By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal
A few days ago a top bureaucrat in government claimed and rued that we are too much of a democracy to have any reforms. Though he, later on, tried to clarify his stance, his statement actually reflects the mentality of the Indian political and bureaucratic establishment. Our decision-makers and their advisors are thoroughly out of touch with the ground reality otherwise we won’t have farmers protesting in the national capital over the farming laws that have been steam-rolled through the parliament without any discussion.
It’s not as much as the farm laws but the actions of the government that has sowed so much distrust among the farmers that they are willing to brave the pandemic and bone freezing cold of New Delhi to have these new laws repealed. No amount of assurance, tweets, interviews, and theatrics by PM and his ministers are enough to assuage the protesters who have occupied the roads leading to and from the national capital. Many farmers have lost their lives from the bitter cold in the protest but there isn’t seems to be an end to the logjam. After decisions such as Note-Ban and lockdown that literally wiped out the economy, the trust in the government’s ability and intentions is running low. Unlike countries like Russia, China, and the US that have large homogeneity in demographic aspects of populace India is a diverse country with people of different races, ethnicities and religions cohabiting for centuries, in such a varied land we cannot have one rule of thumb applicable to all and that is where the government is mistaking an absolute mandate for absolute power.
Many accept that corporate influence has grown too much in Modi’s tenure. The policies that are being designed have a bent towards fulfilling quarterly targets rather than democratic objectives. Take the case of the new parliament aka central vista project, that project will cost over 900 crores to the taxpayer and we will get a brand new, state of the art parliament building but then what are we going to achieve from it if laws are made without due process. Don’t we have any better needs with this money for improving the health infrastructure of this country or improving the economic well being of this country that has been lost in the lockdown but here we are building a new parliament that in all practical purposes not needed right now, no wonder Supreme court had some reality check for the government but then again one wonder if the government has the wisdom to see what the Supreme Court and others foresee.
Even with all the media and advertising power in its grasp the government is still beating around the bush rather than engaging with protesting farmers. Government, it seems, just wants to hear praise and good things about its work. I wonder if it has reached a point where the proverb “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely”, is slowly becoming a reality.