Of Shattered Pride and Neverending Hope

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pathetic may be a small word to define the despicable act of covering up for the failure of State and Central machineries in the recent Mumbai blasts. But who cares! Mumbai’s resilience and ability to fight back may be spoken of but do the people really have an option besides picking up from where life and its uncertainties left them on the dark evening of 13th July? India’s restraint is being talked about in international media but truly speaking it is not an option that the State is exercising but a compulsion.

The Prime Minister may mutter something about zero tolerance in a meek tone standing safe in between the commandos that he has for security but the ground realities are for the people to face. India’s zero tolerance is mock worthy. Go and ask Afzal Guru and Kasab about it. The State spends crores of rupees for their upkeep. The same amount could have been used to deploy more security personnel and for their up gradation. I think the Government must be heaving a sigh of relief after the blasts. What these blasts have done is that they have taken away the focus from the talk about corruption. Now, for the next few weeks, there will be debates on how India’s foreign policy should be aligned. We’ll warn Pakistan using “strong” words and then call them over for cricket diplomacy. The same old story that we have been seeing since the Kargil war will follow.

As a citizen, I have begun losing my faith in the idea of a strong nation, a nation that I can proudly call mine. At times I feel that I live in India only because I own a piece of land here and have my livelihood here. The idea of a nation and the sense of pride get dampened by the acts of apathy, corruption and inefficiency by those in-charge of uplifting the nation. When I was a child, there was a competition held at school to decide on who will sing the national anthem on Independence Day. All of us with all our exuberance fought hard to get a chance. Singing the anthem instilled in a feeling of superiority, pride and confidence because we believed in every word the song conveyed. The words “Jaya he” resounded the school assembly and gave each one of us goose bumps. But that was a long time back. Each time that I now sing "Jaya he", the enthusiasm dies down due to the realization of our failures as a nation and inability to stand strong.

Going back to policies and citing rules and regulations is nothing but an excuse for not taking strong action. Why aren’t the terrorists who were captured live on camera killing people not dealt with severely? Why aren’t corruption cases against high profile ministers fast tracked and brought to a closure? Why is there so much of a hue and cry over introducing (I talk of an introduction only, the remedial steps to strengthen it can come in later) a strong bill to nail the corrupt?

The sad part is that inaction is being passed off as an act of restraint and careful treading of the path. I read recently that the PM works for 16 hours a day. What use is it if he has failed to control three most problematic areas for us - prices, terrorism and corruption! By saying that he is a workaholic and going by the results, it doesn’t require you to be a rocket scientist to decipher what use is he to the nation. He is at best a worker and not a leader. A worker can slog his way through and achieve individual targets set for him but he cannot give a vision that can take the nation forward.

In such a circumstance what could be the best way forward? If we replace the present lot at the helm of Governance, will we get a better replacement? Probably no. So how do we cleanse the system? One of the ways would be to create a model which allows incapable people to be chucked out soon enough. Stringent laws and fast tracked courts can punish the corrupt and push them out of the system and prevent them from joining back. This will probably give a chance to credible and capable people to come at the helm.

Ministers should have a report card and follow a transparent appraisal cycle like we have in corporate organizations. They should be given goals to reach. If they fail to deliver the goods, they must be thrown out of the cabinet and not allowed in. The citizens must push for greater transparency and stronger laws. With better communication gaining ground in India and the way the nation rallied behind Anna Hazare, we can formulate a stronger public opinion and put forward our case. It is definitely a long drawn battle and will take a while before the muck is cleared but the sense of pride may spring a comeback. Who knows the world may one day sit up and take note of how a billion people rose to re-write their destiny!


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