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Mainstream, VOL L, No 43, October 13, 2012

A Cruel Joke


Tuesday 16 October 2012, by SC

Even as the debate over FDI in multi-brand retail continues in various forms on TV channels and newspaper articles, the alleged favours to the Congress President-cum-UPA chairperson’s son-in-law have lately hogged the headlines thus acquiring national prominence.

The allegations by India Against Corruption (IAC) are doubtless serious and cannot be brushed under the carpet. IAC head Arvind Kejriwal has charged businessman Robert Vadra, a private citizen even if he is the husband of Priyanka Gandhi, with a quid pro quo deal with the real estate company DLF for business on most favourable terms: DLF provided large funds to Vadra to enable him amass considerable real estate while Congress governments in three States extended undue favours to the company. IAC’s accusations must be buttressed by evidence no doubt, but these are of such a nature that they just cannot be dismissed offhand. And a thorough probe is essential to unearth the truth. Curiously this is precisely what not just Vadra but the Congress itself is stonewalling.

Vadra himself has disdainfully rejected the IAC’s charges against him by describing the activists in the organisation as “mango people in a banana republic” without being aware of the implications of the statement that will come to haunt him in the near future.

At the same time The Times of India has pointed to another issue of substantive significance: “the BJP refused to leverage the Vadra papers” despite the fact that these were “in the public domain for more than a year”—and this “is in itself an admission of the party’s reluctance to probe such matters in depth”. Does this not show up not only the BJP but the entire political class today? Corruption has eaten into the vitals of practically all political parties—a frightening spectacle. Communications reaching our office warmly welcome the initiatives taken by Kejriwal and Anna Hazare against this backdrop, something influential sections of the media and those running our polity are not prepared to do. After all, vested interests, notably those linked to the corporate world, are lurking in every nook and corner in the present scenario.

The other recent developments have caused no less concern. The SGPC’s decision in Punjab to honour the killers of a former Army Chief of Staff (who held the post during ‘Operation Bluestar’ at Amritsar’s Golden Temple) has caused legitimate anxiety in the minds of all right-thinking people as such a step is likely to promote Khalistani secessionism-cum-terrorism in the days ahead. And in neighbouring Haryana the pronouncement of an ex-CM advocating child marriage as a remedy for rape, echoing the views of a khap panchayat in the State, has evoked widespread resentment. The colossal irony is that such an utterance has almost coincided with the International Day of the Girl Child (whose observance has exposed that India even now is one of the few countries having the largest number of married girl children in the world)!

Massive allround corruption is thus only one major ailment the country is suffering from. The fostering of and encouragement to secessionist outlook based on terror as well as open support to blatantly retrogressive ideas by our public figures provide a measure of our failure to ensure genuine modernisation of the society. This is where we are able to fully comprehend the fallacy of being obsessed with our figures of economic growth, our claim to fame as an ‘emerging major power’. This obsession is turning out to be a cruel joke in the wake of the monumental odds we are currently forced to encounter as we seek to rid India of the dark forces of religious fanaticism and social obscurantism among the many scourges we need to weed out from our midst.

October 10 S.C.

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