How long will the patient, long-suffering Indian keep calm—his fury will soon break out

India is the world’s youngest democracy, but six decades after the republic was set up, it is high time the populace gets the governance it deserves. Our democracy has matured enough, but corruption is a deep-rooted malaise

Over a decade back, in 2000, on the occasion of the golden jubilee of the Indian Republic, then President KR Narayanan, quoted John Dryden, when he sternly warned that "Beware of the fury of the patient, long-suffering  people." Dryden's saying equally applies to the Indian aam janata of today.

Even after 11 years down the line, in 2011, Dryden's sane warning has not yet driven home the message to our elected representatives, bureaucrats and business czars. The economic gains instead of trickling downwards to the underprivileged are being corned by the powers-that-be- with the rich growing richer, and the poor be damned!

Economist SS Tarapore, a former RBI deputy governor, rightly points out: "Given the large number of the poor in our country, a 6%-7% sustained growth with 3%-4% inflation would be preferable to a 9% growth with 9%-10% inflation."   

But our GDP growth seems to be on track, but inflation shows no sign of abating.

During a hearing into the 2G spectrum case, the Supreme Court bench rightly remarked -"We have a large number of persons who think they are the law. The law must catch them. Post-liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation, the government is dragging its feet on getting back the black wealth stashed abroad, even when the Swiss authorities have come forward to furnish the wrongdoers' names, but it (the Centre) is busy organizing cover-ups. Never before has free India witnessed such serious charges of corruption and wrongdoings of rampant loot of precious national resources by those in authority involved in blatant cover-ups with plain untruths-even challenging the findings of constitutional bodies like the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) who have reported the spectrum fraud of Rs. 1.76 lakh crores and ISRO with Rs2 lakh crore."

However, the prime minister is not necessarily monetarily corrupt. History has it that the French, American and Russian Revolutions were caused when the peoples' power rose in full fury. The sub-prime crisis that caused the massive financial meltdown in the US brought about the state intervention via  'socialisation' into the heart of free market capitalism-the United States of America, when the free market professing US Administration/State perforce pumped in billions to bail out "stressed" banks and big businesses. This infection in turn hit hard Europe via the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) economies.

There is rise in unemployment, galloping inflation and growing bankruptcies all taking their economies into a spiral-and giving the European 'Union' a serious setback.  

You could say: Mera Bharat mahaan, hum sub hai pareshaan kyo ki 99% hai beimaan! (Our country is great, but we are all helpless, because 99% are hopeless).

Our national Budgets get passed-without debates.

Charges of corruption are flying thick and fast, hardly reviving old issues and adding newer ones reaching the highest echelons-FIRs against former Union ministers, the State CM, two army and one navy chief -along with other top army brass involved in 'the Flats-for-Kargil' scam, the Commonwealth Games scandal… this is a very long list. A senior counsel, filing a PIL (public interest litigation) in the Supreme Court alleges that eight Chief Justices of India are corrupt.   

Corporate bigwigs have been caught red-handed trying to stall further exposures citing "invasion of individual privacy" in the spectrum-for-sale scandal, when they themselves are found to blatantly infringe public space by jumping queues to corner spectrums.

They do not hesitate to perpetuate corruption via multi-crore corporate public relations lobbyists. They ship payments to corporate lobbyists to swing deals in their favour, and yet complain of 'sleepless nights' over demands of Rs15 crore for setting up a new domestic airline. The company failed to deposit the entry fee, furnish bank guarantees and sign licence agreements for which they sought and were given several extensions. Nobody challenges another corporate head when he publically pointed out that there is a definite nexus between business and politicians.

Swapan Dasgupta, a veteran political commentator, rightly says-"We don't have any opposition worth the name-the Congress has given the BJP a chance to go prowling for simple minded suckers. For its own sake, BJP has to ensure its mad caps are kept behind closed doors." WikiLeaks has exposed the Achilles heels of both the Congress and BJP in an equal manner, leaving both parties red-faced.

The Union agriculture minister says he is not responsible for the food inflation that is exceeding an all-time high of 15%-the onions, garlic and tomatoes are not on his platter! We also have a scam-tainted Chief Ombudsman, the Chief Vigilance Commissioner who claims that he is only charged with criminal conspiracy and not criminal acts!  The brother and son-in-law of an ex-Chief Justice become millionaires during his term of office. He continues to enjoy his post-retirement office as Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission with all attendant perks.

Doctors and hospitals blatantly overcharge when they come to know that patients are reimbursed, forcing health insurers to unilaterally pull out of cashless health-cover, crying over losses that are bleeding them. World bodies are refusing to extend lines of credit. Public transport is creaking at its seams. Power shortages-unheard of earlier-have reached Mumbai's eastern suburbs. The local water, petrol and land mafia are operating freely. Food inflation has shot through the roof. Mumbai is adding to its billionaires and high-rise luxury apartments with in-house gyms, swimming pools and will soon add rooftop helipads. Neighboring Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka have overtaken Maharashtra, shaking overseas and domestic investors' confidence in the state administration.

While addressing state chief secretaries on 4 February 2011, Dr Manmohan Singh said - "Corruption strikes at the roots of good governance, it is an impediment to faster growth, it dilutes, if not negates efforts at social inclusion, dents our international image and demeans us before our own people. Inflation poses a serious threat to the growth momentum, it is mostly driven by supply-side shortages."   

Speaking later at the 17th Commonwealth Law Conference, the PM demanded, "power of judicial review must never be used to erode the legitimate growth assigned to other branches."

At the same venue, the Chief Justice slammed the government on the issue of food security and lack of inclusive financial growth. At another conference in Mumbai Supreme Court Justice Ganguly asked how former Maharashtra CM Vilasrao  Deshmukh has been allowed to continue as a minister in the Union Cabinet after he was rapped by the Supreme Court in December, terming his interference with the police from taking action against a Congress MLA-moneylender, his behavior being "anachronistic and incongruous" and the High Court fine of Rs25,000, which was subsequently  enhanced to  Rs10 lakh.   

The Supreme Court had remarked that the CM's behaviour was condemnable as he had acted beyond all legal norms for political considerations despite the Vidarbha region having the dubious distinction of witnessing the largest number of farmer suicides. Considering the large volumes of scams/frauds, a Bengaluru-based Chartered Accountant has proposed a punitive tax to serve both as a deterrent and punishment by christening it a 'Sin Tax' on tobacco and alcohol, and another tax yet to be named, of a flat 40%-50% of the amount evaded on those who intentionally violate tax and forex laws instead of resorting to amnesty schemes.

A long time ago, what Lord Macaulay said of British politicians of his times aptly applies to our today's netas, that they are a blend of "Whatsoever things are false, whatsoever things are dishonest, whatsoever things are impure, whatsoever things are hateful, whatsoever things are of evil report, if there be any vice and if there be any infamy."

(This author is a chartered accountant and activist.)

Comments
RNandakumar
1 decade ago
The democracy we have now is devoluted from the date of its declaration. From1947 to now we have progressed to circumvent law so that criminal and scoundrels could unblinkingly parade as CMs or ministers. Only a miracle can bring a transparent and unbiased law implimentation where there will be only two classes of citizens. Law-abiding living freely and criminals living behind bars.Then only India could claim itself as a developed country. Until then we could be only a Bana- Republic
Shadi Katyal
1 decade ago
We Indians had been so far misled about our past history and some how we live in dreamland of past glory. we forget that we might have give 0 to the world but we are cipher ourselves. It is not we lack brain or innovations but it is the climate of the nation which doesn't allow us to move on. How do you can't change the mind set of such masses.
Has anyone evaluated that why this nation was enslaved for so long, How come Churchill could read us better about our management?
India has unfortunately got the most soft Constitution which can be amended or changed on will of ruling parties.It protects the corrupt Govt officials and our election system is the worst,a copy of our Masters.How can a film star living in Mumbai being electe3d from Punjab or Bihar can help the constituency when he/she is not even resident.There is no accountability of Crores given for the voters when first elected and one can write what is wrong but unfortunately we are so emotional that we cannot hear any criticism of our leaders as they are our gods.
The case in question of recent ban on book on Gandhi.
We are incapable to build/produce/manufacture anything of quality and that is true of our people in govt.
It is nation where whom you know and not what you know, Whereas we Indians have proved our metal abroad as it is what you know matters.
One doubts if there will be any changes in India as we live on a motto
CHALTA HAI BHAI
kumar
1 decade ago
INDIA IS WORLD'S LARGEST FARCE-O-CRACY WITH DEMOCRACY AS A FAKE MUKHOTA!

POLITICIANS HAVE USED IS TO ONLY GET ELECTED. AFTER THAT, IT IS PUT INTO COLD STORAGE UNTIL NEXT ELEXION & UNTIL THEN ALL SORTS OF DICTATORSHIP, AUTOCRACY, DADAGIRI IS DONE ON ONE & ALL!

D S Bagga
1 decade ago
Just a few years ago we celebrated the fiftieth year of our freedom and democracy. We indeed marked the intellectual menopause of our polity and governance. Why remember that which we have irretrievably lost unless there is a way of recovering it.
pravin
1 decade ago
"a Bengaluru-based Chartered Accountant has proposed a punitive tax to serve both as a deterrent and punishment by christening it a 'Sin Tax' on tobacco and alcohol, "

great.speak about avoiding the topic altogether.so somebody is pissed off with smokers and drinkers and now they want to blame all tax evasion on these people? give me a break. all smokers and drinkers pay their own hard earned money on the stuff they like.on the other hand,there are political parties who want to give "free" (read funded by taxpayer) laptops,grinders and other assorted stuff to their votebanks.whats not to love about democracy.it works great for sheeple.
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