Put your faith in the voters’ wisdom
Too many challenges, too few beacons
By Meenakashi Lekhi
The tough times being faced by the country are only going to get tougher. If anyone who has taken the mantel of leading a public life with social or national concern, it is time to introspect and evaluate one’s personal and institutional readiness for future exigencies.
Net was overloaded with grief expressed over Steve Jobs’ premature death. An inventor whose patented products are enjoyed across the world, but none seems to be bothered about the graver issues facing India. If rest of the world is not concerned with issues faced by India , it does not bother me but if same attitude of unconcern is shown by my fellow citizens it affects me and hurts me deeply.I do wish to draw attention of my fellow citizens on these issues.
No one is saying: Here is the world we are living in; these are the patterns staring us in our face; let us get up from our slumber; the uncaring, unconcerned attitude will not work. India in its physical entity will not survive; to ensure that it not only survives but thrives we need to have a vision and a commitment. As nothing worth a while ever comes easy, even this is not going to come easy. I either laugh or cry looking at the manner in which issues of governance are being dealt with.
The very first issue threatening the existence of India is corruption in high offices. The Congress Party has taken over the government in the Centre and various states by the cult of scams. The Prime Minister of a grand country called India is functioning like a representative of Nehru-Gandhi family or at best a political party. While one after the other frauds are being constantly unearthed, the Prime Minister complains that the grand old party has tried to block him at every turn and he has been kept in the dark. If the same is true then does he have the moral right to continue as the head of a headless government? How can any head or chief of a government get away from taking on the responsibility of decisions by his Cabinet and counsel of ministers? The Prime Minister, who is known to be an economist of repute, ironically has no vision either to develop infrastructure or control the issue of price rise, even for essential commodities, which directly affect the poor. A weak or a ceremonial head alone as a Prime Minister does not argue well for resolving the problems being faced by the country. We cannot be indulgent towards all forms of corruption and yet develop or cut a way to prosperity. We can only invent our way to prosperity and development; as was understood and practiced by Job. The governance has necessarily to mean making common person’s life comfortable and secure. National, democratic governance itself integrates the country; I do not really have to spell out the results of its absence.
We are faced with Pakistan sponsored terrorism in the western part of our country. Separatist movements with the easy help from across the border are threatening everyday life of a common person both in the Valley and outside. We as a nation are surrounded by radicalised nations some of them have and others are on the verge of being declared as failed states. The foreign nations are exporting and sponsoring violence across India. Our crucial economic and military resources are tied up while dealing with cross border violence. There are instances of Islamist terror attacks and some erruptions of Hindu – Muslim violence, coming from radicalisation of society and intolerance propaganda from “Wahhabi” form of Islam, again “Petro dollar” sponsored mechanism.
A Sufi Ulema conference held recently, expressed its concern about most Islamic institutions which are being controlled by cash rich Wahhabi organisations and individuals. Muslims in India primarily follow Sufism and Wahhabism is now being forced upon them. India has the second largest Muslim population in the world and most of them are grounded in native cultures. Muslims and Hindus are well integrated into Indian society, yet attempts are made to co-opt them into international pan-Islamist programmes. Very apparent examples of this threat are misinformation campaigns run regularly and for a long duration about Gujarat riots. Another shocking instance is the use of burqua in Kashmir and Assam, where women have traditionally worn Phiren and Saree respectively, just a couple of years ago.
Will someone wake-up to the reality of Maoist threat and launch a nation wide operation? A common person and specially an “Adivasi” deserves a better deal. The falsehood spread by the celebrity intellectuals, groomed by the west needs to be checked. Maoist insurgency is not a war between haves and have-nots. Maoists are not only better armed and trained but have better equipment and intelligence facilities then most State police officers. Schools are shut down, women and children have been employed to carry out subversive agendas. The largest casualty in numbers is that of a common person, then comes the security forces and then comes a very minuscule number of insurgents.
Enormous funds are required for a variety of logistic support, media propaganda to ground level weapons. This money is either coming through foreign funded NGO’s or through corporate extortions, which are channelised through NGO’s. Visiting tourists and international donor agencies too are operating as funding agents. The insurgents like terrorists use celebrities, intellectuals to push their case in public, which is in the nature of a public relation exercise. A dialogue with the self appointed or state appointed mediators or non-state subjects, bypassing the state and its agencies indicates how entrenched the civil society members are in uncivil activities. Apart from the fact that both Maoist and insurgency in the north-east of India are Chinese sponsored. China is pursuing its own agenda of supremacy and dominance in the subcontinent and the world. The cyber espionage, to road links around the north and the north-eastern frontier, to the presence in Bay of Bengal and digging the continental shelf and the list of misdemeanours by the China goes on. Under the listed circumstances, are we ready with our strategies to contain China?
India’s integrity is further challenged by fostering Dravidian and Dalit identity in the name of human rights. The role of the church, foreign governments, celebrities intellectuals, NGOs and human rights groups needs to be exposed in fostering separate and exclusivist identity rather than collective inclusive national identity. The money trails which starts of as one for a social cause ends up producing disenchanted and disconnected youth getting alienated from collective Indian identity.
Somewhere, I put my faith in today’s voter, who understands the basic problem which the country is facing today. The voter may or may not know the gravity or magnitude of the problems, I have referred to. The voters are looking for leaders, who can offer a grand vision of a grand nation. We need a leader who like Steve Jobs can change our times and make life better for every Indian. Personal likes or dislikes, likewise personal egos or aspirations need to be cast aside. This is the moment, which can alter the fortunes. The time is ripe to have a leadership that is capable of meeting these challenges; It is a question of survival of a civilisation!
(The writer is a senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India.)