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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

No right to differ!

A worrying trend being recently witnessed across the nation is the inability of the powers that matter to accept that other human beings can have an opinion that is different from theirs and also perhaps that of the establishment. The very recent incident of arrests of two girls at Mumbai, merely for voicing an opinion at variance with the sentiments that flowed and the arrests of cartoonists for drawing caricatures found unacceptable by powerful people are pointers to the widespread surfacing of intolerance even amongst those from whom tolerance is generally expected as a mandatory virtue.

The leaders of yesteryears were towering and also witty personalities who would have borne the sarcasm or a differing viewpoint in such harmless exercises if any, in their stride. Even Nehru, the tallest statesman that this nation has produced was often the butt of many caricatures and satires, but never did he lose his cool or express his annoyance in retaliation. Well that is what differentiates a true leader from the rest, yet our major issues being societal in nature, the “rest” alone cannot be held fully accountable for the torrid state of affairs. 

With bureaucrats it is different. The petty ego that they have been preserving since the beginning of their careers with care flares up at the slightest pretext and a difference of opinion by a subordinate is definitely a major pretext to get annoyed. Fortunately however, while the bureaucrats can create a scene or at best spoil confidential reports and the career of those subservient to them, the politico can manage violence and arrests as recently witnessed. One attempts what he is capable of and there is definitely no case for a moral superiority of one over the other. 

Ego is at the core of the issue. “The bigger the ego, the weaker the performance” is a true saying yet never appreciated in the real sense or perhaps the priorities are more practically poised. It is indeed the misfortune of the nation that for the majority of the politicos and bureaucrats, “ego” is their sole prized possession and hence the passionate struggle for its preservation at the cost of the nation. Petty ego of the powers that matter has with passage of time emerged as the hallmark of developing and underdeveloped nations to their detriment. 

Perhaps it has much to do with being in the league of developing nations even after over sixty five years of existence as a free nation. The inability to make a difference in a system designed to rule and control leads to a loss of pride and self esteem and what better way to restore it, other than by belittling others. And so we have seniors who are unable to accept even minor differences of opinion with the masses that they ostensibly represent and the fleet of bureaucrats literally following in their footsteps.

We as a society need to grow up in the real sense. That the seats of power are a tool to serve the society and the nation and not merely means of self aggrandizement needs appreciation. And regarding a different set of opinion as a sign of dissent is definitely not in tune with the democratic principles of governance.  Moreover the hunger for power merely for raising ones stature and means of sustenance is also not a quality that one looks forward to from those who are meant to govern, not rule the nation.

Good governance is the crying need of the hour and it is indeed sad that it appears to be a utopian concept in the present times.