CONSTITUTIONAL ideals are under threat. The Republic is falling apart. Our democracy is in danger. Governance has become merely a word. The issues being discussed and debated by various leaders before Elections 2019 are a clear reflection of these dangerous trends that threaten to uproot the four pillars of the parliamentary system. No one’s talking about cures and solutions. Each one is talking about what’s wrong with the other – in finger-pointing exercises of the extreme nature. This at a time when fingers need to point at the moon, rather at the future. At this critical juncture, our politicians are busy looking at the past. These emperors have no clothes, but they continue to walk brazenly, confidently, and aimlessly.
These and related issues form the theme of our cover story package. Several articles in this issue dissect, flesh out, and analyse these worrisome issues. We feel that they need to be put on top of the country’s agenda a few months before the national elections. We think that although micro national and local needs are important, this is an opportune time to re-look at how society has changed, and sharply deviated from the ideals we cherished. MG Devesahayam, through devastatingly clear logic, establishes how our democracy has been replaced “by a creeping ‘plutocracy cum kleptocracy’ marked by slavish flattery, autocratic arrogance, unbridled greed and criminalised corruption. In the event, the Indian Republic, so painstakingly constructed by our Founding Fathers, is falling apart and is on the precipice of collapse.”
MK Shukla, apart from focusing on political and global issues, describes the financial mess in the country. This government hasn’t shown any inclination to be pragmatic in financial matters. In fact, it has “displayed a fatal tendency to jump without thinking”. Not that the previous regimes were any better. In a bid to build vote banks, and try to be on top of the electoral arithmetic, they doled out money in the form of ridiculous welfare schemes. The result was an insolvent nation, almost literally. The bankruptcy is visible in the arena of ideas and governance. For most political parties, Agenda 2019 will be the same as Agenda 2014.
When the election manifestos are released, we will see that the same issues will be addressed in almost similar manner as was the case five years ago. Nothing will change, apart from the language and the edginess of the rhetoric. Electoral promises and election jhumle will be the solutions offered by the political parties. On one hand, they will talk about a transformation of India, building of a new India. On the other, they will continue to list the sops and incentives they will provide if they are voted to power. This was true 70 years ago. This will be true in a few weeks. The more things seem to change, the more they will remain the same. A complete intellectual bust!
A successful leader needs to do two things. The first is to initially rekindle hope in the hearts of the people, and ignite the idea of a possible change in their minds. Narendra Modi did this admirably in 2014. He pitched himself as the panacea for problems such as growth, development, unemployment, and corruption. He got bogged down by the second requirement – delivery. Obviously, the best thing for a leader is to deliver what he or she promised – at least some of them. In the absence of such results, he or she needs to keep alive the perception of change among the masses. This didn’t happen. Nor can we expect other leaders, like Rahul Gandhi, to do so.
We, the people of India, are forced to choose the lesser evil. What a paradox!