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Wednesday, January 15, 2014


(This article was published in the Pioneer of 31/1/2014)
The emergence of a true leader who has the courage and the gumption to take on the system, and not merely tinker with it for marginal improvements, is the need of the hour. Unfortunately, this country is yet to be blessed with such a leader
It was an inspiring address, delivered by the first Prime Minister of independent India in the first hour of day one, that raised the hopes of an entire nation. The lines that really stood out in that tryst with destiny speech were: “The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?”
India has since then been a land of missed opportunities. Many wonder if we can afford to miss it this time again. Opportunity is not for a select few to occupy high chairs but for genuine nation-building. The realisation that nation- building requires the toil of generations and definitely does not come cheap, has not sunk into the Indian psyche. That there is no quick-fix, and a mere display of intentions and rhetoric is not going to take us anywhere needs to be understood. It is paramount that India’s Gross Domestic Product grows in sync with the developed world.
For the past 67 years, with the exception of the initial few, what the nation has witnessed is a clamour for power, purely for personal gains. Modern day political dynasties, that the nation has not been able to discard, have evolved out of this clamour for power. While some have maintained an association with power since that ‘tryst with destiny’, many other political families (though not as powerful) have also emerged and produced successful second and third generation politicians, occupying benches in the hallowed portals of Parliament and State legislatures across the country. We are taken in by names, and name-throwing has, therefore, emerged as the biggest past-time of the ruling and ruled classes.
What is nation-building all about? A great example is the rise of Germany after its defeats in the first and the second world wars. Its rise after the first war was fuelled by national pride and the leadership of one single individual; after the second, it was the collective effort of its citizens to restore the nation to  its earlier position of glory that made all the difference.
In India’s context, the issues are a bit different. At the time of independence, we were like a child who had been let free. A nation of uneducated people, torrid infrastructure, rampant poverty that was divided on caste and regional lines, was handed the baton with the mandate to govern itself. The ruling classes saw themselves in the same mould as the departing occupiers. Therefore, though the machinery for governance warranted a total overhaul, it was merely tinkered with for minimal effect. The euphoria of independence soon evaporated. Therefore, while minor improvements in infrastructure and major changes in the availability of consumer goods may be visible today, the nation has been slipping down the human development and transparency indices.
India is yet to be blessed with a leader who openly shares his resolve to take the nation forward. Someone who openly declares his abhorrence for corruption and resolves to hit graft at it its roots shall be the one who can build the nation of our dreams. A person who has a vision, sets targets and takes the nation forward by delivering, not merely pontificating on providing governance, education and infrastructure.
The emergence of a true leader who has the courage and the gumption to take on the system, and not merely tinker with it for marginal improvements, is the need of the hour.  Only such leaders are remembered as nation builders. All others merely had a great time.

Friday, January 10, 2014

U turns for India!

History is indeed being created at a rapid pace in the country of today. In a period barely exceeding over a year, the nation has been witness to a cataclysm of events with potential to lead to major changes in the nation.

There have been four turning points in recent times.

The first was the call of Anna Hazare that brought out people in large numbers on the streets of Delhi, to vent their anger against the blatant and brazen connivance of those who rule with those who loot and the fading away of the difference between the two. The call of Anna for setting up a Lokpal to deal with the looming cloud of corruption touched the finer chords in the hearts of the people. The insensitivity of the rulers towards their duties and the people who gave them the power was the final straw, but this was just the beginning of a tidal wave, yet none realized it then.

The next was the outpouring of anger, emotions and people on the streets of Delhi in solidarity with Nirbhaya, the young girl who was brutally defiled in the capital city of the nation. It was also perhaps the first time in the history of independent India that the middle class walked out of the confines of their homes to face water cannons in cold winter evenings just to register their anger with the incident that merely affected an individual but with which all identified, as well as a government that had no intent of providing sane and safe governance. Each one of us felt as if raped and abandoned.

The elections to the state assemblies came next and we found the picture of Kejriwal staring at the masses from almost everywhere. His three wheeler campaigns caught the imagination of the people and his personal image stood out among the specter of corrupt politicians, yet none visualized the tsunami that struck the moment counting began. While even die-hard followers of the rebel refused to give him more than a single digit representation in the assembly and any mention of him as the chief minister was considered laughable, yet he emerged from the shadows to occupy Sheela’s chair.  And in the few weeks post occupation his following is visibly on the rise with many portraying him as the main challenger for the national throne. The nation after a long time experienced the intent to provide good governance and it shows.

Perhaps we have the habit of missing pointers, pointers towards the looming change that the nation apparently has been in the throes of yet the established dispensations and surprisingly even the fourth estate miserably failed in judging the tide. These pointers were invariably disposed of with a shrug, as minor irritants in a nation expected to always fall in line with the known devil.

The change is upon us and if we don’t’ realize it even now there is no way we shall not be swept off our feet when the major tide hits the nation. The setting up of helplines against corruption is indeed a first of its kind and definitely something major in a nation plagued regularly by scams of ever growing magnitude. That it is the first of many major changes that shall follow and change the way governance is conducted in the country is a foregone conclusion. Perhaps more than the direct consequences of this step, merely bringing corruption center stage in a nation that so far steadfastly refused to do so is a very major milestone. That the intent of the rulers can also be to inject value systems in the governance machinery so far identified with sloth and self-aggrandizement was never earlier contemplated and with this one stroke, the meaning of governance as understood so far in this country is bound to change.

Gone shall be the days of the extended Raj is what the common man now hopes. He who had given us on hope is now hopeful and that is a very good sign indeed.

I hope India would definitely not miss this U turn towards development and growth!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Please do not let us down Mr Kejriwal!

That the rapidly changing political scenario would ultimately lead to rapid changes in governance is a hope that the aam aadmi of this country is carrying in his heart nowadays. The ascent of Kejriwal marks the beginning of the descent of corrupt politicians.

Sceptics should step aside and allow the man to perform by taking a path that he chooses – after all he has earned the mandate and also the goodwill of the people of Delhi.

Whatever one may say about the Times Now debates, Arnab has a commanding personality. For the aggression and the confidence that he displays he has to be a man of immense conviction and integrity. There are many who dislike him, but in this country of mediocre people, it is rare that a man like him will be lauded universally. Yet I like him and his trampling of puny people with unethical mind-sets, consistently and sanely.

The intransigence and petty mindedness of even well-known political leaders comes out sharply during Arnab’s debates. I fail to understand why even astute politicians are unable to understand that plain acceptance of good as good and bad as bad is what really appeals to the conscience of the ordinary man. Why Pinky Anand of the BJP continued to bat for Yeddy and Sanjay of the Congress for Virbhadra Singh, despite well-known connivance of these two in dubious deals baffled me yesterday.  And that too in the face of an environment suitably tempered by the Kejriwal effect. For once cant’ our political leaders accept that building a government based on integrity and value systems is much more important than building a government at any cost. The means are also as important.

Kejriwal spoke at length yesterday on the floor of the house. He spoke from the heart and that is all that matters. During the Times Now debate yesterday, the man from Samajwadi Party mockingly gave Kejriwal the advantage of a clean slate. He was not prepared to give Kejriwal the credit that is due to him if only for bringing the issue of corruption and mal-governance centre-stage, and I wondered why.

Even the good qualities of a rival need appreciation and acceptance and our so called leaders need to assimilate this basic premise. It is apparent that we have indeed travelled a long way from the times of Nehru and Patel when the battles were issue based and the welfare of the nation the core focus of those manning the treasury as well as the opposition benches.

Perhaps Kejriwal would show the light to the politicos, but who would be the torchbearer for the real culprits – from the bureaucracy. It is they who fail in their duty to function as the conscience keepers of the government and connive with all and sundry purely for personal gains. It is they who derail even the well-meaning politician with a clear intent. It is they who instead of showing the path to glory focus on the path to doom. Perhaps clean politicians with bureaucratic backgrounds on the lines of Kejriwal have a better chance of being able to clean the stables. 

Please do not let us down Mr Kejriwal. There is too much at stake!