Tuesday, August 5, 2008

INDIA AT 61

On the 61st anniversary of our Independence, I got this sms from a friend that very nearly summed up my thoughts about my India, in 2008. The sms duly adapted, read........H_indu, Musl_m, S_kh, _sa_, Ja_n, Pars_, Buddh_st, Punjab_, Bengal_, Madras_, Marath_, Kashmir_, etc. etc. See how we loose our _DENT_TY and UN_TY when we forget the 'I' for Indian. Happy Independence Day 2008.
India stands out in the world today as a country that celebrates pluralism and multi-culturism. I believe India is the only country in the world that comprises of many nations that have come together as a civilization and formed a modern political state. Our constitution gives us all the rights of a free country. These rights are very important to each one of us. However, with each right come a number of responsibilities. This is a lesson that we are learning, but very slowly. Some of us, including myself, get exasperated at our attitude towards rights and responsibilities. We tend to quote our experiences in the western democratic world and want India to be fashioned in the good that we have seen there. Well I hope that it would happen, but I also do know that it won't in my lifetime. Why? Simply because we are 1.1 billion strong with a diversity in every term that would terrorise any administrator. We have the poorest and the richest, we have all shades of black, white and grey, we have people practising all religions of the world, we have the most illiterate people and the brightest stars in the world, we have the cleanest homes and the dirtiest surroundings, we value our property and also our encroachments on public property, we question every rule and law even though we know why we need it when it does not suit us and at the same time we throw the rule book at some one who breaks the rules if it does not suit us, we teach honesty to our kids and are dishonest in our lives, we have political leaders who preach patriotism but are not patriotic.......the list goes on and on. Inspite of this, India is a unique country. It is, I believe, God's own favourite creation in which he wanted to showcase the ultimate in diversity and how this diverse humanity, and other life too, can co-exist in ways that are uniquely Indian. I love this creation of God. Long live India, my India. It has many faults; I don't like many things about it, but I love its majestic acceptance of God's will, always and everytime.

ACCOUNTABILITY OF THE EXECUTIVE

The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is going from bad to worse. Yesterday we had a curfew in all districts of the valley. This has happened for the first time after 1990. Who is to blame for this state of affairs? I would blame the executive branch of the government, starting with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. The situation was slowly getting from bad to worse, and the politicians were playing their favourite game of politics. Politicians who occupy Cabinet positions need to rise above party politics and fulfill their constitutional responsibility. It is surprising that we have only one politician who rose above his party to protect the Constitutional responsibility of his Chair - Somnath Chatterji. Cabinet ministers are the executive arm of the government and need to ensure that the laws of the land are upheld at all times. These cabinet ministers have this responsibility to the people of this country. However, our present day politicians, barring Mr Chatterji, never seem to rise above their party politics. This creates problems for the ordinary citizens of India. The ministers firstly donot take effective action themselves. On top of that they stop the government mechanisms from taking any action - the police keep looking for directions to perform their constitutional duty. Why do we let this happen everytime? Can't we respect the chair that we occupy and do justice to it, like Mr Chatterji. Though I have a lot of respect for Dr. Manmohan Singh, I still believe that the Prime Minister is to be blamed for choosing a weak Home Minister. India, with its diversity, needs a very strong and committed Home Minister - a minister who only thinks of upholding the law at all times, irrespective of party affiliations. BJP has also come out like a villian in this case. They were once again found fanning passions, which have gone totally out of control. How can you deny supplies to parts of your own country? You donot even deny food to enemy prisoners and these are your own countrymen. This is just ridiculous. Political issues need to be sorted out politically in a civilized manner, and not by inciting ordinary citizens to break laws, block traffic, uproot railway lines and damage national assets. I do hope and pray that better sense prevails before things really go out of hand.

WHO IS GOVERNING JAMMU AND KASHMIR

The situation in Jammu and Kashmir seems to be going from bad to worse. It all started with Srinagar and the unrest then spread to Jammu and now onto other parts of J & K. The pictures on the TV today are not very pretty. Citizens are seen damaging public property and railway tracks. This is a new trend in India. Gujjars did it, the Sikhs did it and now the Kashmiris are doing it. Eventually anyone who has any grouse against the government is going to do it. Why? Simply because nothing happened to these people even after they had disrupted the rail traffic for days on end. It is just a case of waste of tax payers Rupees.

Who are these people hurting but themselves? Why are they doing it? This is a sign of frustration as there appears to be nobody who they can turn to so as to get their grievances answered. Any time there is a political issue which is supported by any political party, the first casualty is the law and order. Any one and every one holds every one else to ransom and the police just do not appear on the scene. The 'Executive' branch of the triad of democracy has forgotten how to enforce our laws. We do have the finest laws but the machinery to enforce them does not take the requisite steps to enforce it until their political bosses want them to do it. It is a sad commentary on the evolution of our political system. Political parties need to work together to stop this kind of a unrest where normal life is paralysed and the nation's assets are destroyed.