What is a Mob to a King? (Rahul Gandhi)
What is a King to a God? (Narendra Modi)
What is a God to a Non-Believer? (Me)
The above lyrics of the song No Church in the Wild by Jay-Z, Kanye West and Frank Ocean seem apt to describe the present situation of the nation. The hoopla and hype over this year’s election seems to have swept the nation. The “Evil” present government needs to be uprooted and the Messiah has come from Gujarat. But from where I stand, the least of my worries is who will become the Prime Minister. I am more concerned about what happened in the United States with the Shutdown and its impact on Indian Politics.
The Affordable Healthcare Act was passed in both Houses of Congress. It was challenged in the Supreme Court where it was deemed constitutional and was upheld as a new law. It was about to become operational from October. But the Opposition party – The Republicans, found a loophole or rather, an opportunity to reverse the law. They refused to pass the budget unless the Healthcare Reform was withdrawn. So a law is made by the Legislature and then the same legislature tries to remove it. Laws once made cannot be removed without a proper amendment or legislative decision – Civics 101. So any chance this can happen in India? Yes; lots of opportunities.
Now that the world has learned a new negotiation tactic, what stops the world’s largest democracy from employing it? I mean we already have disruptions and adjournments because one party or spokesperson said something about another party or politician. We have had violence with words and acts of tearing Bills and screaming at the Chair. The next logical step is to follow the US example. The current or the new opposition is bound to follow this strategy. Make the Law. Get it verified by the judiciary. Then hold the Budget ransom unless the Law is removed.
We are waiting with restless ease for the crowning of a new hope. Some want a youth from a tainted party. Others want a powerhouse orator with a tainted (or allegedly tainted) past. Indian Politics has suddenly become simple for some. But the truth is, whatever the outcome, it is bound to be ineffective on changing our future. Let me list a few instances that will never change.
- One man cannot change a nation. Do not believe me? Ask Barack Obama. He will be able to tell you easily the short list of decisions he could take without Congress. The man who promised change admitted last year that it is not possible to change Washington DC easily. With our glorious record of walkouts, disruptions and wasted Parliament sessions,you think Mr Modi or Gandhi (mentioned here only for fairness. His party gave one of the most disastrous spells of administration since perhaps the Emergency. Their revival to power would be a miracle) can sort that out? If BJP did it for 10 years as opposition, so will Congress.
- Policy Paralysis: Let me define what that means:
2000: BJP introduces bill, Cong dumps it
2005: Cong introduces bill, BJP dumps it
2009: Both decide to split the credit and get it passed
2010:Implementation; If there is criticism for it ,They both juggle blame and vice versa for applause.
Loser: The common man who waited for 10 years.
- Religion and Politics: It should be noted that the BJP has said “Country First”. Not a single BJP member has said that the political party will detach itself completely from Ayodhya issue. I had learned in Civics that political parties should not take up any religious cause or use it as a tool. In a democracy, shouldn’t there be an equal fervor to build a Temple, Mosque, Church, Synagogue, Gurudwara, Derasar and other religious establishments? But for 22 years,the “Hindutva” machine has beat the drum for the Temple either explicitly or implicitly. Recently, The BJP did not let the parliament function because the Ayodhya Yatra- a non-political gimmick which had no explicit BJP purpose was stopped. The charge was led by Sushma Swaraj. Does the fact that the country does not want it at the price of communal and social harmony matter? No.
- The Indian media. It began with cows being kidnapped by aliens using special effects which make a Ramsay Brothers horror film look like Avatar. Now, it involves trivializing major issues and blowing up trivial ones. During the public outrage and anger over the brutal rapes of women, a news channel accused politicians of politicizing the issue. Do you want to know what the news channel did after the story broke? They ran to a politician for comments. Was he related to the victim? Does he/she go to work and return in public transport? No. He was a public figure who saw prime-time coverage coming and said something – intentional or idiotic. When there is a human being dying, you do not go to a cobbler to get him fixed. Same logic. Also, a story does not end when you desire. A story ends when it actually does. Do not play Gods and abandon it when you wish. Case in point: Irom Sharmila. Don’t know her? Google her name. Don’t get me started about the first response questions such as –“ Aapko Kaisa Lag Raha Hain?”
- When the Lower Parel rape case was first reported, the response was of shock because it happened in Mumbai-“the Safest City In India”. In my school we were about to know the top ranks for the term. The teacher said just before announcing the result – “Don’t feel too good about it. A topper in this class is like “Andhon main Kanda Raja”( Among blind people, even a man with at least one eye working is considered the king). That is the same condition of the Indian cities. Safest city in a nation does not suffer from repeated terror attacks. If it is the safest city, then when June and July approach, why does my heart stop? Why do I feel like pinning a bravery medal on my dad before he leaves for his shop in the heart of Mumbai? Because in July 2006 blast, it was a matter of close to 15-30 minutes when he did not board those rigged trains. Because in July 2011, the bomb explosion was in the lane next to his shop. Bus, train, hotels and restaurants have all faced repeated attacks. Safest City? I will retain the expletive in my head.
- “India is the rising superpower”. If it is, why can’t it stop terrorism or anti-India movements? There is an organization and a man across the border spewing hatred for reasons no one can fathom. There is the 2nd largest economy in the world which is encroaching on our territory. We reply with the most timid response imaginable. Do you think a leader will change that? I have my doubts. Speeches are great before election. After that, they become “emotional knee-jerk reactions”.
- We also forget that there is a movement in our nation at present which seeks to disrupt the current set of democracy. The Naxal movement is waging an internal strife with the Indian state. Who is paying? The poor foot soldier and civilians trapped in a fight they never asked for. Are we ever going to hear a collective apology from our leaders that there has to be some amount of truth and reason behind citizens of India revolting against it? No one condones their violence. But it is true that some mistakes may have been made in the past to make a part of India feel that they want to use arms against their fellow citizens. Are we ever going to be frank and admit guilt about our lapses to our countrymen? In Kashmir? In the North-East?
- The Congress will still exist. The Indian National Congress was started by A.O. Hume with an intention to get Indians interested in negotiating their rights and to further encourage a democratic process in the British Empire’s most important colony. It soon spearheaded the Indian Freedom Movement. But the short-sightedness of the leaders was appalling. India was the youngest and one of the largest democracies at its time of birth. We fought for freedom. But what about after that? Can democracy exist with one party? No opponents? The congress continued to exist even after 1947 , against the alleged wishes of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhai Patel. In 2013, it’s position is akin to the famous line from a superhero movie – “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Corruption and scandals aside, it faces a more serious question – What is the future? What do you stand for? Their “Youth” Leader is a person who speaks at opportunistic times and otherwise remains silent. I do not know him or his opinions (both real and fake). Maybe the mistake of not demanding a split in Indian National Congress after 1947 or its dissolution into smaller parties, each with a pressing issue, is the price we pay today. For we may pretend as much as we can, but for essentially 30 years of our freedom from the British, we were in a form of subtle dictatorship. Democracy is not about who is right, it is about everyone who is right in some way. Therein lays the basic concept of Debate.
I have an exhaustive list of things which I believe will remain in status quo even after the election. But in my last few words, I will talk about the issue which will be called the nucleus of election – Development. We are going to naturally become a large and dominant economy. Demography and economics will ensure that. Do I believe that our leaders and political machinery will do anything to speed it up? No. But I do hope they don’t. Because a great nation does not worry about just “How it will get there” but “What it will do” once it does. The next election will be 2019. The world will be very different then. What is India’s policy on World Hunger? Coping Climate Change? Resource Depletion? Nuclear arms? If we want to be Numero Uno, we need to think about questions and answers which no one is. Have we even started ?
So go ahead and criticize me, tell me that I will be proved wrong. Nothing will make me happier than being proved wrong at this instance. Pull out your hats and campaign for your candidate. Do remember that this is a Parliamentary Democracy where you can only vote for that unknown MP of your ward or district. Also who you see only once in five years, unless a smiling face on large life-size, illegal posters and hoardings count. Who always remains silent and unclear and whose viewpoint you will never know because we do not provide for debates. All the Best with that. What will I do? I will use the new gift I got this year – None Of The Above. Don’t know what that is? Google it with “Indian Supreme Court”. Enjoy your democracy! Cheers!