Corruption and Regionalism :- Commas and Semicolons in India

While watching the debates of our Parliamentarians and the discussions of so called activists and intellectuals on the three important issues of Lokpal Bill today, one could sense the uneasiness of the politicians, reluctance and ego of the ministers and the technicalities of our intellectuals standing between a Strong Lokpal and no-Lokpal.  However, we still believe on the constitution and political system and still have faith on the aamjunta’s struggle –  a Strong Lokpal will come into force very soon.

Over the years, there is an exponential rise in Corruption by the Government, Sate/Central Officials, Politicians, Media and the Corporates – the level of corruption has crossed all its limits. The reports of CAG on Common Wealth Games (CWG), 2G Spectrum auction, Adarsh Housing Society scam, ISRO deal, KG Basin deal, Hasan Ali‘s case and Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) soft approach to the entire episode, black money and Swiss Bank accounts by politicians and others, Land deals by Karuna’s, BSY’s and their families, Jagan Mohan’s disproportionate and unaccounted rise in wealth, Reddy brothers’ mining mafia, BSY’s drama on resignation, Mayawati’s Taj Corridor and Birthday celebrations and many others… have proved that India is in its neck deep of corruption. Saying all this, one should not undermine the level of corruption in lower offices, where every day the common man is harassed and taken for granted, that no file will move unless the officials are bribed, no gas connection if you do not bribe, no telephone line if you do not give mithai and no ration card if you do not pay for chai pani

These definitely have sparked the uneasiness among the people like Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, Justice Santosh Hegde, Prashant Bhushan and many others. This has led to protests, slogans, dharanas and above all Anna Hazare’s fast and determination to bring a strong Lokpal. To this the “Sense of the Parilament”  has definitely brought a sense of relief among the aamjunta. In a country like India where democracy is prevailed, Constitution is supreme and Parliament and Judiciary are the two faces of a Check-and-Balance system, corruption to this extent is really not acceptable. When there are protests by the common man, by the majority of tax payers and by the intellectuals, there is definitely a sense of seriousness and urgency to be dealt with. But, these protests should not be limited to just protests only!! These should laid the foundation of a corruption free and developed India. Moreover, instead of only participating in the protests and raising slogans the aamjunta should also participate in the system – getting elected through the system, exercising their voting rights and clearing the mesh.

Protests of these kind in-fact are taken seriously. However, there are serious comments and oppositions by the Media, so called intellectuals, activists, and our legislators – that this movement has undermined the supremacy of Parliament and is a threat to our democracy and constitution. Even there are attempts to divide the protests in line of caste and class – that the protesters are confined to only middle class and to upper castes. Religious cards are also played.

These kinds of accusation and attempts to divide the society are selfishly motivated and are signs of immaturity. Before accusing and dividing the protesters, the media, the MPs and the activists should introspect on (i) is there any other alternative when there is no seriousness by the politicians for the last 43 years to pass this bill; 8 failed attempts so far, (ii) why more than 4 ex-ministers and MPs and 20+ senior bureaucrats (pointing their fingers to the Prime Minister and Home Minister in court) are in Tihar Jail ; only after Supreme Court’s intervention and Dr. Swamy’s serious attempt, (iii) why do you appoint some one as Chief Vigilance Commissioner, when he is an accuse in a serious corruption case, and (iv) when MPs are booked for “Cash for vote scam”??

With so much corruption in place, what other option is left out for the aamjunta? In-fact the protesters should be appreciated and thanked for keeping the protests so far non-violent. When the entire world is struggling with violent protests (fighting for power in Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, riots in UK and many others are just few recent examples), we the Indians still believe and adopt non-violence. One thing I would like to point out here, that, the protests and dharanas of such type are not threat to our democratic setup as reported/targeted by Barkhas/Sagarikas/Arnabs/Arundhatis/Arunas… and supported by the pseudo-activists, rather a check-and-balance mechanism to our political system which can strengthen the democratic setup. Otherwise, every one including the PM and the leader of opposition will keep on saying that “we want a strong Lokpal“, but will not pass the bill and would not have even discussed in the parliament!

Many a times our honorable PM has blamed the political compulsions of the coalition government at the center for the current state of our country. This is in-fact true. With the rise in the number of regional parties like NCP/DMK/AIDMK/TMC/BJD/BSP/SP/Shiv Sena/MNS/TDP/NDF/Akali Dal/TRS and many others with their regional interests, there is definitely no chance for a single party like BJP or Congress to rule the country; no single party in the center will have the majority and hence cannot pass a bill on its own. It is true that many regional parties which are part of the Govt., force the Govt. (some time even at the gun point) on various issues – in cabinet formation, in inter-state issues, in development related to individual states, using CBI for political gains and in bringing family legacy into power….

Moreover, some time the threat issued by these state parties have really threatened the structure of Indian union and the civil rights of the common man; be in Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad or in Jammu. One can argue that the regional parties are born with the philosophy of a particular culture or a political compromise or because of the discriminatory feelings of the local “sons of soil” population, and hence are not bad for India’s democracy. Then, why is the political compulsion and PM’s inability to control corruption and other serious issues?

Every one should remember that we need to move ahead and move even with the hurdles of corruption and regionalism – corruption and the regionalism are just commas and semicolons in a sentence of a big essay called “India and Indianness”; they can neither stop the “India” nor the “Indianness”, though may put some punctuations or hurdles into it.

Aamjunta, what do you say? – do share your thoughts.

Jai Hind!

Note: The title of this article is inspired by Mark Tully’s Book – “No Fullstops in India“.

An “Open Letter” to my Fellow Indians on the eve of “Independence Day”

My Dear Fellow Indians,

First, let me congratulate you on the eve of Our Independence Day. Wish our hard earned Independence from the tyranny and suppression lasts long and we discover ourselves in  a country without hunger, terrorism and corruption in everyday life.

Like every human being, I too have a life, and a desire for a peaceful and “Independent Life”. Unfortunately, the current political system and state of affairs do not allow me to have a life of my own – without fear of coming back home when I step out, without fear of losing my life’s saving when I invest, without fear of getting cheated by our Ministers and Politicians, without fear of getting killed or kidnapped by the Maoists if I travel to “Malkanagiri” or “Similipal” or “Dantewada“, without fear of getting a fake degree if I take admission into a college, without fear of getting raped or kidnapped when I roam around in our national capital “New Delhi“, without getting targeted by a section of people and media if I am a Hindu or Muslim or Sikh, without getting labeled by my fellow Indians that I am a “Chinki” if I am from the north-eastern states, without fear of loosing my life and job if I am from Bihar and UP when I am in “Mumbai“, without getting targeted by the Mafias and Babus if I file an RTI and without being thrown out from private schools and hospitals if I am a poor.

Friends… the recent incidents such as 2G or ISRO or Adarsh scams, land grabbing by politicians in name of trusts and charity, CWG mess, siphoning taxpayers’ money in the name of development and other schemes in various states, dividing India in the name of regionalism and religion, nexus of judiciary, layers and politicians, slow and inactive steps of our Police and CBI, populist schemes to attract votes have really shaken the faith of every Indian like me on the political, judiciary, educational and structural systems of India. It is indeed a mater of concern –  for you, for me, for our future generation and for every Indian.

Then… should we allow ourselves to be ruled and governed like this? Don’t we think a change is required at this stage? How can we justify and console ourselves every day when we get hurt, when we are cheated, when we are thrown out by the police in the midnight, when we are taken for granted for every thing – in the parliament, in the cabinet meetings, in the press briefings! Our freedom is at stake, our life is in danger and our survival is in jeopardy.

Do you think that the country which is famous for its “youth” will present itself to the future like this? Do we have any remedy for these kind of short-term and long-term diseases?

Yes, we have, but it is not easy and cheap. It is difficult and sometimes very costly. The solution is just another struggle for independence; a fight for our survival, a fight for our dignity and a fight for our future. Remember, this fight is not against any one else, it is against our “chalta hai” attitude, against our own people; it is a fight of our inner strength against ourselves and against the pseudo-systems – cultural, communal and social. It has to start from the family through right teachings of life and value system, and from the very own “I and you — We“.  Neither the blame game nor the pahle aap and pahle aap can help here. We may have to pay a heavy price in terms of life, money, time and peace for this. It is not free..

A change in attitude and look is necessary; may take a long time for a change, be it short-term or long-term. Another Rang de Basanti….

On the very first Independence Day when Pundit Nehru addressed the nation, he addressed with hope, a sense of fulfillments and sense of achievement.

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance …. We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again.     

Pundit Nehru (15th Aug, 1947)

Friends, he (Punditji) was right on his own way and at that moment; as the first Prime Minister of India, to architect India and the future of Indians. Sixty Five years have passed… and we are still discovering and re-discovering ourselves!!! “independent” is just another metaphor in public speeches.

Hope and wish India and Indians wake up to a dignified life and true freedom – their “birth right“.

Jai Hind!

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