabouts are not known! He is declared missing and absconding etc.

This must be quite embarrassing to the many Congressmen and women who have been forced to orchestrate a story that is contrary to their own consciences.
The time has come, I believe, that someone has to come forward and say clearly that Rahul Gandhi has demonstrated conclusively  that he is not willing to take on the leadership as desired by his mother and some few others around her. The whole country, the whole of the Congress party knows and now realise that it is time to search for an alternative leadership.

It is also time to say that the Congress leadership as represented by Sonia Gandhi has also outlived its utility.

She has brought down the  great traditions and principles, conventions and habits, like a sense of selflessness, self-sacrifice  and self-abnegation as brought to bear by countless number of great many persons in the course of the party’s 130 long years of history.

It is also time to say that the  so-called High Command culture under Sonia Gandhi had proved its utter failure.

Yes, when the Mahatma Gandhi leadership gave rise to the High Command  culture, today it is, as Mr.Bharadwaj has noted ,Sonia Gandhi is in ‘the grip of a couple of sycophants and corrupt people’. Only those  who have gone near her, her residence and Rahul Gandhi’s residence know that the duo are first severely guarded as to make any access to them impossible. Second, they, mother and son, also demonstrate a visible contempt for unsuspected visitors. Also, there is  a terrible air of contempt for them also from the staff of the AICC.

She, Sonia, has surrounded herself with  a set of spent forces, most of them are really pensioners living at the mercy of  Sonia Gandhi.

In short, nothing short of an overhaul, pensioning off the aged and decrepit and also opening the gates to newcomers, why even we need an institutional reforms so that there are some good practices, transparency and accountability, even the RTI Act to party’s affairs.

After all the Congress is the mothership of all Indian parties.

If the Congress displays such blatant disregard for internal democracy, certain sense of public accountability, how can we expect other parties, big and small to adopt some best practices in modern democratic governance, first, in the party, next, in the governance of the country?

How can a great 130 year old organisation can make the state of affairs in the party to come to such a pass?

Sonia Gandhi  had been forced to the wall and it is this crisis that had given her the raw courage to launch an all party delegation to the Rashtrapathi Bhavan and also now, with some sham war of letters to counter the BJP move on the land acquisition bill.

Now, this can’t be a one-person battle with an entrenched government.
This has to be a well-thought out counter strategy. Such a strategy nowhere in sight.

If Sonia  doesn’t take time and ponder over her ways, she is sure to find herself pushed aside in the emerging political reality.

A restructuring of the Congress party is  possible  only all the Congressmen and women come to realise that such a restructuring can be made only without imposing Rahul Gandhi on the party.

Poor man. He is clearly unwilling. Why force him. It is a herculean task by any stretch of imagination.  If seniors and serious-minded and intellectually-gifted Congressmen and women don’t come forward to make suggestions for a recovery path for the party, the future would really be grim.

I don’t want to visualise any negative prospect. I want the party to revive on sound principles.  The cardinal principle is truth and transparent thinking.
One, the party  has to come out with a vision document, a new articulation of its political and economic ideology.

Of course, a social and religious reality check, a counter to what is happening in the outside world, the multi-ethnic world in all countries has led to many tensions. From the USA to UK to France, Germany and the Middle East.
A new definition, articulation of secularism for Indian is called for. A robust secularism that goes beyond the current perceptions and policies.
A vigorous articulation of democratic norms for the country.

All these can be done only when the Congress party dissolves immediately the CWC (Congress Working Committee) with representations from all states. Now, the CWC is a hand-picked body only.

Lately, there have been splits within the Congress, as in TN and in AP and other states. Also, as in TN, with latest reports, there is the issue of the party’s huge properties, lands and buildings. The party assets have to be put in a trust with trustees drawn from the states where huge holdings of real-estate are located, as again for instance in TN.

What Sonia Gandhi has done since the party’s defeat in May 2014,is also arbitrary and plain wrong. For instance, she had nominated a film actress, in TN to the TNCC, an actress who was till now very close to the DMK party. She is now the national spokesperson!

This, Sonia has done in a state where the great Kamaraj was the father figure, such a towering personality. This act has done a gross injury to the thousands of Kamaraj loyalists. Also, Sonia sends a wrong signal to the party cadres to indicate she might also forge alliance again with a party indicted for the 2G scam!

Is this party leadership? Party management?
To act and decide things that are patently wrong and even sounds foolish?
Anyway, the  Congress party has to be saved and reformed for the larger interest of Indian’s own political future.

I see this question as a milestone in the evolution and maturing of Indian democracy.

There is a troublesome transition path for the Congress party, in the sort and the long-run. It has to overcome some difficult court cases and other sensitive questions to establish its credibility.

sonia-gandhiPeople ask me why I still cling to the Congress party. I am not. Not to the present structure of the party, as a dynastic succession issues at all!

I see the Congress party, in terms of its history and its ideology. The Congress party ideology, in my view, has a universal, international perspective.
Democracy, secularism and individual freedoms, human rights etc.

Not any other sectarian, short-term and short-sighted divisive ideology would suit Indian diversity, Indian ethos. How we understand our times? How our times would impact us? How we can impact our times? By our constant engagement with politics as a public duty.

This is how I see politics in India. Now, when we come to the current time, the latest landmark judgement in the TN Chief Minister, J.Jayalaitha’s conviction and sentencing of her for four years imprisonment and a fine of Rs.100 crores is a watershed in the evolution of Indian democracy.

Indian public life won’t be anymore the same. So too the emerging Modi regime with its unique novelties and also some trends. Money, muscle power played a great role. Moneyed candidates are now the reality.

So, from now on, we can expect more corruptions, more large-scale corruptions by the high and he mighty would become the norm of political life in India.
Why, the latest, the most shocking news is that the CBI would question Ratan Tata in the Unitech reality case!

So, we have to expect more exposures and more likely corruption cases and even conviction of the mighty in politics and corporate world could become a reality.
Only in that larger perspective I see politics, my own political beliefs and convictions must have some resonance.

As the Brazilian, Harvard-based philosopher, Roberto Mangabeira Unger (FT Sunday Oct 4) says “you should die only once!”He means politics is a self-transformation and you should do it yourself and you must somehow “muddle through!”.That is okey, he says.

But for me politics is to speak the truth, come what may and also do what you think is morally right and correct. Political activist, political philosopher, simple protest will all the same in a significant sense!

The Congress party as it is almost caught in a dilemma. It is obsessed with one dynasty, one family. That surely won’t do, won’t survive. To see the reality or shut its eyes!

How long this non-activity can help the current players?

The very political landscape seems to be changing in India.

So far, it was a highly Centre-left political spectrum   that seemed to hold good for the Indian people. Not anymore?

Yes, it looks like that. The sweeping victory of Mr.Narendra Modi and his BJP party both in the Lok Sabha elections and now in the Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, two very powerful politically trend-setting sates gives the clear indication that the average voters of India have turned the tide in favour of Centre-Right politics.

Apart from the immediate party and or parties and the politicians interests are concerned there is clearly a new economic trend.

Many relaxations of laws from FDI to Labour laws show that the economy is very much in need of such reforms and relaxations.

With the latest labour law reforms, there is now an end in sight for the total elimination of the licence raj. Here, only one more relevant point is that along with the high subsidy welfare programmes we also need a relaxation of the land reforms laws. Please relax the agricultural landownership laws, from ceiling to tenancy reforms so that new investments could flow. There are still some of the outdated land related laws. And these must also go.

Now, the Congress party under Sonia Gandhi is in the dumps. For the simple reason that the president and the vice president of the party, mother and son, haven’t show much interest or enthusiasm to motivate the cadre and the leaders to plunge themselves into the election battle.

The new government has already started or the very process of governance is such that we are seeing some unusual and maturing process of some of the long-pending court cases involving the high-ups facing the heat of the rule of law.
One is the conviction of the TN Chief Minister, Jayalalitha who has now been given bail and the conditions imposed by the Supreme Court are unusual, to say the least. There is also the warning not to drag the courts for too long.

There are other high profile cases soon coming to a close. The 2-G cases, the Maran brothers and also now the media exposures are such that Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi is also exposed for his land deals. With the powerful Haryana Chief Minister is losing power in the state; it is very likely these cases against the dynasty are likely to see the light of the day. No less serious is the case filed by Dr.Subraminiyanswamy against Sonia and Rahul in the National Herald newspaper change of ownership deal.

Apart from the   court cases we have seen what is happening to the Congress party in the atleast 5 months or so since it lost power. Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul care to change, it seems.

They follow their own ways, old ways too. They show a distinct contempt for the public. They don’t see visitors, not easily; never had they shown there is a change in the country as well.

They live a highly protected life. If you want to lead a party like the 128 year old Grand National party you must certainly have certain qualities of mind and head.
They don’t have any, it seems.

They don’t talk, give interviews and they don’t seem to be interacting with their own party leaders. Recently, we saw two events that give us the coming things.
The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee and the Karnataka Congress Committee saw different events. One, Shashi Tharoor, the Congress MP who spoke in favour of the Prime Minister Modi. The KPCC demanded disciplinary action. At the end he was removed from the party spokesman position.

The Karnataka PCC president and the state chief minister  went all the way to Belgaum in north Karnataka to receive  Sonia  Gandhi who came to participate in an election rally in Kolhapur in Maharashtra across the border. The two dignitaries just only managed to greet her. She didn’t stop to talk to them, to listen to their petitions for appointing state board chiefs. Nor they were able to talk to her on her return back in the same route. She just got down from her helicopter and changed over to the plane and flew away from Belgaum!

What sort of leadership is this?

No doubt, there are signs now that the PCCs are now asserting.
The duo didn’t also show much interest in the crucial two state Assembly elections. Thank god, that Rahul didn’t show much interest in the elections. First, he knows that in Maharashtra he doesn’t matter. There are more powerful politicians. A leader like Sharad Pawar can’t be dealt with by a novice-like Rahul Gandhi. Nor Rahul’s penchant for selecting candidates could be proved a fake step.

Rahul neither fits into the traditional seniors-led Congress party nor is he really able to win over friends and influence people. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, let us admit, are not good speaker, let alone orators.

If things stand at this fashion, we can say with certainty that the Congress party would be sidelined as one more regional force, if at all or one more Congress faction among the many. In no big state the Congress party is now a force.
What shood, be done to revive the party if at all?

There are no easy answers. Mr.Modi is almost taking over all the Congress names and also schemes like clean India, work hard India campaigns.
These are all at best old style Gandhina schemes.

But there are certain deeper questions here. One how far Mr.Modi can really take on the serious economic and ideological questions.

He has to speed up economic growth. But then economic growth has its own logic and also own historic constraints. You can’t grow when the world growth is constrained. Now, the America’s unemployment rate is at 6% but is falling. Nor much. EU growth is not going up. Rather there is recession in Germany, the largest EU country and economy. Japan, Russia is also not growing.

China is growing smoothly at 7.5%, says The Economist magazine. As for India’s no one has taken note of. Growing or not growing?

Let the government explain. FDI is welcome but unless the global economic growth is vigorous, where will you get the incentive for the FDI to flow in?
These are all tough questions for everyone, including the Indian Prime Minister.
FDI, a very insignificant percentage of the GDP is not alone enough.
You have to create a conducive environment here.

See the Nokia and Foxconn cases. Nokia is closed for ever. Foxconn’s iPhone, iPad (Apple’s spare parts manufacturing contract manufacturing unit, both, Nokia and Foxconn units, large units in Sriperumbudur had located, Foxconn to Brazil.
So, what Modi should be doing? Good the PM acted fast and reformed the labour laws.

That is decisive first step. Then, there are some highly complex issues like coal allocation, iron ore mining leases, telecom spectrum allocations.

The PM must resolve them quickly before he can think of inviting new investments.

Tax issues that hit Vodafone might not recur.

Yes, we can give the PM more time. But this is the basic reality.
As for the parties, Mr.Modi might try to wipe-out as many opposition parties in power as he can. Including in TN too.

But then there are certain basic broad outlook. Dynastic politics wont matter anymore, There has to be a push from somewhere from outside or from inside for the party, we mean, the Congress party to find its feet in the new challenging circumstance.

Let us hope some new forces, new faces are seen sooner, rather than later! It looks like the current status quo deceptively a permanent arrangement. Surely, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi don’t know where to go from here.

For Sonia Gandhi this is really the most tough time. Politics is a ruthless game. We are sure Sonia Gandhi must have learnt some lessons by now.

She should volunteer to help the Indian people to find their own indigenous ways. Sooner the better.

This is also a historic opportunity!
Why the Congress Party remains relevant?

congressJust now I recorded my video on the subject of the Indian political scenario and posted the same on the Net. To make my views more clear and precise and to give the subject a historic context and also to emphasise certain points of my argument here I write this blog.

The 2014 Lok Sabha elections in India had reduced the once-mighty Indian National Congress party, 130 years old movement that fought for Indian Independence and ruled the country for all these post-Independence years, with few interruptions, to a rump of just 44 MPs in a house of 544 MPs.

Also, significantly, the winning party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a decisive absolute majority. That was significant for this is the first time since some 30 years there were only coalition governments.  So, that gives the Indian polity a new political stability that was missing for the past three decades.

Now, the latest development is that after some 9 months of absolute majority and also winning some of the important states Assembly elections, in Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Jharkhand the confident Mr.Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister had to face a humiliating defeat at the hands of a new, small party, namely, the Aam Aadmi (AAP).The Congress became a zero in Delhi! It is a great shame and a shock for the Grand Old Party!

Mr.Modi’s carefully cultivated image of invincibility is broken. Also, Mr. Modi is facing some criticism, though still muted, for his inability to match his promises with deeds.
Now, the Congress party is faced with a crisis of credibility and even an identity crisis.
The public perception has also changed.

The people at large see the newly successful AAP as a credible alternative to the Congress party.
No one, neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi or anyone else in the Congress seems to have any clue. I refrain from commenting on both Sonia and Rahul for obvious reasons. I was recently in New Delhi and had met some senior Congress leaders, notably, Motilal Vohra and A.K.Antony who are also confidants of the party president.

From what I saw at the AICC, the party headquarters and elsewhere there is a distinctive feeling the Congress party has lost its nerve. All the powerful leaders, who were Cabinet Ministers and others who enjoyed enormous power and perks, including the former Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, the former New Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit have become silent (they didn’t show their faces in the Delhi Assembly election campaigns, nor the former ministers who lost their elections, once elected from Delhi Parliamentary constituencies didn’t show their faces either.

So, the Congress remains demoralised. No one knows what will happen next. No new thoughts or ideas or action. How long can this non-action are sustained? No one seems to have a clue.
It is in this context and at a time when there is non-action and when the party faces new challenges, it is now asked to vacate its headquarters as well (!), I thought I must give my thoughts on the crisis faced by the party and also what can be done.

Just luckily I also read the latest edition of The Economist weekly (February 21st-27th 2915) on the ‘Britain’ electoral system’. I thought I must bring it to the attention of the Indian readers, in particular to the attention of the Congressmen and women all over India to say that there is much reason, both historical and ideological, to believe that there is a great future for the Congress party.

Britain, the oldest modern democracy is celebrating the 800th year of the Magna Carta, the first charter that gave rights to the barons, the subjects of the British King John.  The Westminster model of British Parliamentary democracy is the oldest in the world, the mother of all parliaments.

The British political system is also old; the two oldest parties are the Conservative and the Labour party. The ideologies were again two, one Conservative, class system, the Opposition, first Liberals and later the Labour. Now, there are five parties, except the two main parties, all are small and they don’t count at the national level.

The Economist article analyses the current political crisis there where there are challenges to the two party systems with the emergence of the splinter parties, three new ones, Scottish National Party, the UK Independent party and the other the Green. House of Commons has 650 MPs.
The article analyses the various issues, voters, apathy, the preponderance of the migrant voters, in some 65 constituencies there are significant 25% share of the migrant voters. So, the Labour party as well as the Conservatives have put up more BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) candidates as their candidates.

I want every concerned reader to download this article from The Economist (Economist.com).
The critical point of the article is that in spite of the new small parties (the new ones are called as ‘insurgents’) they can only contribute to a weak government at the Westminster.

In India the regional, cattiest or nationalist or separatism-oriented parties can only weaken the Central government in India. As the experience so far has proved.

Otherwise, there would always be a need for two broader national-level formations, one, Centre-Right and the other, Centre Left.

In the Indian context, given India’s vast size and diversity, there can only be two political formations, two broad ideologies, Centre-Left-Liberal and Centre-Right-Hindutva. However much we try, this long-term perspective is unlikely to change in India. This is the main thesis.

The Congress has a long tradition. Its key ideologies are democracy, secualrism and a left-oriented free market economy. For the BJP or other rightwing parties too, it can only be democracy, Hindutva and free market economy only.

The very democratic compulsions would demand this two party system formation only.
Coalition politics may come and go. But the future points towards a dual party system only.

So, whatever be the immediate, short-term future of the Congress party, the long-term seems to have a built-in compulsion towards a two party, two ideological systems only. As for the BJP too, there can’t be any other drastic change of course except to move further towards a right-wing party.

Of course, we need intellectuals like Amartya Sen, Jagdish Bhagwathi and even Dr.Manmohan Singh to articulate the aspirations and hopes  of the people in a more agreeable and rational  way.

The role of intellectuals in Indian political space has been rather nil almost. Or, modest at best.
Freedoms in India, freedoms of all types, personal or media freedoms, are all hedged between an over-weaning fear of the authority and the pressures of the more powerful elements in the society and polity.

Even the upper classes, be they corporates or the otherwise rich and powerful or the middle classes and even the lower classes are highly conditioned by the all-encompassing fear.
This is an inheritance of sorts, inherited from a series of long-times invasions and occupations of the country. Inferiority complex, an inner cowardice, servility and unquestioned submission to authority have characterised the Indian personality.

Unfortunately, Indian intellectuals, settled on foreign soil or inside India, have adhered to these basic failings.

Argumentative may be Indians. But this argumentativeness is only in closed circles, not even on the campuses, there is always this low self-esteem, especially among the academics. Not just academic freedoms, they are nowhere. No freedoms in India are as absolute as in the British or even in the European sense. Indians of this generation are yet to understand what the concept of individual liberty is. Even our concept of democracy, democratic norms, the very many nuances are yet to be made known and appreciated.

So, when Amartya Sen wonders why link nomination of a chancellor of a university   to academic freedom, it is an abstruse argument.  He hasn’t understood the brutal side of political power, the raw power. Only when you come down to the ground level reality in India, you would realise your arguments fall off, reality bites you, brutally hurts you!

It is unfortunate, these intellectuals didn’t play any robust roles on previous occasions, except when they got wounded (as Dr.Singh) or bruised (as Sen) or Dr.Bhagwati who went out of his way and slipped out the judgement. He said (too early I think)’Modi is a gift of God’ to India!

They didn’t utter a word when Dr.Singh, their close colleague once, was Prime Minister for 10 long years. When many wrongs occurred. Also, as one reader in a prominent business daily pointed that Prof.Sen was rather a guilty party, as, as the reader points out, when  Jyoti Basu, the long-serving Chief Minister of West Bengal politicised the Bengal academic appointments and thus ruined  the famous university of Calcutta and the Presidency College.

We need  much more  honest self-appraisal of our arguments as to how the Indian polity is evolving and what we  must be doing next.

Macaulay destroyed the Indian ethos!

Now, the New Barbarians seek the destruction of the very basis of the Indian ethos!
The rise of the new middle class! The rise of the new underclass!
See the capital city of New Delhi!

sonia and rahul gandhiThe New Delhi Assembly election campaign saw the very contradictions in which we, Indians thrive so beguilingly unconcerned, illegitimate and so totally immoral! New Delhi electorate gives a new Indian phenomenon of neta-babu-cop dominance! What New Delhi exemplifies, the rest of India would flaunt tomorrow! The 5 lakh central government servants, one senior journalist has estimated, carry each day home some minimum Rs. 5,000 as hafta! Not to speak of the deals etc. made by the middle and the so called upper-middle classes of New Delhi, the privileged Lutyens zone occupants!

The Rs. 5,000 hafta is made through the very composition of the Delhi underclass. One more estimates is: vendors and cycle rickshaws far outnumbers babus and netas. Delhi has 5 lakh cycle rikshaws. Only 75,000 of them have municipal licenses. The rest are illegal and they pay bribes. This comes to Rs.6 crores a year. Delhi has 6 lakh street hawkers. Only 5% have licenses. The rest pay bribes. This daily criminalization of life in urban Delhi is a brutal reality of India.

In this blatant reality of injustice, brutality and immorality also accommodates the Rs.10 lakh-costing suti and pant Prime Minister Narendra Modi wore when he went to see US President Barack Obama, side by side the otherwise patently pretending other netas, Rahul Gandhi and the muffler-man Kejriwal who talks of revolution at the bottom pit. With so much of widespread corruption, black money and compromise with the way the average Indian life is run now, let us not debase ourselves further by talking with no intention to do anything seriously.

The very way we live, with such big bungalows  we are occupying in Lutyen’s Delhi, with so much unaccounted funds that we spend for our ‘doing politics’, how can we really believe ourselves when we talk of big issues? This is the trouble with our politics. We don’t believe in what we say and do! This hypocrisy is what the voting public has come to understand and that is one big reason why the Congress was voted out. Now, with other players like Mr. Modi and others, we have only to wait to see what difference these newcomers would bring about? Will the crony capitalism disappear?

Unlikely! We have swept aside under our carpet so much baggage. Modi calls for a clean India. Let the PM try to clean and clear the pending legations for reforming the electoral funding, transparent politics, and governance and adopt a more democratic functioning. Otherwise, this rush to brush aside every indiscretion might lead to what the French now call a ‘totalitarian democracy’. History could be a warning to our PM, beware! No revolution, let alone the French type hyperbole are likely in India where we had learnt to live so long under successive invaders.

Our Indian way of life is shaped, yes, by our great saints and rishis, if you like but we lost our way around the 10th century once invaders started to come repeatedly. Alexander the Great was the first invader, then the Mughals and then the British. In spite of all that we had some modern-day wise men, start from Rajaram Mohan Roy, Tagore, Gandhi and finally Pandit Nehru. They brought modernity and wetsernisation values that penetrated Indian minds. But then, this long period of foreign invasions and domination had conditioned the Indian mind to obey, plead, submit and surrender etc. The qualities that gave the Indian mindset a certain flavour, not all very complimentary.

Now, what is Indianness?

Unfortunately, our present set of leaders, both from the Congress and the BJP don’t seem to have a clue to India’s present and also its future. Indian civilization values need to be reconstructed afresh, it seems. Hinduism and Buddhism the great religions had spread all over the Asian and South East Asian continent. Then comes the other contributions! Lately, there have been some debates and discussions about the contribution of Indian ancient, from Aryabhatta and others, to mathematics, to science, medicine and philosophy. But then history is one and it is history and its paths that are well-established. So, we have to acknowledge the Greeks, the Romans and Italian Renaissance and the European Enlightenment.

The ideas and concepts like liberty, democracy, republic, equality and fraternity have to be acknowledged for our further progress, right. However much you want to twist history, you can twist only that much, not more! The world has studied history only in one way that is according to some empirical, Western critical tradition only. Let us at least from now onwards learn to become a modern, civilized nation whom the world will know and have trust in us, as mature people, a mature democracy.

Likewise, we can’t also twist the democratic norms. Democratic India has practiced and won universal fame. So, we have to respect democratic norms too. The BJP party for one has to practice some transparency. The BJP has given to the Election Commission an expenditure of Rs.714,28,57,813 as its election expenditure but like the Congress and BSP, NCP, CPI and CPI(M) the BJP too refuses to comply with the directions to appoint an Information Commissioner to attend to RTI enquires. BJP must take the lead and become more transparent as to the sources of election funds.

This can come more and more if we have an education system that is vibrant, forward-looking and by all standards comparable with the international developments. Can we underestimate sciences, modern historical methods and also can we restructure our education on certain prejudices, arising out of narrow religious bigotry? The Hindutva education is sheer folly.
Studying languages have to be voluntary, free choice. Now, we see the realities.

There are many numbers of private illegal schools, here, in the South in TN and Karnataka. Why even in Delhi we see the private nurseries functioning without any explicit regulations. If at all, the new government can banish the menace of money in commercializing education so grossly. Much more, our universities that are now great scandals. No infrastructure, no faculty, great many vacancies and yet we promise new universities.

Where do we go from here?

What mental make-up you have brought about in the last many months you are in power. You don’t become a minister out of no qualifications, right? Every new minister needs great many expertise, experts around you to give you’re the needed inputs. Who are the experts advising the HRD minister? They are all and sundry and surely, they won’t take you anywhere. Where are the public intellectuals? You need Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Amartya Sen and also Jagdish Bhagwathi and any number from the US best universities and UK’s too. The world is one, globalising one, you can’t produce an education that has no meaning for the outside world, right?

The New Delhi political culture is not a healthy one, as it is. It is dominated by very many narrow, vested interests, too many bureaucrats, lawyers jostling for standing space! The Indian bureaucracy, as it had evolved has destroyed the Indian peoples’ character. The Prime Minister under our Constitution is a very well-undefined institution, as observed by the 5-member bench of the Supreme Court. So, what the PM needs now is no more the showmanship but substance and inner questioning. Take the people along. People who can contribute to the idea of India!
India is a great country and civilisation. We have got the wonderful historical opportunity to play a role in the comity of nations.

India, since Independence, had earned its credentials by way of deep thought and wise statesmanship. Gandhi and Nehru and their colleagues came out of the great long struggle for freedoms. So, let us respect their wisdom. Let us build a fresh from the foundations. Indian education, in our view, must give the Indian mind a new and bold self-confidence. We have to shed the subservience, servility, cowardice and  compromising mind with truth. Democracy, freedoms, human rights, rules of law and of course a free-market economy and social justice are the very creeds of the Indian people. Let us build a vibrant India as an ‘education for the world’, the very words uttered by Pericles to the Athenians some 2,500 years ago!