Too much or too little
There are two schools of thought about Indian neta - especially when it comes to an crisis. One school says, that Indian bureaucracy is the best and can get it done - except it is hobbled by 'interference' from the neta.
The other schools veers to the view which says that Indian netas are doing nothing. It is the netas inaction which is the root of all problems in India. Usually, both schools of thought are used by the same set of people - based on what seems more appropriate for the context.
How can politicians become effective without ‘meddling’, and if they don’t ‘meddle’, we will then blame them for ‘inaction’. So, it has been after the 26/11 terror strike in Mumbai.
The Indian media (especially English) and the India’s Westernized elite has been hounding for blood ever since the terrorist attacks on Mumbai’s upper class business centres for the first time. After the 26/11 attack on Mumbai prime centres, they have been able to force the resignation of Shivraj Patil, India’s Home Minister. Maharashtra’s Home Minister, RR Patil has also resigned. Maharshtra’s Cheif Minister is expected to be replaced also - soon.
Rafiq Zakaria, a Westernized Indian, now a US citizen, said on CNN, at the Global Public Square program.
This crisis has highlighted one of the peculiarities about India. Its society, economy, private sector are amazingly dynamic. The same cannot be said of the Indian state. Government in India is too often weak, divided, incompetent.
The Times Of India, desperately sombrely, thinks, “it is time to ask our politicians: Are you going to go back to playing politics with our lives? Or are you going to do something worthwhile with yours?” The normally incisive, MJ Akbar, falls into the trap of blaming politicians, latching onto politico bashing, by saying, “We have been defeated by incompetent governance, both in Mumbai and Delhi … ineffectual leadership (is) turning a tough nation into a soft state. We should have been world leaders in the war against terrorists, for no nation has more experience Instead we are wallowing in the complacent despair of a continual victim.”
The normally vacuous Lord Baron Meghnad Desai,writing in the Indian Express, continued with his inanities, “It is a test of leadership. Can India’s political parties, tested for 60 years in the crucible of democracy, rise to this occasion and save our country?” Hindustan Times joins in with its own two bits. Inderji Hazra, in a very superior fashion writes, but does not see the contradiction when he talks about ‘Frankly, the ‘lack of form’ shown by our political class isn’t a big deal for me … The two things: political meddling and the law of averages.”
Mint, a sister publication of HT and WSJ, was out with its editor saying, "The heads have started rolling --- and high time too. While people such as Shivraj Patil, Vilasrao Deshmukh and R.R. Patil deserve to be sacked, this is also a good time to look at the overall leadership deficit in India."
Anti-neta colonial legacy
From colonial times, the Indian neta has been a favorite target of smear campaigns, innuendo and propaganda. Colonial administration in India worked hard to undermine the credibility of the Indian ‘neta’ -for obvious reasons. Colonial bureaucrats (and their successors, the IAS) covered their incompetence and corruption with this lopsided image of the neta. Indians politicians are possibly as corrupt as any others in the world.
Ask the Japanese about Kakui Tanaka and Lockheed affair. Or ask the British about Mark Thatcher shenanigans. But don’t ask Americans about the son of bootlegger who flouted the US Constitution many times - John F.Kennedy. After JFK’s killing, 60 years on, there are many suspects who had motives. Mafia tops this list.
The State Of Foreign Affairs
The state of inter-government relations in South Asia is a sign of lazy Indian diplomatic corps (the IFS) which considers all these neighbourhood postings as ‘punishment’ postings. The ‘best’ of IFS corps wants postings to Western capitals. Like the IAS, the IFS is another albatross around India’s neck.
A large part of India’s Foreign Ministry budget goes towards Western engagement (for proof, look at the dubious Festivals of India in USA, France, Russia, Britain, etc). Instead if the same money was spent in the sub-continent, it would have been better spent. The huge monies spent on Western embassies are mis directed. It would be ideal if those Western embassies were Spartan, frugal (I should actually say Gandhian) - and the money saved can be invested in the sub-continent.
No neighbour would want to willingly embrace China! After all, India offers a template that others can use - and China offers a road map that points downhill. It is India’s superior attitude which has made it attractive for our neighbours to embrace China.
For this reason, again SAARC has been bombast - and little action. It is our diplomatic corps that are found wanting. The SAARC opportunities in the economic area are huge - and history is on our side. It is our Western pre-occupation and Pakistani Fixation which are to blame
Let us get real, shall we?
The Indian Government (Central and State together) have an employee base of about 55 lakhs. The number of elected representatives total around 5,500. The Indian population totals 110 crores (1100 million). It makes no sense to make scapegoats of 5500 politicians.
Blaming politicians, who are temporary office bearers, is escapist and is a well tuned strategy by the entrenched bureaucracy which bears the full responsibility for this - the success of this operation and the lack of efforts to kill this problem at its root.
The Indian himself
Is the Indian looking at himself?
Firstly, the Indian does not want to pay his political leaders. For the last 20 years, I have received this chain mail, which talks about how each politician costs this country Rs.100,000 per hour, etc. What does the Indian expect - 10 million Gandhijis who will serve the country for free?
The same goes for the army, the police and the bureaucrats. The logic here is 'anyway they take so much in bribes that they do not need anything more." Or one step further, "However much you pay these guys, they will not stop. They will continue to take bribes."
It is these Indian attitudes which make for a soft state - and not some 5500 politicians - a mix of great and inane, competent and corrupt.
And the solution starts here with me. Are you with me or against me!!