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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 43, October 15, 2011

Stark Reality Staring Us In The Face

Editorial

Wednesday 19 October 2011, by SC

The country is facing an unprecedented crisis today.

While veteran BJP leader L.K. Advani has embarked on his new rath yatra, christened as the Jan Chetna Yatra (to demarcate it from the Ram rath yatra he organised in 1990), aimed at fighting corruption and black money, from Bihar’s Sitab Diara, Jayaprakash Narayan’s birthplace, with State CM Nitish Kumar (who was conspicuous by his absence from Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s sadhbhavna fast in Gandhinagar), himself flagging off the 38-day journey, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) delivered a speech at Hyderabad on October 11 bringing out the sad state of affairs in the nation at present.

CAG Vinod Rai’s bold observations in the lecture definitely merit close scrutiny. He openly asserted:

Governance is at its lowest ebb and subject to severe criticism. The morale of the civil servant is low. The credibility of the government is at its lowest. It’s a strong statement but it is the harsh reality. Because of all this, decision-making has become a casualty.

Thereafter he noted:

Today we are facing a testing time in the history of our nation. There has been an erosion of people’s faith in the government. The confidence in public institutions has declined. National trust in the bureaucracy, including the police force, has collapsed. The integrity and professionalism of civil servants is being questioned.

While portraying such a dismal scenario reflective of the overall crisis besetting the society and polity, he did not mince words to further underscore:
We have Chief Ministers and Union Cabinet Ministers who have had to resign or have been sent to jail. Our MPs have been indicted by the judiciary for wrong-doing.

Coming from the CAG the words carried considerable weight as these also exposed the hiatus between those in government and those being governed as never before.

In Hyderabad the same day the Union Minister for Rural Development delivered another lecture. Jairam Ramesh too spoke without equivocation uncovering the root cause behind the Maoist upsurge in the tribal heartland of Central India.

It is not the Naxals who have created the ground situation ripe for the acceptance of their ideology—it is the singular failure of successive governments... to protect the dignity and constitutional rights of the poor and the disadvantaged that has created a fertile breeding ground for violence and given Naxals space to speak the language of social welfare...

He was also outspoken in his praise for the report of the Planning Commission’s 17-member expert group that made a thorough study of the development challenges in the Maoist-affected areas.

...for sheer comprehensiveness and depth of analysis for showing a practical way ahead it has no peers.

This was a far cry from the Union Home Minister’s dismissive attitude to the report while stressing the need for a military solution to the Maoist problem. Does this mean that the government is changing tack? It is difficult to say so at this point in time but what is perceptible is the search for a new alternative route to tackle the problem without totally abandoning the military option.

These events have, however, been overtaken by the shockingly intemperate attack on distinguished Supreme Court advocate and social activist Prashant Bhushan for his remarks on Kashmir by a group of hoodlums surely inspired by Rightwing extremist propaganda bordering on national chauvinism that is an anathema to our secular democracy. The authorities have no doubt condemned the assault and arrested the assailants. But the question that is agitating the minds of every secular democrat is this: by their inaction and indifference are they too not responsible for the growth of such nefarious and pernicious ideology?

Unless members of civil society and well-meaning politicians with or without government assistance boldly come out not just in condemnation of but in building an active movement against such assaults striking at the very foundation of our democratic structure, the designs of the fascist forces cannot be foiled in the long run.

This is the stark reality that stares us in the face today.

October 13 S.C.

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