I remember how much emphasis we gave to the India Shining campaign a couple of years back. Though I never had a deep faith and belief in it. For me it was like a political manifesto to create a feel good factor for wearied Indians to look good and feel happy. And this political manifesto passed on from one government to another. It was never a story of my India.
On the contrary from the place I look I saw rising living index and depreciating living conditions. I saw never before like standards of misgovernance, scams, political stratagems and corruption. I saw the apex bodies in the Indian judicial system marred with allegations of amassing wealth out of perennial bribes. I saw the sensex rising to new found heights on one hand and at the same time farmers in Andhra and even Punjab committing suicide. I saw the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. For me the campaign was smeared with flavours of false hope, promises and projections of a hypothetical India that never existed.
The real India tells us a different story. It shocks me to find out how an entire state government and even the central government lay puppet when the Khap panchayats in Haryana and UP resort to honour killings. No act can be more coward and barbaric than stoning to death a woman who had chosen her own man in her life. The governments choose to stay mute as they are afraid to revoke the caste sentiments of the Khaps and in turn loose their vote banks. I often used to hear that ‘Neutrality in times of crisis is the gravest act of cowardice’. What better example can our governments set than this?
Coming to speak of corruption and malpractices in governance it would baffle anyone to know the amount of money stacked in foreign banks in various undercover accounts of our politicians, bureaucrats, high profile government officials and corporations. The statistics around that money sends a chill down my swine and leaves me in disbelief. A combined loss of over 2, 00,000 crore INR to the exchequer since independence! And each day a new scam is unearthed. And each day India moves over the previous one. It is as if we had stopped to care and accepted this as our standards of existence. Gosh! Indian politicians can spin out money from practically anything be it organizing international sports competition, in auctioning spectrum, in fudging economic indicators on Dalal street, to even in creating habitat societies for our war widows. A new scam is unearthed almost every week and interestingly most of these scams are picked up by the media rather than any of our proud investigating agencies or people who are responsible to monitor our financial activities.
India shining for me is definitely not the rich prospering and more Indians getting added to the Forbes list of billionaires. It is about self sustenance for our villages, equality to our women, social security, employment and empowerment to masses, health and education to every citizen, involving distinguished citizens and civil societies in parallel governance to check corruption and malpractices, strengthening our judiciary and stricter guidelines to implement the word of law and cleansing our legislative of ineffective leaders.
For me the present age is one of an awakening where Indian citizens are at least involving themselves more like never before in the state of affairs. The youth of the country have been prompt in supporting people movements in support of killers of Jessica Lal and getting the accused punished, they have stood by Ruchika Girhotra’s friend Aradhana to get the DGP of Chandigarh SPS Rathore to trial and sentence in case of molestation. And of very late the country has vehemently supported and stood by a septuagenarian Anna Hazare who had sat on a fast until death top fight against the prevailing system of graft in governance. Never before since independence has India rallied in silent protest and support towards principles of Gandhiji. From the place I see I can see an India ready for a civil movement against the evil of the society if needed be.
This is a moment of realization for the citizens of this country. This is an hour of awakening. The problems that India faces today aren’t limited to one individual or section of a society. It is universally affecting each and every citizen who have had enough now. This is a moment of reckoning. After all I am truly optimistic that we together as people of a great nation can steer our nation out of its current perils by acts of solidarity and unity. Nothing would be impossible when the billion plus force of the country have a common objective.
India needs a total overhaul of the anti-corruption delivery system. I believe that the country immediately needs a statutory, effective and independent investigating and prosecuting multidisciplinary agency led by independent professionals searched, and not merely appointed and barred for some years from re-employment, to ward off political vagaries.
Hong Kong was in a similar situation of rampant corruption in 1970s. People took to streets. The island was forced to set up an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) with functional autonomy, headed by men and women of merit, drawn from many disciplines. And it cleaned up the system. To begin with, they dismissed scores of top level cops. Today, Hong Kong is one of the most honest countries.
Hoping my awakened India make it to that level of honesty and integrity. India awakening to its malaises is India shining in its truest form.