How Do We Err
First the disclaimer. I pen the following words not with any hope from the present Indian society infested with the pseudo intellectuals, but for the posterity and to satisfy the urge within.
To begin with, we err in not realising how base we are or have become at the roots as a people, remaining individually good at heart. We are a people having a fake leadership and political system, a fake judiciary and judicial system, a fake bureaucracy and bureaucratic system, and above all a fake media. Of course there are some exceptions here and there. I am not the only one to say so, having brought out this fact amply through my earlier articles and in my book ‘rogues rascals and Eunuchs (pain of an Indian whistle-blower)’, but a number of recent articles by veteran journalists published in the Statesman have also clearly been indicating this fact. To an extent this fact is a result of the crab mentality we Indians are cursed with. Most of the times, we are using up our energies in pulling down the capable and deserving individuals around us, allowing the fake to rise. The correct knowledge of the depth and spread of the rot is necessary before we could think of an effective cure.
Even those of us, who are well aware of the fact and have the best intentions, err in searching for solutions where none exist. Anna, erstwhile team Anna, and lakhs of their active and passive followers are the immediate example. In believing that Janlokpal was a major solution for the deep rooted and widespread ills of the society and that they could force its creation as an outside pressure group, team Anna betrayed some lack of vision; and their mass following proved once again that the masses were governed by nothing but the herd mentality. Theirs has been a failed movement with loss of credibility for their leaders. Had they not erred and had taken the political course earlier than they did, they would not have lost their credibility.
It is an irony that they chose the political recourse at the same time when proving to the world their lack of political acumen. Had they taken this recourse (the only sensible recourse available to them in the first place) without having led the people into doubting their intentions and without having subjected the nation to the farce (as it turned out to be) of yet another fast at jantar mantar, they would have been much better off. Or if all this drama was necessary to sway the herds for a good cause, I won’t complain. All said and done, erstwhile team Anna remains the best among the well meaning Indians in sight and it is unto them to provide the leadership the nation needs and for us to accept and encourage such leadership as and when it emerges.
A failed movement is worse than no movement as it brings more despair to the people. In a similar way as issues are raised without following those to a logical conclusion. Here the Indian media errs the most as they do so day in and day out with no exceptions. Scams are reported, losses to the public exchequer are reported, but one doesn’t come to know of a logical conclusion in one’s life time. The people get more and more demoralized.
Let us see what the culture we nurture is. One playing seemingly fake cricket gets to earn Rs 150 crores (besides undisclosed income) a year and a carpenter or another artisan doing his or her job most professionally and sincerely gets to earn Rs 150 thousand a year. Families known to have looted lakhs of crores of tax payer’s money and stashed it away in foreign banks are chosen to rule us and are sung praises of by the pseudo journalists and the pseudo intellectuals of the country that far outnumber the genuine ones. We as a people bow at their feet day after day. Politicians known to have looted other lakhs of crores are elected and chosen as key central ministers or chief ministers again and again. We waste our energy in creating stars from among us and then use up rest of it in competing with each other in licking their bottoms. Worshipping them becomes our main preoccupation. These are nothing but the manifestations of our culture and the capitalist and democratic systems we feel so proud of.
When we accept these manifestations so nonchalantly, don’t we look very foolish in making so much noise about corruption? We, very seriously err in not realising that corruption is nothing but a by-product of the culture we pursue. Corruption is not the root cause of our evils as everyone conveniently seems to believe, it is a necessary off- shoot of the capitalist and bureaucratic structure we have embraced. And if we are happy with our culture, we should be happy to accept the by-product also. If we don’t like this by-product, we must look for solutions in revolutionary corrections in the economic and political systems we follow.
We err in associating only politicians with corruption and scams most of the time, forgetting how thoroughly base our bureaucracy, the backbone of governance, has become. And that, much more than the politicians, the bureaucrats and the bureaucratic systems, and the judicial systems we have become slave to are responsible for the massive scams we come across on daily basis now. I say this out of my experiences in the Railways, an organisation supposed to be having a better set of bureaucrats in the country. This aspect has come out in better detail in my interview published in the Statesman about a couple of years back under the title ‘Bureaucrats are both running and ruining the country’ and subsequently in my above book.
The most importantly, we reach the height of human foolishness when we abuse and curse our leaders, duly elected and chosen by the people, for their rogue behaviour, not saying a word to ourselves, the people, who had chosen and elected them as their leaders. We happily accept that majority is authority expressing faith in the wisdom of the people all the time, and then question why a majority of ministers and a large number of parliamentarians elected by those very people were corrupt and rogues. Even after experience of 65 years as a free democratic country, we fail to understand that today’s lowest ever level of governance and the highest ever level of corruption are nothing but a necessary outcome of our character and the parliamentary system of democracy we follow with such pride. Not learning from history, we continue to ignore the diseased roots and in vain attempt curing some stray leaves here and there.
Sushma Swaraj, a renowned leader, was all praise for our parliamentary system a few months back for the reason that because of it change of power in the country had always been peaceful. But is that a reason enough to justify the existing system? The bottom line remains that a vast majority of Indians live and die in abject poverty. The disparity between the haves and the have-nots is ever increasing. There is injustice all around. There are so many laws, some of those outright absurd, such that a common man always lives under fear of having broken one or another. The food adulteration and wide spread corruption in medical care adversely affect everyone except probably the VIP’s and the VVIP’s. If this scenario is acceptable to us, fine. If not, nothing but our folly prevents us from achieving better for us.
We err in looking for incremental corrections for a malaise that requires nothing less than total overhaul for cure. Today many voices, Baba Ramdev’s and Anna Hazare’s being the most prominent among them, are talking of need for total systemic overhaul. So did Jaiprakash Narayan talk forty years ago. We as a nation have been talking and saying everything for last sixty five years as it is our favourite pastime. Often we lack in vision and always we lack in action. Deep down most of us do feel need for a revolution not knowing what it should be and how it should come about.
Historically, revolutions the world over have meant a set of people fighting another set of people. In today’s India, the adversaries are anti corruption crusaders led by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev on one side and the present UPA Govt, perceived to be the epitome of corruption, on the other side. But is not this government of the people and by the people, going by the definition of democracy? Isn’t it that the government is as corrupt as it is because we the people and the systems we nurture have been allowing it to be so? Will it be correct to consider a few individuals who happen to be in the government and have amassed massive wealth illegally to be the culprit now after having encouraged them to indulge in corruption all these years? Are not the people of India the real culprit? Has the world been becoming any better after wars and revolutions involving wars? Is it necessary that for a revolution a set of people must fight another set of people? Couldn’t a revolution be all inclusive where all the people combine and unite to arrive at solutions beneficial to them at large, without indulging in blame games?
Answers to above questions and finding solutions won’t be difficult if we allow ourselves to be dictated by nothing but truth and love (or compassion), the two legs of humanity. Truth and love together. All the religions teach us so and all the literature tells us so. We shall have to unlearn all that we have been following and embark on ‘zero based thinking’ based on the twin virtues and principles of truth and love. That is if we really wish well for our descendants. Otherwise let us continue to engage ourselves in the same vicious circles, exemplified in our late evening TV channel debates involving the luminaries of the society, again and again, to get lost in the quagmire.