The 62nd Republic Day marks Governance Deficit
The country celebrated the 62nd Republic Day with great fervour, zeal and gaiety last week. But if we look at the present situation of the country, there are still several evils the country is afflicted with. These are poverty, lack of better healthcare services, corruption, and above all, not letting the people of the country to hoist the national flag—that too in the country and on the occasion of Republic Day. Hence, these expose the UPA government’s lack of sensitivity, tenacity, orientation, etc. So, how can we say that the country celebrated the Republic Day with true sense of fervent freedom? In this backdrop, however, it is apt to deliberate on these points. But I take the last, and very significant, point for pondering first, i.e. celebrating the Republic Day with true spirit of freedom. The latest incident, in which the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) president Anurag Thakur, along with BJP leaders of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley respectively, was arrested for hoisting the national flat at Lal Chowk in Srinagar, J&K, shows the abysmal state of affairs in the country. That one cannot hoist the national flag in one’s own country—that too on Republic Day—is beyond imagination and disheartens one immensely. What is all the more dismaying is the fact that this is an affront and incalculably painful to those departed souls who had sacrificed themselves to the cause of hoisting the tricolour in independent India.
To add salt to this injured scenario was the unfortunate statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who said that this flag hoisting was nothing but mere politics and would provoke separatist elements. However, it is noteworthy that the Prime Minister maintained a studied silence, when these separatist leaders of J&K visited Delhi and made provocative statements! This shows UPA’s double standards. However, the UPA government must have understood that occasions like this provided enormous opportunities for the youth of the country to take pride that they are participating in the process of nation building. Omar Abdullah would have emerged as a youth icon, had he allowed these leaders to unfurl the national flag. But the contrary step by the Chief Minister of J&K, supported by the centre, would only send wrong signals to the separatist forces, who are adamant to derail any nationalist activity in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is to be noted that the Ekta Yatra by BJYM and BJP leaders and their activists had been peaceful all along, as it had received tremendous support and love of people. Hence, one wondered why this Yatra was construed as one aimed at disrupting peace. The UPA’s plan was merely a political gimmick and will only deepen the polarisation in the country. A group of BJP leaders led by Murli Manohar Joshi had hoisted the national flag on Republic Day in 1992 amid tight security, and it did not led to any untoward incident. Though, a Congress-ruled state—Maharashtra—witnessed sheer anarchy when on the eve of Republic Day this year, the Additional District Magistrate of Nasik was burnt alive in broad day light by the members of oil mafia. So, the central and state governments’ insistence on not allowing the BJP leaders to hoist the national flag should be seen as undermining the values enshrined in the Constitution. The arrest of BJP leaders is nothing but the real face of pseudo-secularism donned by the UPA. For, every citizen has the right to unfurl the national flag anywhere in the country. But the provocative action on part of the state and central governments will only give the separatists a new agenda, as the weak government at the centre was seeking lame excuses to prevent the nationalist group to march towards Jammu and Kashmir and was working in connivance with the Omar Abdullah government to prevent the Yatra. It is therefore sad and a disgrace to the nation.
Coming back to other points, I state that the global report card on poverty eradication, prepared by the UN, shows glaring disparities in income in India. For instance, of the 900 million who are predicted to be in extreme poverty all over the world by 2015, India is expected to be home to more than 300 million, living on less than a dollar-a-day. Therefore, the government should give priority to economic growth and development, and social protection policies, which could provide a fillip to a positive economic growth trajectory. Inadequate access to healthcare services is the other important factor that works against the poor. India has a staggering burden of chronic disease arising from a variety of causes. The imperative therefore is to scale up the new programmes that could show good results at prevention. And finally, the losing battle against corruption exposes government’s lack of will to tackle corruption. Corruption cases drag on for years eroding the common man’s faith in the criminal justice system. While the sharks escape, small fry get convicted. What is more, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s response that there is no instant solution to bring back the black money stashed away in foreign banks and that the information with the government on those holding accounts in such banks cannot be made public due to treaty obligations was the least expected of a leader of his high post. As for treaty obligations, while assuming office Dr Singh promised to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of the nation. By not disclosing the names of those holding accounts in foreign banks, he has let the nation down.