Where are we headed?

Last Updated: Thursday, 12 March 2020 (11:52 IST)
- Inderesh Kumar Jain

1 As I look at the political firmament, obtaining in the country, and if we were to couple this with the deeply divisive and misanthropic rhetoric, which is currently prevalent among all who consider themselves ‘lettered’, I am we are looking at a recipe for lurking on the horizon.
2 What we have witnessed in the recent past, especially in and in UP, and in other parts of the country, as a consequence of the misinformation being spread in the system, which was being touted as the truth, with regard to the ‘citizenship’ imbroglio, is deeply disheartening and dispiriting.
3 As events unfolded, it became increasingly evident that a deep and dark political conspiracy was being hatched. What ostensibly started as a peaceful protest morphed rapidly into mob violence, mayhem and chaos reigned un-checked. This obviously raises some very disturbing questions on the commitment and competence of the police  forces when faced with such a snowballing crises. As a consequence over 40 people lost their lives in Delhi alone, with crores worth of property looted, destroyed and burnt.
 
4 As time goes on things are quietening, flaring tempers are cooling but the wounds run deep and will take ages to fill, even if this were possible. Are we willing to countenance this deep divide which has appeared and has placed all of us on the slippery sidewalk of life as we careen around to find purchase?
 
5 As if this were not enough, political grandstanding and the resulting blame game which ensued, so that accountability is obfuscated and finally is so confused by the ‘fog of war’, that the politician (who is incidentally the main perpetrator) comes out of the morass smelling of roses, while the poor, weak, economically downtrodden loses his life property and liberty.
 
6 Do we as a somewhat ‘fledgling’ democracy; I allude to ours as ‘fledgling’ because we will obviously need to understand that most politicians are somnolent, incompetent and completely self- serving to boot, have what it takes? To therefore; understand this and infuse new blood into a rotting system and thereafter safeguard this ‘new blood’ from contagion and infection, will take us time; fully realise the potential strength that we as the electorate wield? When will we understand that just as we have the power to ‘elect’, we should also have the power to ‘de – elect’ those who are by virtue of their incompetence or greed/gluttony need to be disinvested from the system. As is prevalent in the British Parliamentary system the ‘Power of Recall’ for elected parliamentarians who have gone rogue ie failed to measure to the expectations of their constituents must be considered as essential for our conditions too. This can only come about by a ground swell of opinion in the country, if we are to enforce accountability and impose a sense of caution amongst the polity. Why must the     politician always labour under the misapprehension that he is the sole dispenser of ‘largesse’ and the fount of wisdom of the ages. Democracy is as much about the will of the people being supreme as it is about those who are chosen to enforce that will, being held accountable.
 
7 Take for instance the political charade which is playing out in the country.An elected government, with MLAs who are apparently up for sale to the highest bidder or are taking advantage of the infirmities of the prevailing environment to create a political storm, with the obvious intention of self-gratification. Wounded egos, perceived grievances/ sense of deprivation of not having been acknowledged and not having received a fair share of the ‘spoils of power’ ie influence, authority’ et al; you name it and you have it all in this theatre of the absurd which is currently being witnessed. Those who fashion themselves out to be committed soldiers of a political system, stay loyal only till such time as their ends and ambitions are met/ served; otherwise they are open to the highest bidder.
 
8 This is what our political system reeks of. Is this what we should accept from a system which has been ostensibly designed to strengthen and buttress the foundations of the country? Are we as a nation going to accept the role of being the downtrodden, weak ‘native’ crushed under the jackboot of erstwhile white ‘sahib’, which has been replaced by the politician?
 
9 The North British Review (1870) reported that Lord Acton (a British historian, politician and writer) had said when he had to opine on the top hierarchy in Britain, “ I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge the Pope and the King unlike other men, with favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases………….Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”
 
10 It is therefore axiomatic that holders of high offices must be held accountable to a greater degree in the performance of their duties, and should they default, their sins of omission / commission must be redressed by a far higher degree of scrutiny and the resulting outcome, should it point towards purposeful criminal intent/misdemeanor, attract a far higher degree of punishment. Here the punishment must not only be purely corrective or act as a deterrent, but must be retributive so as to set an example for others. For the perpetrator well knows that in misusing the powers of his office or behaving in a manner that is denigrative, he is guilty of dishonouring the trust reposed in him by the electorate which is completely unacceptable. Where are we headed? Will we wake up in time to stem this rot?
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