Monday, August 22, 2011

The Great Disconnect - Civil Society & Political Class

Middle India - The Educated Urban Middle Class, accused of usurping more than it's fair share of the shining India & cynical towards politics, has largely been ignored by the political class. Politicians scornfully ridicule Middle India for it’s self-centric obsession & scant regard for the democratic institutions.

The failure of Middle India focused "India Shining" campaign of NDA in 2004 & effectiveness of NREGA & farm loan waivers to bring UPA back to the power in 2009 has given credence to this political belief that courting rural & poor India will yield political dividends where as Middle India can be left to fend for itself & suffer the bad governance.

Given this indifference by Middle India, which has the ability & intelligence to question, political class & bureaucracy were running amok. Corruption reached unimaginable proportions.

While ambivalent to politics, this loot by politicians & bureaucrats made middle India restless. Unfortunately, having no leverage with the political class, this resentment of Middle India remained limited to TV debates & drawing room discussions.

Along came Anna, the man with no baggage & clean image. The same middle India, which had been written off by the politicians, came out in hundreds of thousands to the utter shock & disbelief of the political class. They have no clue as to how to handle this new beast. With general elections 3 years away, unless UPA does further bungling, they are hoping that storm will blow over & they will carry on with their business of politics as usual.

Hopefully this time it will be different. This agitation has brought people from different walks of life on a common platform. With mass media, Face Book & Twitter, Middle India has learned to communicate & organize itself, which it lacked earlier.

New leaders are emerging from this movement who will TRULY represent their electorate & not be held hostage to party affiliations & whips. They will be of independent thinking who will listen to their conscience & will stand by their electorate.

Current 200+ urban Lok Sabha seats will increase in number with rapid urbanization & Middle India will become relevant again, politically.

As Mahatma Gandhi Said - "Initially they will ignore you, then they will laugh at you, then they will fight with you & finally you will win". To Middle India - It is our time & it is our battle to win. Let's march ahead.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It is Emergency like situation!

Arresting Anna Hazare & other Anti-Corruption protesters was undemocratic & reminded us of the days of emergency, though UPA has officially not declared the emergency yet.

In 1975, government headed by Mrs Indira Gandhi was under pressure from JP Movement, when Allahabad High Court invalidated the election of Mrs Indira Gandhi. This was the last straw. When Government saw it'spolicies & position untenable, they resorted to the imposition Emergency, the black spot on our democracy.

Current UPA governement, which is mired in corruption charges, feels the same presseure in Anna's anti-corruption movement. The argument of law & order given by the central government is hollow at best. Arresting Anna is an act of sheer desperation by UPA.

The logic that once a bill is placed in Parliament, public has no right to protest is ridiculus & wrong in law. Public has all the right to voice it's concern & give it's suggestion at any stage of law formulation.

The very fact that government has overruled the suggestions given by the civil society members of the drafting committee is the reason behind this protest. Now asking that since the bill is already in the parliament, hence you should not protest, is beyond comprehension. If a wrong & ineffective bill is being tabled in parliament, should people not protest. The current Lokpal Bill being considered by standing committe of the parliamnet is toothless & will do little to curb corruption.

The other argument that Parliament has the authority to legislate & civil society has no role is also ridiculus. There is a feeling among common citizens that our elected representatives have failed in framing effective anti-corruption laws & governance policies.

People's tolerance & patience is wearing thin. With scams galore, people are loosing faith in government's ability to tackle corruption. Hence they have taken it upon themselves to ensure that this bill is strong & effective against corrution.

There is an all round failure of governance. Many of our ministers & MPs are lodged in jails on corruption charges. Under these circumstances it is natural for people to feel betrayed by their elected representatives. They feel that their MPs may represent them electorally but their ethos are not being represented by current political class. To me it seems the begining of an end to current ways of money & muscle politics. Anna movement has galvanized concerned citizens & educated middle class, which has found a credible leader & worthy cause to rally behind. Nation's mood has changed but unfortunately political class is still refusing to see the writing on the wall. Sooner they do, better for us all.