If you have a problem, fix it. But train yourself not to worry, worry fixes nothing. - Ernest Hemingway

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Can India be redeemed?

If the ordinance to protect convicted legislators becomes law, the men who raped and killed Nirbhaya in Delhi can theoretically become your MP or MLA one day. It’s a shame that a government can even contemplate such a law. 

I think the thieves in the UPA in general, and the Congress Party in particular, realised soon after 2008 that they would lose the elections in 2014, and decided to make hay while the sun shines. Development and governance were thrown into trash cans and ministers and their cronies joined a gold rush. A series of mega-scams followed. Two-G, Commonwealth Games, Adarsh Housing, Robert Wadhera, Bellary, Coal, Sharda Chit Fund, … we Indians can suffix any goddamned noun with “scam”. There have certainly been many more, the august names I have mentioned are just the peaks. India is blessed with two great mountain ranges of the world, the Himalayas in the north and Corruption throughout its length and breath. Can we ever move the second mountain?

It was a welcome relief to read in today’s papers that Rahul Gandhi, the crown prince of the Gandhi Dynasty, says this ordinance should be torn up. Given the power structure in Congress, it will be. But it raises a question: is this a stage-managed show to propel the young scion into the election battles? Or is this a genuine conflict between the old and the new, the relatively uncorrupted and veteran criminals seeped in sleaze?

We don’t know the answer, at least as yet. But I have always thought that Mr Rahul Gandhi is a well-meaning idiot. I apologise for using the epithet in the public domain, but at times, you cannot make a point if you are politically correct. The point I am trying to make is, in general, I would rather vote for an honest fool than a brilliant crook. But isn’t “honest politician” an oxymoron, like India-made-foreign-liquor?

I do believe everything isn’t lost. For every thief, most political parties also have some honest leaders. Some of them are capable persons too. One of them happened to be my neighbour once. Let me say a few words about him.

In the early 1990s, a multiple-time chief minister of Kerala, Mr AK Antony lived in a tiny two-storey house which his wife, a bank employee, had built in Thiruvananthapuram. I used to cross his house every day. There were a few sleepy policemen, but no picket, no crowd of favour seekers or hangers-on in front of his house. Once, when Antony was the CM, the state government employees went on a continuous strike. The babus frothed in the mouth shouting slogans in front of the state secretariat, but the no-nonsense CM remained cool. His only point, you-don’t-work-so-it-doesn’t-matter-whether-you-are-in-office-or-outside, turned out to be correct. After 40 days or so, the employees returned to office, tail sadly limping between legs.

Is it too late to redeem the situation in our country? Let’s hope not. In 2014, we can and we must vote for the most honest or the least corrupt politician on the rogues’ list, irrespective of their political affiliation. But what if every one of the vote seekers is a big crook?

Well, the Supreme Court’s verdict yesterday, in which the Election Commission was instructed to add a “None of the above (NOTA)” option on voting machines / ballot papers, shows the way. The people of India must prevent the present rogue government bringing in another law to overturn this ruling! However, even if we presume this ruling will not be challenged by politicians, there is still a glitch.

The honourable Supreme Court hasn’t said what will happen if Mr NOTA wins an election!

Kolkata, 28 September 2013