Friday, August 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



A democratic paradox called India: challenge of governance with accountability

This refers to the article "A democratic paradox called India" (Aug 16) by Hari Jaisingh. There is absolutely no doubt that one is compelled to believe in God when one sees how this country is being run. If we analyse it deeply then we will realise that this is due to the inherent strength of a social culture in India which has developed in centuries in the form of love and tolerance.

Though we may become unreasonable to label those as cynics who say that the country is in a state of anarchy, we cannot turn our back towards the truth. It is the truth that we find anarchy whatever segment of governance we may examine. It is the power hungry political leadership which has gradually pushed this nation of gods into this pathetic state.

What is needed today is faster economic growth, a fair social order, credible governance with transparency and accountability in all areas of operation. But like all writers and thinkers, he also has left the million dollar question unanswered: who will bell the cat?

Dr TIRATH GARG, Ferozepur

Positive & negative: As a democratic country, India has two contrary features: one is positive and the other is negative. It is only because of democracy that Ms Mayawati is today the Chief Minister of a big state like U.P. and Mrs Rabri Devi adorns the same office in Bihar. Zamindari has been abolished in all parts of the country and the agriculture workers are now free to move in other states for earning their livelihood.


The people have got the right to vote out the government. The sons and daughters of poor farmers and even farm-hands have now access to primary education. But this is not enough.

The writer aptly describes the state of the poor: "Poverty-stricken faces glow on the reflected glitter of the rich". The overall condition of the marginal farmers and agriculture workers in India is not very encouraging. Their participation in national politics is also just nominal as they can only cast their votes in favour of this or that candidate at the time of elections. Most of them don't have money to contest elections though our Constitution has given them the right to do so. Therefore, they remain on the periphery of our national politics. Their so-called messiahs win elections with the support of money-lenders and business magnates. But they don't have any genuine concern of the poor and downtrodden. So they indulge in a lot of vulgar display of wealth at the wedding ceremonies of their progeny.

The writer argues very logically "More than politics, the distortion of priorities has also played havoc with the common man's dream". In fact, the governments in our states as well as at the Centre never thought about the common man's hopes and aspirations. The common people have been fed upon false promises and hollow assurances for the last 55 years of our Independence.

Not exactly anarchy, but there are symptoms of chaos and disorder in the present day India.

Dr R.B. YADAV DEHATI, Fatehabad

Greed for power: I agree with your contention that India in its present state of governance is a functioning anarchy where discipline, work culture and sense of responsibility and accountability have taken a back seat and the greed for power and money is driving its milieu into neo-feudalism through means fair or foul.

Paradoxically, you suggest that there is a system even in this anarchy wherein the Indian model of anarchical democracy has created stirrings right from the grass-roots which have produced leaders like Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav and his captive Chief Minister-cum-wife Rabri Devi. This phenomenon is pure and simple manifestation of nepotism and criminalisation of our polity and not the culmination of grassroots stirrings. He is nothing but a chief of goons and cheats who has swept to the corridors of power by demagogy wherein he had exploited the cupidity of the simple and gullible people of Bihar and has kept them in a state of stark poverty and extreme backwardness and then by sharing the booty of embezzled state funds among his cohorts. No wonder that the per capita income of Bihar is the lowest despite the fact that Bihar has the largest reserves of mineral resources. He is the darling of the media not because he speaks sense but because of his achievement in out-manoeuvring our inept and incompetent investigating agencies and the judicial system which have enabled him to rule by proxy from jail.

It is a pity that you have eulogised Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, who along with his cohorts have been charge-sheeted for amassing wealth by embezzling government funds in your misplaced belief of his incarnation of grass-roots stirrings and then going to the extent of bracketing him with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Head of the Republic, who is a personification of honesty, integrity, and technological excellence. Mr Hari Jaisingh this is not in keeping with your intellectual caliber and sense of fairness. I can only say "Kahaan Laloo aur kahaan Kalam - Kahaan zameen. kahaan aasman".

Brig W.S. CHOUDHARY (retd), Panchkula

Wrong priorities: Fifty-odd years in the life of a vast nation with heterogenous ethnic culture is not a long period to decide whether it is a functioning anarchy or “anarchy in democracy”. From a food-starved, disease-stricken and poverty-infected country that the Britishers left in 1947, we have grown into a self-dependent, developing nation with a vibrant economy supported by a strong science and technological know-how.

We have not only absorbed large-scale war shocks many times but have also rebuffed outside interference in the form of terrorist-infiltration. It speaks volumes of our cultural heritage that even when we have been surrounded by military regimes in the east and the west, we have maintained healthy democratic traditions of freedom, equality and justice.

All this is good. But what disturbs us is a lack of management accountability and distortions of priorities in our political leadership. Instead of being guided by the national considerations, plans and policies are framed and economic issues are decided on political, partisan and even parochial considerations. This has resulted in a second-grade leadership with doubtful intentions and dubious interests taking the front-stage and causing social tensions and splits.

A direct outcome of such a deterioration in the political leadership is that ours has grown into a system of scams and a society of communal rioting. Ironically, even the redressal against communal frenzy and relief in natural calamities are decided on the caste basis. The regularity with which these incidents are happening, not in a particular region, but in every section of the government and society, is a very painful, if not a dangerous omen for the health and survival of our democracy.

While our political governance needs to inculcate in itself the qualities of transparency and accountability, with a healthy and quick responding judicial redressal mechanism, the general public must awaken to its duty of enforcing effective checks and balances on the political leadership. Only then can we hope for a healthy growth of the Indian democracy.


Socio-economic rejuvenation

Hari Jaisingh's exhortation to give top priority to socio-economic rejuvenation is well-conceived. It reminds me of the Nehru era. The first Prime Minister's profound pity for the plight of the poor, the oppressed and the outcast lifted his social thought far above his political creed. It was he who, more than any other political leader, saw the need for a socio-economic revolution in the country. If he became convinced that the solution of India's socio-economic problems lay in democratic socialism, it was not a vague humanitarian way but in the scientific economic sense. The subsequent Prime Ministers have been far too occupied with the constant threat to their own existence to have neither time nor inclination to worry too much for the poor.

If India were a true democratic welfare state, the concern would have been the people's welfare. But in the political state that we are, the concern naturally is to take care of the politician's welfare at any cost and to hell with the people!



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