Our Governance has reached such a pass that honest officers in the system are useless, and corrupt, pliable are welcome.
Mr.Pratap Bhanu Mehta, newspaper columnist and public intellectual while resigning as faculty, wrote to the Vice Chancellor of Ashoka University that his public writing in support of a politics that tries to honour constitutional values of freedom and equal respect for all citizens is perceived to carry risks for the university. Former Chief Economic Advisor to the government of India, and an economist of repute, also tendered his resignation as professor in economics to Ashoka University citing the circumstances involving the resignation of Professor Pratap Bhanu Mehta which devastated him. One may say that these two prominent public figures exiting from a Private university is not unusual but this episode should be seen in the larger context of the rapid shrinking of public space all around us. This has not happened overnight, but over a period of several decades, with the emergence of a political class, bereft of any ethics or morality.
For several years, the political class ruling the country and states became increasingly intolerant of people with honesty, courage and guts to call a spade a spade, that these qualities became a kind of liability and they ensured that these kind of persons are kept away from every influential position. The practice of packing the top echelons of government and other important institutions with spineless, compromised and corrupt persons has gone on unabated for too long and now the country is facing the outcome of these misendeavors. I was part of this governance structure for nearly four decades and I saw the systematic dismantling of the ethical edifice of governance by the corrupt political class, ably aided and abetted by the largely corrupt bureaucracy who were propped up by the same unethical, self- serving and corrupt politicians. During all these years, where ever I served, the underlying governance theme remained the same, if you are corrupt and pliable you are welcome and the principled ones were always shown the door, branded as ‘useless’, ‘difficult’, ‘anti progress’ and ‘worth nothing’. The deleterious effect of this rotten politics is now writ large every where. Now everyone is complaining, helpless, lost and stuck in the morass.
Over the years, with rising aspirations of the major sections of our population, we needed to expand our political landscape in an inclusive way, without divisions and dissension. A divided polity is unhealthy for any nation, in the long run. Every country has to make this choice and only those nations survive, thrive and march ahead whose leadership shows the vision and maturity to take everyone along irrespective of their caste, religion , colour, ethnicity.
In India, during the past several decades, we have been witnessing an incrementally increasing influence of money and muscle power over our political system, where winning by hook or crook, is the rule of the game of Bahubalis. All saner advice to improve the situation over these decades, have fallen on deaf ears. Our political system is degenerating everyday and is getting disproportionately dependent on falsehoods, illicit money, and creating dissensions. Integrity, tolerance, pluralism and virtues are totally excluded from our political landscape.
Democracy is all about agreeing to disagree and unless we inculcate this virtue we are bound to suffer as a society and nation. The time is ripe to cleanse the political system mired in money power, muscle power and an all pervasive divisive and corruption ridden nefarious mindset. Or Indian democracy stands condemned and dangerous as Albert Einestein had prophesied, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” Let us Act now.
Bertolt Brecht, the famous German play writer, thinker and philosopher wrote “ the worst illiterate is the political illiterate. He hears nothing, takes no part in political life. He doen’t seem to know that the cost of living , the price of beans, of flour , of rent , of medicine all depend on political decisions. He prides himself on his political ignorance, sticks out his chest and says he hates politics. He doesn’t know, the imbecile, that that from his political non-participation comes the prostitute, the abandoned child, the robber and worst of all corrupt officials, the lackeys of exploitative multinational corporations.
We must no longer be politically illiterate. Our inaction and non participation has transformed Politics from being’’ the last resort for the scoundrels” to “politics has become the first resort of scoundrels” as more than 2500 MPs and MLAs out of a total of 4896 lawmakers in parliament and assemblies are facing criminal charges. This was made possible because righteous men chose voluntarily to abandon the political arena, consequently the scoundrels were the ones who scrambled to fill the void.
Henry David Thoreau, the famous American thinker and philosopher, while talking about governments said ,“why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels? We must change this .The time has come to shed apathy towards politics. Those who worry for their country should not limit themselves to being commentators on events but must also fearlessly play a transformative part in shaping them.
(Vijay Shankar Pandey is former Secretary to Government of India)