Sunday, 12 July 2020

Is India Headed For Social Uprising?

Updated: January 15, 2011 3:04 pm

The enormity of loss of public money involved in the 2G spectrum startles every conscientious Indian, and therefore, has rightly invited public outcry. How easily the powers that be, swindled nation’s wealth by smarting government policy to their advantage, speak of the extent of our systemic subversion. I am sure, a handful of recipients of the ill-gotten money, may not be able to consume that amount in their one lifetime. However, if that money would have been secured to the government coffers, funds would have been available to feed millions of starved bellies.

                On a comparative scale, the amounts involved in other scams going the rounds apparently stand ignoble, not to name specifics, as more than enough has already come out in public domain. However, the way public office has been misused by those otherwise supposed to serve people’s interest, speaks loud of how much they could stoop low to serve their vested interest.

                As a consequence, the nation is faced with a serious constitutional crisis, in as much as that the whole winter session of the Parliament was not allowed to function by the combined opposition. I will not be surprised if the subsequent budget session does also meet the same fate unless otherwise the ruling party agrees to constitute Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the corruption issues hitting the nation hard.

                Whether the opposition should have better discussed the issue in the Parliament and exposed the hidden aspects of the various scams of the day, I leave it for the readers to judge. For, even the principal opposition party, the Bhartiya Janta Party, raising a moral bogey against corruption, even their own ethical credentials do not stand well grounded. It is still not known, how murkier had been the conduct of BJP-headed NDA government in 2G Spectrum matter during their tenure. However, for the present, they have failed to tame the bully Karnataka Chief Minister with proven record of his corrupt practices. That just makes a mockery of BJP crying foul against corruption.

                At least, the Congress-led UPA government has shown doors to Ashok Chavan, whose name got associated with the Adarsha Housing scam. They stripped Suresh Kalmadi of the party position in the Parliament for all his Commonwealth Games lapses. Earlier, they made Shashi Tharoor to resign from the position of Minister of State for External Affairs. They even pressurised their defiant coalition partner, DMK, and made their nominee A Raja relieved from his ministerial position.

                In this backdrop, BJP’s continued belligerence demanding constitution of JPC sounds ridiculous, particularly when the Honourable Supreme Court has overtaken superintendence of the 2G Spectrum Scam investigation. The fate of JPC on Bofor’s scam is well known. More than 20 years have elapsed, and not even one person has been prosecuted so far. It did of course prove a rallying point of the opposition parties. It also provided them with the ammunition to keep the fire against Congress party alive for a long stretch of time, which proved death knell for the ruling party during 1989 parliamentary elections. Perhaps, the opposition wishes to create similar grounds and keep JPC as a continuing talking point, which helps them overtake power from the present incumbents when the occasion arises. True, as opposition party, they are within their right to highlight issues of public concern and draw people support to their advantage. But, can just change of hands shall be able to apply any magic wand miracle and drive away corruption from the base level? That does not any way sound credible.

                However, in the present context, two questions arise. First, the manner, in which, the opposition has been spearheading its attack. Any conscientious mind will ask whether it is fair to hold democratic institution to ransom by stalling its proceedings all through its session. Would it not have been better to first discuss the issue threadbare and then pursue it further vigorously through Public Accounts Committee headed by an opposition nominee? Second, does the opposition really wish to work towards rooting out corruption or just prove brownie point?

                The question is not so simple, as it looks. True, the volume of money involved in 2G Spectrum demands immediate attention and the wrongdoers deserve exemplary punishment fast. But, the expanse of corruption is quite deep rooted, far and wide starting from national level down to the Panchayat. If the overall figure of continued loot across the country is somehow unearthed and computed, the total amount shall be really astounding. And, mind it, economy moves in concentric circles. If at some stage, there is blockage, somewhere in between, all about our economic growth story, which has become the talking point of the world, will go haywire. Remember, the fall of a few Bankers drove Western World’s economy to its bottommost low just in one stroke.

                The moot question here is not about just identifying and suitably penalising those identified having defrauded the nation. The basic question is as to why we as a nation have been continuously losing moral grounds no less than the apparent growth story for which, we proudly wish to self-pat ourselves. This, despite all that we have been able to achieve in terms of our educational growth and academic excellence?

                Here again, a question arises, have we really cared to raise human resources imbued with a value system during the last 63 years since Independence? For, that alone could help us keep our head raised as a world leader, and which can also hold our social and political fabric in proper shape. So far, we seem to have cared the least on this count, and hence the high level of immorality in sight at every level of public spending or market dealings. And, if we fail to build the right type of human resources, without further loss of time, I am afraid our country may turn into a Banana Republic.

                Here, I am tempted to quote Mahatma Gandhi’s words on roots of violence:

                Wealth without work;

                Pleasure without conscience;

                Knowledge without character;

                Commerce without morality;

                Science without humanity;

                Worship without sacrifice;

                Politics without morality.

                All these trends are in striking evidence all around the country in full public view. The corporate world forming cartel to fleece the people has been a common story. The recent abnormal hike in air fare by the aviation sector, when the traveller’s volume grew is a case in point. We are already witness to marketers leaving no opportunity to fleece common people as has been the case with phenomenal rise in pulse, sugar, and onion prices. The government wakes up only when the situation really goes out of control. The question is why was the government sitting complacent when they knew that onion production was abysmally low this year follow unprecedented rain? Why did they not stop exports of onions till the price rose beyond common man’s reach? The complicity of powers that be with the market forces therefore, cannot be ruled out. And, the paradox is that the farmers not able to make their both ends meet fall into debt trap and have been committing suicide.

                And, it has so happened because we seem to have forgotten to groom our emerging generation with a value system and the right leadership skills to steer the self as well as the nation, the desired way. And, it is important to shape well every individual, but for which, our collective well being stands threatened. For, the misadventure of even one individual leader in business or governance, carries even potential to either lead the nation to its glory or drive it to its doom. And, there is nothing in sight so far, which may be suggestive of any genuine efforts towards checkmating the progressively falling moral grounds, what to talk of building it.

                The question now is, shall we ultimately prove to be a failed state sooner than later, or is there any likelihood of necessary correction in our functional-self, which may then lead us to glory?

                With the quantum of degeneration in evidence, any volatile country would have reacted very strongly by now. The problem however with India is, that a large mass of conscientious people have been just bidding time hoping for some miracle to happen. For, they do not wish to compromise with their comfort level. And even otherwise, Indian populace, by and large genetically used to take lot of shit, exercise lot of patience before they react. But when they do, they do it with a sense of vengeance in one stroke, as it happened during 1967, 1977, 1989, and 1998.

                Remember, when you push somebody to the wall, he is definitely going to try out bouncing back before his head gets hit. The country seems to have reached a similar pass as of today. A big social uprising therefore seems to be very much on cards. But, this time it will not just lead to a change of guard but, instead, it is going to happen with a difference. In earlier times, the leaders other than those belonging to All India Congress Party were not tested. Therefore, they tried out alternative options. However, by now, people belonging to all shades of political spectrum have become circumspect, with their disproportionate wealth in cheap display. Therefore, none of them stand chance of being spared of facing the brunt.

                The problem however this time is that there is no leader of the stature and integrity of late Jay Prakash Narayan in whom people may repose unflinching faith. Therefore, the danger is that the uprising may go directionless, to our detriment. It is better that some good ones out of the present lot wake up to the call and take necessary initiatives before things go totally out of hands.

                The need of the hour therefore, is to simultaneously take both short-term and long-term measures. First, identify the culprits and penalise them suitably by putting in place fast track investigation and judicial proceedings. Spread awareness amongst people down to village about the need to react against wrongdoings at ground level. And, induce value system and impart leadership training right from the school level as a part of the curriculum. The results may not be forthcoming immediately as such, but that will prove beneficial in long-term perspective. Had we taken this step immediately after Independence, we would have been able to groom at least three well-ordained working generations by now. Definitely, the ongoing scenario would have been much better.

                I wish that powers that be take up the warning bell in right earnest. Otherwise, nature also has its administering mechanism, which comes into play periodically for necessary correction with a fury, and which is not very far off.

By Bharat Bhushan

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