There are an exodus faces and talents from the PMO!
What is really happening? Where will this cowardly new situation take us?
The PMO is an exalted office where the country’s “chief executive” operates. The Prime Minister in a Parliamentary Democracy occupies a very unique and aura-driven position. Whatever little or not so little event or activity takes place in the PMO is big news for everyone.
But unfortunately, the PMO, under the present incumbent is devoid of any news or any activity. This is what seems to the distant citizens as well as to others at large. When Sonia Gandhi nominated Dr.Manmohan Singh, in her place as she decided to do a “sacrifice” the country lauded her and her nominee.
Now, after one full term and into a new term, the office of the Prime Minister, the persona seems to have lost its aura or what little was left of the persona occupying such a high office. Dr.Singh doesn’t receive any visitors of substance, from among the citizens or great talents, such as intellectuals or artistes or any out of the way acts or activities that attracts public notice.
When Pandit Nehru was in the office, how many talents, the galaxy of intellectuals, the economists, the scientists and even an odd artist or writer like Andreau Malraux or even the young Dom Moraes called on Nehru, such meets made great news! Not any more, alas. Even when Mrs.Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister we had such glimpses of the workings of the PMO. Not any more now!
Dr.Singh doesn’t reply to mail from ordinary citizens, nor he receives such humble souls nor is he interested to meet the press. There is a highly paid press secretary to assist the PM. But there are no press briefings nor any high profile press conferences. Then, how do the people know what the Prime Ministers’ ideas are on several important issues, both in the domestic area or in the international arena. Is this a democracy at all, one sometimes has to wonder.
There is a new book in the market, one by John Kampfner, Democracy, Freedom for Sale and the book has been widely reviewed in the Western press. The Guardian editor, Peter Preston, has reviewed it in the following terms. The book’s thesis is that, the author has travelled widely in Singapore, where he was born as a Brit, then travelled to Russia, China, of course, India and then he also covers the United Arab Emirate, of course USA and UK where he lives in London.
His thesis is that everywhere it looks that democracies, new and old, have excluded the poor and the vulnerable from the economic development and social participation. So, says Preston in his review that it looks democracies is run by some people for some people! That is, the more prosperous, the more successful, the professional middle classes and the successful corporate classes, as in India, seem to have become successful political classes as well!
This aptly suits India, doesnt it?
Indian democracy, as the latest 2009 Lok Sabha elections showed, why fully demonstrated the thesis of the book, that in the Lok Sabha we have a large number of such successful people, the dynastic heirs, the contractors turned corporate class and of course the MPs with a criminal record. And yet, we hear as the PM and Sonia Gandhi exerted us on the Election Commission celebrations that only those with a clean record must enter the Lok Sabha or context elections. The PM also echoed the same sentiment when he said that only clean people must enter the Legislatures. Then, see the irony!
It is Sonia Gandhi who finalized the list of contests. It is Dr.Singh who concurred with the list.
So, what these people are talking? They imagine that they are not fooling the people?
Of course in other countries there are not many freedoms either. In Singapore it is almost a one party state, a police state where a large number of Opposition leaders often spend time in jail or the journalists are put there. As in China and Russia too where the press is jailed for writing anything against the state and there are on last country some 17 journalists were murdered in Russia. Also very much resembling India, we have in Russia the class of oligarchs, who very much resemble the new MPs who control vast quantities of funds and other resources!
As for corruption, we in India are not better than others, or rather we are as good as other corrupt countries are. So, we have a society and polity, considering the way, the Prime Minister is unaccountable, the author of the book writes on Indian in a pointed manner that in 2008 Indian Parliament met only for 46 days!
So, cant we ask the same uncomfortable questions as asked in these countries? To quote Preston again, it is better to savour the words of such a veteran journalist:”Government for some of the people for some of the people (the ones who matter).Election by clique, twist and fiddle, Lip service to public service. And fear rippling onwards, as rationale or excuse.”
He again hits us in the face. He asks: “Where will this cowardly new world go when the threat is real? Is there a strong man who will burst through the facade and construct a rescue pact? It is the next stage the books take us and one more reason, says the reviewer, to read the book.
We say to draw lessons for Indian democracy’s next stage or next stage of likely danger! The PM is credited with the tag of an honest man. No doubt about it. But then as he says inside the book in more substantial passage, when we mention the name of the PM in India, he says that the very affluent and articulate middle classes say over dinner conversation they fall silent, there is some “intrigue, disdain and apathy”!
Why this disdain, this intrigue and apathy?
We know it. Simply because we Indians are hypocrites, we only look after ourselves, not think of the country as a whole. That is the danger lurking ahead of us.
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