New questions and new uncertainties stare at our polity!
Our Parliamentary democracy hides too many ethical and moral issues!
A series of scams and scandals have impacted democracy and democratic practices into dangerous crisis mode.
Not just the scams and scandals alone trigger the many other equally newer questions at the future of Indian democracy.
The new phenomenon of Anna Hazare campaign, its undoubted public success, the Parliament’s “sense of the House” resolution, unanimous resolution, the absence of Sonia Gandhi during that time and her coming back and the push to give Rahul Gandhi a new role and both his mother’s and his own unpreparedness to face the truth, the question of dynastic succession-these are all the new questions that are not just run of the mill questions, these are the new challenges that stare at the future of the Indian polity.
May be, there might not be any violent threats to democracy but there is every danger that Indian democracy might fall into a rut on the lines of what happened in Russia where a new oligarchy had come to distort and derail democracy.
Is India any different from such political distortions or deteriorations when we see so many disquieting undemocratic and even unparliamentarily behaviour? Some 162 and odd MPs are in the category of MPs with criminal records.
The Prime Minister may or may not be a weak person. He is certainly presiding over a weakly governed government structure.
Political parties turned as personals dictatorships!
Power Brokers, corporate and others actively engaged in the parties!
Unelected Prime Minister to unelected party functionaries!
Rajya Sabha nominations and even nomination of Ministers in the Cabinet are manipulated so blatantly!
So, flow of funds unaccounted and at the disposal of coteries!
Why political ideologies are critical for ethical politics!
Corruption and the status of the cases before the courts
Corruption has come to create new uncertainties.
L.K.Advani, the Opposition leader, is a veteran politician and he is on a public yatra. He attacks the Prime Minister and it is his privilege to question and raise uncomfortable questions for the government. He represents a party, the rightwing Hindutva party. But his general questions are very uncomfortable to the government. He calls the Prime Minister a weak leader. But his criticism might or might not be charitable. But one thing is clear; there is a general consensus, across the ideological spectrum, that there is a weak governance. That is what led to the series of scams and scandals.
Not just the Opposition, but even the sedate corporate heavyweights, from Azim Premji to the venerable Keshub Mahindra and the younger, the new voice of the corporate sagacity, Deepak Paresh, who have all signed the open letter that calls for stopping the “Power Brokers” at the gate as it were!
These Power brokers, one is afraid to say so, could turn the Indian polity into an oligarchy, on the lines of what happened in Russia today.
Of course, the Russian judiciary is very different from the Indian judiciary. Here, we have fortunately a vigorous, now an activist and very independent judiciary and that is the only hope in the vast majority of the peoples’ minds for restoring the balance in our written Constitution.
Unfortunately, our Prime Minister is a very learned man.
That is the public image. But, given his vast academic background, he is an expert in economic administration. But by no stretch of imagination, we can call his an intellectual, a thinker or a clear articulator of ideas and issues for a great vision or a goal. As Prime Minister, one must be able to carry the people along with him. This, Dr.Singh singularly failed to do.
That is the point, I think, L.K.Advani is making when he calls the PM a weak person.
Unfortunately, the other leaders also seem very weak and unsuited. Sonia Gandhi and now Rahul Gandhi don’t seem to give the confidence of a capable leadership.
India is a great country, a great democracy and it calls for leaders of a much more sterner stuff.
So, these are uncertain times, we have to note.
Unethical Media and yet it did a great national service
The Radia Tapes said it all. How the big corporate houses went bust under the government tapping the heavy weight lobbist, Neera Radia and then leaked it and suddenly also blacked out the whole thing.
It is for the “unregulated” or “self-regulated (which the Press Council of India chairman, the retired Supreme Court judge, Markandeya Katju, calls “self regulation is no regulation!”.It is right. The very sensation and ad revenue-focused TV channels, both news and entertainment and supports channels have completely distorted the Indian reality.
What we have is total diversion from the real issues of the people. Yet, the TV channels only exposed and brought out the 2-G scandals and the result is that we have some 50 VIPs lodged in Tihar jail.
This is a great development and a great achievement of the Indian news media.
Corruption in all spheres
Corruption in all spheres: ministers, MPs and party families!
Corruption in media ethics, print and TV channels!
Corruption in judiciary!
What future for Indian democracy?
India needs a two party, two-coalition based on clear ideologies!
As in the UK, USA and even in France and Germany
Conservatives and Labour, now Liberals in UK operate under great traditions and ethical principles
In India, unfortunately or otherwise, the Indian National Congress, now under Sonia Gandhi, had lost all its age-old ethical beliefs.
The Congress party
Dynastic ambitions or dynastic desires fuel the Congress party, the only major party with an all India presence.
Now, the party is not democratically constituted.
Under Mahatma Gandhi, the party at least had the great leaders. There were heated interparty exchanges, first between Gandhi and Nehru and even otherwise, under other equally great men and women.
Nethaji Bose rebelled against Gandhi and Pattabi Sitaramamayya was defeated by Bose. Gandhi, though admitted it as his personal defeat, went on to disband the Bengal Congress Committee and thereby took revenge. Bose left the Congress and formed his own Forward Bloc and the rest is history.
A new book on Nethaji Bose (His Majesty’s Opponent by Sugata Bose, 2011, pp.388, Penguin) by his own paternal grandson, an eminent historian who teaches at Harvad has written a new book that is both a definitive biography that is likely to replace many of the biographies on Nethaji but also would put the life and times of both Nethaji as well as Gandhi and also the rise and evolution of the Indian National Congress in the true historic perspective.
Here is a book I think that gives for the first time, in my belief that we see that Gandhiji’s life and work fits into the true historic sweep in which the Congress party evolved in its first 75 years, almost coinciding with the coming of India’s freedom.
We put too much emphasis on Mahatma’ work for freedom.
But what about the years from 1885 to 1920 when Tilak died and in 1915 when Gokhale passed away?
Almost when the First World War came India was already halfway through its demand for Swaraj, right?
So, both Gokhale and Tilak shaped the mood of Indians, the rise of Swadeshi and the demand for Swaraj.
So, when Gandhi came he had his own ideas and experiences and this brought non-violent struggles.
But then, by the time the Second World War came, the British power was weakened thanks to a combination for forces and one critical force was the life and work of Subhas Chandra Bose.
The contribution of Bose in the years of 1942 to 1944 and the year’s upto 1947 when Cripps Mission came and the Cabinet Mission came and where the Congress leaders bungled (?).Yes, that is how we see the years before 1947 when the Congress had to concede partition, a step that almost negated Gandhi’s lifework
Is this the right view that can be taken now?
I ask this question now. I want to pose this question to all of our countrymen and women today.
We have to see where we went wrong in 1947 and learn some lessons for the tendencies today.
Today too we seem to be living through some lull, a failure of memory and a sense of selfishness, now in the context of a new wealth and a new sense of materialism and fast growth in the salaried middle classes and this new affluence and this new sense of public indifference to certain basic values.
Patriotism no more seems to matter and in the time of globalisation and the best of Indian talent seems migrating and the patriotic impulse seems to be missing.
That is why we see the likes of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi seem to be stealing the thunder of all glory and fame while at the same time we see their utter irrelevance to the sort of challenges we see today.
Parties are not based on clear ideologies. They have deviated from their original ideals and ideas.
The Congress party is the dominant political party that won Indian freedom. The party was a great political movement. It later represented Indian diversity at its best.
It was truly representative of the Indian states, Indian classes and also Indian religions and caste groups.
The dominant castes, in the original sociological senses, fell into the typical Indian hierarchical structures. India was one nation, one country and one people, right?
There are now too many deficits! There is no democracy whatever in the Congress party today, right? The leadership of Sonia Gandhi, in its 13th year is truly at its very negative light. Sonia Gandhi hasn’t led the party in any great way. She had almost shrunken the party into a kitchen affair. There are no PCCs in the states worth speaking about. There are in fact no PCCs truly functioning.
This is the worst indictment on the leadership of Sonia Gandhi. The party leader and her son, Rahul Gandhi started talking about the party as led by my family, our family etc.
This is utter naivety!
How can an youngman, and that too aspiring to lead a country of the size and stature of India can utter such expressions (as he just today did in Nagaland) and hope to win over the people’s minds and hearts and their trust in his leadership. He is an youngman and let us not take too much of his words as an affence but it is time that someone points this out. Also as for his mother and leader of the Congress party she seems to imagine that the country would remain within the hold of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty. This again seems to me an utter naivety and sheer ignorance.
There are so many such trust deficits in various spheres.
One thing can be said with some certainty and confidence.
India is not what it was under Nehru or Indira Gandhi. Not even what it was under Rajiv Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi cant hope to survive the current state of the much weakened Congress and also with the rise of regional parties. Including the Congress breakaway groups, under various labels, like the NCP or the Trinamool and also in other states which are almost a zero base for the Congress, from where it can’t hope to make any progress. As in TN and in AP.
Sonia Gandhi opted for unprincipled collations and this, as in the case of the DMK, now after two successive election wash-off, in the Assembly and local body elections, Sonia Gandhi, to give just one example, chose not to change the PCC leadership nor take some nuanced stance with the DMK, she seems to bask in the glory of some self-delusion. The Prime Minister goes one step further; he also comes out to greet the DMK chief while his daughter is languishing in Tihar jail for so many months.
So, the Congress coalition alliance, they call it shamelessly as coalition dharma, and yet we see the Congress doesn’t even articulate its principles, no basic principles either for the party or the government.
What sort of a political party is this? While the corporate heavyweights call the very same corruptors, as “Power Borjers”.
The biggest groups, engaged powerful lobbyist who charges Rs.50 crore from each of the group, this group manages to get its choice man appointed as Cabinet Minister, gives blatantly donations to the persons so as to influence the deals and yet these bigwigs are let off by the CBI!
Some of the biggest crooks are now roaming freely outside while the genuinely innocent, ministers, Central government dept Secretary and other new generation adventurous corporate deal makers had got caught and languish in jail.
So, this is the India created by Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan duo and the question on everyone’s mind is:
Where do we go from here?
Where does India go from here?
Indian democracy, however, is now maturing. That much is sure. We have come this much for sure! See the number of the VIPs inside Tihar Jail. The very number shows some degree of maturity on the part of the government not to be able to subvert the democratic processes. The key allies, the DMK whose members contributed to the development of the 2-G scandal to this size to make the case to punish the Cabinet Minister and the Rajya Sabha MP, the very daughter of the DMK chief to languish inside the jail for so long and also the heavyweight corporate leaders also to face the same fate.
So, given the current mood prevailing in the country and also as pointed out by Thomas Friedman, the well-known US columnist(who is at the moment based in India)and what T.Friedman says in one of his latest column is that both the Indian system (Indian democracy and the American system (democracy) are facing some similar problems and challenges.
The anti-Wall Street protesters and the Anna Hazare protesters represent the same sort of mindset.
The civil society has turned against much wrong doings.
If it is in the US, the financial services industry which played havoc with the very fabric of the American economy, in India it is the very same corporate heavyweights, here the heavyweights, some of them really are outside the net, they are outside the Tihar jail for the very obvious reason they are too big and too much politically involved and interfering and they are all called the new “Power Brokers”, as their fellow corporate heads, the really bold and the morally upright, names that inspires and evokes much respect and admiration. Men and women like, Keshub Mahindra, Deepak Parekh, Azim Premji, Adi Godrej and others. In this list of 14 eminent men and women, the lone female member of the corporate heavyweights is Anu Agha. Really great!
Madam, you are really courageous in the crowd of corporate cowards who, otherwise don’t hesitate to go to any extent of cringing before the political masters to seek favours, by doing all the dirty tricks.
These “Power Brokers “are easy to identify at the first count. See who are all the other big or bigger names in the list! Those who really didn’t choose to sign this open letter are the ones who really benefitted by playing the roles of “Power Brokers”!
The ones who donate, who lend their private aircraft for the high and mighty in the party and government to travel even foreign countries and inside the country our party leaders now routinely use private aircraft and helicopter and if the high and mighty wants to travel outside Delhi even for a day, it costs anything like Rs.one crore!
Given their high security and the logistic involved the party or parties are the real culprits in India now!
You collect so much funds and there is no accountability and no inner democracy, no audit of funds, no internal freedom and no internal democracy and no elections and no proper Working Committees either. See the CWC of the Congress party. There is no representation for the people from the states. No mass leaders in the Congress party in any important positions.
So, the CWC now meets in the drawing room of Sonia Gandhi, see the PM and even the Cabinet Ministers who are all crouching in the very narrow room and the tables and even the chairs are inadequate to sit long. So, obviously such an arrangement is a sign that not much discussions take place nor is there any indication what transpired there.
Even the Prime Minister doesn’t conduct a press conference in a bigger hall. He selects a few, say some four or five and we didn’t hear what he spoke, no TV coverage nor any press briefing. The PM doesn’t face the cameras!
What sort of a party is the Congress today?
What sort of the Prime Minister who is not elected in the first place, nor is he a member of the Lok Sabha and neither he was elected in the Parliamentary Party.
The whole show is packed or packaged and given to the country as a farce.
Yes, that is the greatest drawback; no it is gross failure of Parliamentary democracy as it is practised in India.
So, we have this new phenomenon of the series of scams and scandals and there is no indication nor the co9untryu has got any clue when this scandals would come to an end.
As it is the future of the Indian parliamentary democracy hangs on the final pronouncements of the Supreme Court on the various series financial and administrative and even the collective decision-making processes of the government.
This is not parliamentary democracy’s time-honoured practices.
We have to see just the older democracies. In UK there are certain well-laid down traditions and practices.
They convene a parliament, they use the word recall. They recall the Parliament whenever there is a crisis of some serious nature, as when the London riots took place.
In India, the practice seems to be the reverse.
Whenever there is a crisis, as during the Anna Hazare fast, we saw the government going into a huddle. During Sonia Gandhi’s absence we saw a paralysis of both the party and government. The hapless Prime Minister, we saw in a new light. On successive three days we saw a pathetic PM asserting the first day, then climbing down the second day and on the final third day we saw the PM “saluting the idealist and crusader Anna Hazare and conceding on all the three counts on which he set his demands and he then broken the fast.
What the PM proved is that he is no politically sensitive leader. Everyone knows he was never a political animal. He was a quintessential bureaucrat.
He is holding on today for the simple reason that our democracy is caught in a sort of bind. Rather everyone, every party and every ally of the coalition is caught in a bind. The Congress can’t be dislodged simple because there is no alternative, credible platform. Given Indian democracy and its challenges and the very nature of the country’s composition, we need an alternative, say right or centre and yet we have to have a secular, progressive or conservative political and social agenda.
At best a Centrist agenda only will go down well with the aspirations of the people.
As it is the BJP is still suspect to be a trouble maker. A communal party with divisive agenda. The BJP has also not a credible economic agenda.
With all his antics, Mr.Narendra Modi is seen as a communalist, his credibility, in spite of what he claims to have done in his state of Gujarat, outside the state he is still an unwelcome guess!
So too other parties. The Communists are out and they are finished as far as electoral politics is concerned. In W.Bengal they are gone, in Kerala they are nowhere.
Their very formulations seem out of date and people, especially the newly emerging middle class everywhere wants a new politics that is responsible, credible and workable.
So, the Congress party is surviving simply because of the tradition and there is no other viable and credible alternative.
In fact, if at all, there is only one chance. The currently splintered Congress parties, in Maharashtra, W.Bengal and elsewhere might come together. Not the Third force, but the clear national, democratic and secular forces under a broad democratically constituted broad based alliance with Nitish Kumar and others from the non-regional parties.
Even among the regional parties, there are secular forces and there are nationalist minded parties and forces.
The cattiest and separatist parties have no future. But the national outlook of many of the regional and small parties is hopeful and they can be brought into a national-level coalition. In fact, what Vajpayee did in fashioning a coalition of some 25 parties was more owing to his unique leadership qualities, moderate and accommodating and sweet nature of his visage etc went into his success. Vajpayee had charisma too. All this contributed.
It is my firm belief that such a two party national level coalition of like-minded parties, give the right types of leaders and personalities that can be worked out in India.
Or, rather I would put it this way. Under some well-articulated ideologies and historic parallels, we could work out an alternative platform for the present, decrepit Congress party machinery.
Yes, the present Congress party is a decrepit machine only today. There is no internal dynamism in the party. There is no party office, the present AICC is a stop for the frustrated.
Taking TN, my own state, as a testing ground I have articulate a new political line for the state. TN is no ordinary state. This is the state from where early all India Congress figures emerged, right from the start, from 1885, when the Indian National Congress was started.
The first delegates were quite a number from TN; the chief names are G.Subramanyyam Iyer, who seconded the first resolution at the inaugural session of the Congress in Bombay. Among the first attendees in the session there are such names like Salem Bdagalu Narsimmlu Naidu from Coimbatore, there were men like C.N.Vijayaraghvachary of Salem and many others.
From TN came Rajaji and Kamaraj and other capable leaders and administrators.
For long, TN represented the other Southern states as far Congress party work and ideology were concerned.
Of course, it was Rajaji’s unique personality and his close relations with Gandhi that queered the pitch, so to say, as far as the rise and spread of the Congress ideology is concerned.
Rajaji’s personal differences, owing to both ideology as well as differences to personality traits, Nehru a modern man and Socialist, Rajaji, a Conservative, led to the founding of the Swatantra party late in life to fight Nehru’s Congress.
So, Kamaraj too leaned on Nehru and this led Rajaji to join hands with the DMK to fight Kamaraj.
Since 1967, there is no chances Congress party rise again.
Now, the Congress is almost near zero in TN.
The DMK lost almost forever, it seems.
Now, the ADMK is no real alternative to the DMK, it is only a stop-gap situation for some other stable ideology to get established.
Sonia Gandhi is under the grip of the unreliable DMK.
The very same situation prevailed in the nearby Union territory of Pondicherry. There Mr.N.Rangasamy, the current Chief Minister had formed his own party (N.R.Congress and won the elections and formed his own Congress government. That model, I call it the Pondicherry model might suit the neighbouring TN.
There is a vast reservoir of Congress workers, most of them followers of the late Kamaraj, a very great mass leader and the question is who would mobilise them, without looking to Sonia Gandhi who is simply not interested to revive the party from the grass roots.
Who knows, Sonia Gandhi might not be simply interested to revive the Congress. Not just in TN, even in other states as well.
May be history might write her years simply like that! Who knows?
But India will live on.
India is a great country, a great democracy and the world looks to India as a great democracy, a very powerful rising software superpower etc.
So, India needs new types of leaders and in any vacuum, leaders would surely emerge.
In such a historic context, there is work for everybody, every citizen of India, has a job to do.
That is to make Indian democracy to conform to world levels in terms of ideas and competence.
That is the simple but an effective message I want to send out. Jai Hind!
Can you fight corruption?
Not much chance at all!
Corruption in India
Growing and in various forms.
Why corruption never gets reported or written about?
Corruption has many forms. Take Radia Tapes! Yes, it revealed much and that is all. Suddenly it was suppressed completely. This could not have been done without government pressure, for sure.
Also, pressure from the powerful corporate houses.
Also, because media too is under obligation owing to advertising revenues.
There 40 new channels run or financed by political parties and political families. As in some states, these political news channels mostly black out true news and indulge in brain-washing only.TN is a good example state!
There are TV channels on sports, finance, gadgets and cars and of course films.
These are all really deals, underhand deals, like cricket coverage for big ad budget! Film serials are again big deals; more ad funds mean more promotion of the films!
Paid news is the menace for print media!
So, what chance for social media, public interest media?
No chance at all, it seems as of now!