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India’s batteries are out

December 16, 2011

We Indians are in a strange spot. The government and its machinery is trying to figure out how much they can get away with defying certain things a democracy should stand for. We have had a slew of corruption cases in the past 2 years, when we thought the worst it could get was the 15-year old Bofors case.

We thought that was as bad as it would get. It was only in the movies that a bad guy tried to sell out a country… what those movies didn’t tell us that one didn’t have to sell out the country, he could just pocket pieces of it for his own.

So then we had the CWG scam, the Radia scandal, the 2G scam, the Mumbai land allotment scam… and numerous others that the government got wary about reporters.

But here’s the catch – how much can you trust the reporters too now? News channels are turning notoriously corporate. Sensationalizing is as common as writing a headline. And in the attempt to beat ratings, quite a bit of fake news seeps in.

Some people know that certain channels do stories on companies just to harass them. But who will question the media? Who will ask if the story I’m reading is absolutely accurate and true?

With questionable watchdogs and open scandals, the citizen wants to do something. But what? Where does one turn to for action? Even though small time, group efforts are commendable, it would need one head to direct it all. And turns out, every head has its shares of snakes hidden.

Anna Hazare movement was something that began beautifully. We thought it was the dawn of a new era… but once accusations started flowing, it went damp and along with it, public hope.

Reuters published an article about the waning flame of ‘Incredible India’. It says there that nobody in the machinery wants to take decisions right now, fearing spotlight. And without Sonia Gandhi, the party has lost is bearing.

A little scary to realise that the hands of the world’s largest democracy lies in the hands of one woman who might not particularly care about the country at all. While I do not have any problems with her country of origin… plenty of people have married into India and made it there own… I do wonder if she really can understand the Indian mindset, given that she did not marry into a normal middle class family. She married into almost the royals in the country. So like every king and queen, she knows of the 21st century version of the polo matches and ghazal evenings but not how it feels to travel by the Mumbai train every day, to be stuck in a traffic jam, to face pension woes.

But if not Sonia Gandhi and her Congress, would it be the BJP?

I’ve always been anti-BJP. Even though they bring ‘prosperity’ into the city/town, it is at the cost of an increased alienation of the minorities. India is a secular country. Not Hindu. Not Muslim. Not anything else. Secular, by its definition, means there has to be space made for everyone.

There has been a rise in fundamentalism as soon as the BJP government entered the state. Would you ignore it in return for better roads and factories if soon those very places will be a spot of contention based on religion? Would you support it when they start stripping away pieces of Indian history, trying to eliminate parts they deem not suitable for the next generation?

What is the point of mere economic progress if they take us back a hundred years in every other way? India needs to step forward together… leave behind old prejudices about caste and religion and sexual differences. That includes the minorities, and in certain cases, the reservations made for the ‘underprivileged’.

The definition of that word needs to be revised.

A friend argues that it has been difficult for the Karnataka governments to do much in preceeding years given that it has always been the opposition party in the centre. But that just makes me think that we really need a system that the machinery of the government works as it is supposed to, regardless of who is in the centre of state.

What we need a simpler way of functioning, not the ever-bureaucratic, red-taped, convoluted babu system that requires approval from higher authorities for every little thing. Now, the question is, how do we make that happen?

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