How the Sonia-Singh dispensation has brought about a corrupt political class nexus with corporate power.
P.Sainath in The Hindu says how the top two CEOs helped to save the Singh government survive the trust vote in 2008!
What values drive our national vision? Anyone spelt out?
Reflections on European political parties and elections
There are clear political ideologies!
Here what we have except political dynasties?
In Europe the parties alternate between Right and Left
Here we have an unholy alliance with the corporate families and the political families, right?
This is true for the Congress, for the Samajwadis and every other parties!
In addition, we have not even committed politicians, just bureaucrats-turned politicians or upstart lateral entrants. They bypass the traditional party men and women and they usurp power for no legitimate commitments to the poor or the downtrodden. That results into more regressive inequalities, growing inequitable distribution of wealth and also a flawed conception of what constitutes economic well-being and a shared national vision.
Where ideology is over-looked it is the opportunists and the power-brokers and the sundry men and women now in power are the result. Sycophancy at its worst is the current scenario in Delhi.
What values drive our nation vision? Anyone spells out?
In Greece Socialists win a new election. So too in Portugal, another win for the Socialists. In Germany too a centre-right wins. In UK Labour is widely predicted to lose and the Conservatives are expected to win.
The recent elections in Europe, in Germany and now in Greece saw some interesting twists and turns, so to say.
In Germany, the centre-right parties won. The “grand coalition” between Ms.Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union(CDU) and the Social Democratic Party(SPD) lost and the new “coalition” of her own party along with the Bavarian(always known for its right wing politics)now ,the Christian Social Union(CSU)won the elections, the lowest vote count in 60 years won and Merkel retains her job. The new partner is a liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) which puts freedom before equality!
The new German coalition is, as The Economist puts,” more pro-equality and pro-state than the liberals.
The new government will pursue “economic sense and social balance”.
There is a strong dose of consensus-seeking culture in German politics.
The German government is now all concerned with how to cope with the USA-induced economic crisis and how to recover.
Far down south in the EU, in Greece there has now been a new election, the latest and the winner there is the Socialists, the ousted conservatives lost to the left party.
The new Prime Minister has a pedigree, his father and grandfather were Prime Ministers and in a way Greek politics now looks like a dynastic politics like in India!
But the political parties and their political culture in Europe is very farm from the Indian pattern.
Here, we have a very strange political culture.
Even in UK where the fight is between the Labour and the Conservatives and even in small countries like Spain, Italy and latest in Portugal, there is a strong tradition of left, now the Portugal Socialist party, centre-left won, Jose Socrates, the Prime Minister is back in power, and the centre-right in Portugal is Social Democrats.
Why I refer to these older political parties, parties that have strong roots in well-defined and well-governed Europe, is that they have some clearly articulated attitudes to politics and governance.
In France of course, we have the rightwing Gallists (Sarkozy’s party) and the Socialists whose roots too run deep and have their own social and economic ideologies.
Now, in India where do we, Indians stand?
We have the Indian National Congress which is both and right and left!
That is the dilemma or calls it the contradiction, the ideological contradictions suit Indian genius for compromise or for sheer political opportunism?
Now, we have some deeper issues to ponder over and that is one more occasion to take note of how our democracy is evolving.
The latest Human Development Index gives us not a big credit. We are just 132 out of 185 countries and on many important parameters, education, health and child mortality, longevity of life etc, India seems to be doing very badly.
To be told that in infant mortality rate we are below many of the most backward states, in all continents, in Asia, in Africa and even South America. We seem to be doing so badly when we are compared with our own small neighbours, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and even Nepal and of course so well done is Bhutan!
So, what to do?
Neither the Prime Minister nor Sonia Gandhi, not to mention the President and other luminaries (there are too many in the PM’s inner circles) care to comment or engage the public concern at the rather deteriorating (what else we can say at the stand still performance?)State of affairs, be it equity or access or strategy or allocations of funds.
Then comes the news about the austerity drive that turned to be a farce and a joke and much twittering!
The austerity drive proved to be a trigger for open discussion of the CEOs salary packages. At least this time, it was one more occasion to discuss the topic.
Now the CEOs salaries in India seem to be excessive but compared with what went on in the American banks, we can see there is an all-round sensitivity about the growing disconnect (that is the right word at the moment) between the ruling establishment and the ruling elites (where again in India nowadays every election throws up new millionaires and croepatis and these days only the most rich and the greedy seem to have the appetite for electoral politics.
To compound the growing murkiness of Indian politics, Sonia Gandhi also seem to be contributing increasingly with her ,first, nomination of the President’s own son against a sitting Congress MLA and also an incumbent minister of some standing.
Now, we can see there is a tendency within the Congress party to go for the most brazen trends in politics, every other minister has his or her son or daughter nominated to context elections.
If this trend continues or allowed to continue, sooner rather than latter, the quality of Indian politics will deteriorate and degenerate to the point of parties becoming just oligarchies and the entire public realm, the public funds too would be controlled and distributed among the political elites.
What the Congress party is doing would be only imitated by the other parties, this is already happening in the NCP, Samajwadi party, in the dominant Maharashtrian parties. As for the regional parties, the trend has already reached its limits as in the DMK and others.
So, the question to be asked at this point of time, in the way the Indian polity is governed is: what is the current and the immediate future of the Congress party?
Is it standing for any ideological issues or commitments? Or, is it just a kichidi of contradictions all the way?
This is a serious question for any expediency or non-concern might contribute to further deterioration of the quality of politics and governance in the country.
India is the largest democracy and India is often compared with China which has just now celebrated its 60th anniversary of its founding. China, as we all know, despite its immense achievements, doesn’t give India much comfort. Rather it is emerging as India’s permanent trouble-giver in one way or other.
And unluckily, India has its own multi-party system, our other parties, the Left, the CPI (M) and the Maoists, in particular don’t hide their inspirations from China.
The CPI (M) is clearly a negative force and their contribution to our polity seems almost zero. The CPI is ineffective and so too other left parties.
The Indian intelligentsia is also divided and they don’t have a unified view of where India is going?
The political and ideological issues have to be debated by our intellectuals much more systematic way. Besides our NRI intellectuals too seem to have no clear views, not much positive views on India’s future.
I was particularly felt disheartened by such intellectuals like Amartya Sen and Sunil Khilani, two names in the news often as authorities on India. They are not helpful, as Sen’s latest book on justice quotes Mao on democracy! And Khilani too seem to give India any helpful guide for the future.
The China vs. India debate is always, it seems to me, loaded against India.
China’s economic strength is lauded.
But its political authoritarianism is always down-played.
Only rarely we get some foreigners to go into the nitty-gritty of the many human rights violations, China’s one-party systems very inherent violent rendering of justice to the many victims.
Why don’t Indians now at least stand up and talk and use Western political jargon to discuss our own politics.
Now, is India a Democracy? In what many ways?
In what many ways it fails the test of democracy and democratic governance?
Is India a Socialist Democracy or a Democratic Social liberalist country?
Is our economic reforms and much of the talk of economic growth rate a serious flaw?
What sense it makes to talk of economic growth rate, as our leaders and mandarins talking about, day in and day out?
In the light of the poor HDI rating for India what more we want to convey by our senseless talks of economic growth.
In my view, the very democratic process we have been adopting, to have Prime Minister nominated, Sonia Gandhi retaining all powers is an anachronism.
This reality we have to confront sooner than later.
The Congress party as well must adhere to its old traditions.
There must be democratic process at all levels.
India is a large and a diversified country.
The states must have autonomy; national level parties must have autonomous PCCS and party elections as well.
There is an urgent need to political reforms, constitutional reforms, and electoral reforms.
Even in China there is a semblance of party elections, He is supposed to hand over power. But here in India the Congress party doesn’t think it is time for the party president to change place.
India, despite its creditworthy 62 years of freedom, is yet to learn sound democratic traditions in both the party and the government.
We should also reform our parties, let there be a healthy competition, let us have a two party system, and some smaller parties too can thrive.
We have to evolve into two broadly left and centre or centre left or centre-right political fronts, very much like what is happening in European parties.
We can’t have a democracy very like a shadowy Russian or other inherently contradictory values, where much arbitrary power is exercised by extra-constitutional authorities.
It is time, the Congress party and its Working Committee ponders over reorganising the party structure, more on liberal and genuine democratic basis.
Let the Working Committee think of sending out a team to study the party organization and management of some of the major parties in the major democracies like the USA, UK, France and Germany.
We have to deal with more complex issues in the coming days. Our mega is at best only like a stimulus package to overcome some short-term crisis, as in the Western countries.
We need a deeper study and analysis and vision for an economic system, yes, it can be capitalist system but with equity built into the system, to distribute wealth in an equitable way so that the growing disparities are reduced or brought under tolerable control and acceptable levels.
Any talk of economic growth must now be seen only in terms of new set of parameters, equity, justice and ecology, environment, climate change, health and education and such basic necessities.
We have to banish the scourge of malnutrition etc.
It is time India starts with a clean slate.
Photo Courtesy : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe