In India the rule of law often breaks down at the throw of the dice. The frequency of which is appalling, and outright irrational. We have a novel way at protesting at the tip of the hat, namely taking recourse to Bandhs, Dharnas and now more fashionably undertaking a Fast. At any given day in India about 40-50 per cent of the country is under anarchy or some other form of protest and disruption of civic life. Every political party and its affiliates, like the labour unions from various industries, the student’s political wing, communities demanding inclusion into the reservation regime, and recently a sitting chief minister of Karnataka, have taken recourse to it in the belief that this form of political activity will most appropriately meet their demands. Far from meeting the demands it only helps increase anarchy in the long term in this country’s civic life. Most of the people just end up following the so called self-proclaimed leaders because as one youth put it during the Anna hazare’s fast “we can’t do anything about the situation so why no help someone else who is doing something about it”.
While this is noble idea of giving support to the forms of protest to keep tyranny at bay in an ideal world, it is a far cry in India. It is precisely this noble intent that has been exploited by the various self-serving groups or individuals, who at various points in the history of this country have ridden on the wave of popular protests to come to prominence. After which they have always invariably abandoned the causes they represented. How long these stupidities of the masses can be tolerated by the state? And more importantly how long can this quasi democracy as it has come to be work as a nation?
Apart from the inconvenience that these forms of protest cause to the citizens of this nation, the economic costs are of significance; add to that the law and order problems that these events invariably cause, and we have anarchy. The government is blackmailed into helplessness, which in turn forces the government to do nothing against these protests, for fear of being perceived as being against the agitating section of the citizens. It all boils down to vote bank politics. Every protest or an agitation gets lost from its avowed purpose, ending up being appeased by the government, leading to more policy mistakes and thereby the erosion of ‘rule of law’ and the ‘due process’.
This appeasement has reached such an extent that today almost all agitating communities, sections have virtually been forcing the government into submission to their demands. Whereas, ideally they should have been arrested and tried for disruption of public life and being a nuisance to the society. However, the socialist government that we have had since independence is to blame for it. It has always had a paternalistic style of governing. It has always thought to have known what ‘the best is’ for its citizens. From the ‘license raj’ to the government controlled education system, it has so far tried to force equity at the cost of liberty. The chasing of this chimera started with Nehru, the end to this folly is not in sight as yet. From the social sector schemes to the reservation in education, jobs and the legislature the idea of equality has been forced down our throats. The result of which is massive inefficiency and banishment merit from every corner of the government.
Today more than forty per cent of the territory of India is virtually not under its control or exercises very little control, from the red corridor to the small agitating satraps across the country demanding a separate state or reservations or the next unreasonable demand they can come up with. And, not surprisingly these are in turn the least developed parts of the nation. So, they now protest and agitate for development and inclusion in the growth of the nation and again and again the vicious circle goes on and on. But, the question we need to ask ourselves is that will it ever stop? The answer to my mind is NO! It will not stop. We have to cut the vicious circle and that can only be done by the government governing the least and shifting more individual liberty to the people. There by, making the citizens of this nation more accountable. We have to inevitably at some point start taking responsibility for our actions and not keep depending on the colossus for everything.
Today, as things stand, the executive in India is steadily losing the initiative. Of late judicial activism has taken the initiative to give out a lot of quasi-executive orders ranging from reprimanding the CBI in various cases, to coming down hard on the government for sitting on ceremony in various scams. If this trend were to continue it would lead to a grave constitutional crisis in the future, leading to more anarchy and chaos. The elected representatives are simply outright incompetent at worst or apathetic at best. Most of them it seems do not even know how to go about their jobs or simply don’t care. Either ways the nation pays the price, the citizens suffer for these lapses. They have been quite adept to display their incompetence at numerous occasions, the External Affairs minister reading out his neighbour’s speech at the UN- I wonder if he even knows what are out stands on foreign policy- wait! Do we have one? The CBI travelling to arrest a foreign national with an expired warrant, Kasab being given stately treatment at the tax payer’s expense and the list goes on. Any ways, let not dwell on it.
Can something be done about it? But, Of course!
What India today need is a systemic overhaul of the governmental structure! Over the years the government has grown to be so big that today it finds itself in a difficult situation to even start the process of reform. The massive size has led to the slow and inefficient functioning of the bureaucracy, hampering the process of governance. It has become a Kafkaesque nightmare, brilliantly portrayed in ‘The Castle’. Most problems in India relate to in some or the other form to governance, Add to that the myriad of laws dating from pre-colonial time and it becomes a nightmare. The citizens had thus far displayed little or no political awakening, with occasional emotional stirrings, like the Anna hazare’s campaign or the Mumbai attacks in 2008, only to fall back to a comfortable lull. Rather than taken enlightened political choices while electing the choice of a candidate to represent them in the parliament, they often fall prey to the distinctions of caste, class or religion. There by electing incompetent and criminalised individuals. The statistics are appalling.
The future of this nation will largely depend on how the citizens see themselves involved in the political process during and after the elections. Statistically about 45 % of the nation does not vote at all. The government which come to power at the centre had virtually the mandate of merely 30 % of the people of this country. The challenge to the future conduct of the elections and the political parties stalking power will be to get these marginalised 45 % to the polling booths. The future of politics in India is set to change, the weeding out will happen soon- it’s already begun.
That will happen only with a new set of leaders, with a new vision for this nation. The set of leaders who believe in Gandhi’s dream of’ wiping every teardrop from every eye’, is still alive in our times. His dream –‘of having a government which governs the least’ is possible to achieve. His dream of have villages manage their affairs, a de-centralised democracy. People who believe in liberty of the people, and that it is the most important attribute of the state. People who believe, that the government should be small, but effective and strong. People who believe that the citizens deserve the right to achieve their own happiness in whatever way they see fit.
The team is being assembled as you read. A team consisting of highly motivated people with impeccable integrity and the spirit to change this country. All those who see themselves as being motivated enough to lead this country from chaos to stability, from poverty to prosperity, where the rule of law is supreme, where the culture of hope never dies. So, for the people it would do good to consider joining this team rather than wasting a significant amount of time in protests which lead nowhere. The kind of reform that this country needs will need a strategy and foresight, patience and hard work. And, it would do the nation good if you support the team in any way you should choose.It is the Freedom Team of India (FTI) (www.freedomteam.in)