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Every Indian would like a clean society. For a lot of Indians, corruption doesnt determine their voting behaviour. Removing corruption is important to them.
However, it is not as important as, say, a ones identity; b their safety; and c obtaining some instant gratification from politicians during voting time. Clever politicians understand this. They work to deliver on these priorities and, in return, are allowed to be corrupt by the voters. This often occurs amongst the section of voters that has historically been oppressed or sees itself as a subjugated minority. Of course, this is an oversimplified generalization.
The situation is changing. For there are Muslim voters or lower-caste voters or low-income voters who want corruption removed more than anything else. However, a lot of Muslims also vote to feel safe hence they may avoid voting for the BJP. Many low-income voters would rather have bird-in-hand freebies at election time as later on the politician will forget them a completely rational view. Similarly, many lower-caste voters may feel happy to see their communitys candidate in power, as it makes life seem a little fairer after generations of oppression.
With such conflicting agendas, the issue of corruption gets clouded. Voting patterns do show corruption as a variable hence ministers step down. However, it is not the top influencer yet. Thus, a corrupt party can enjoy power as long as it keeps the oppressed classes happy and can play Robin Hood to them.
Every party knows this; thus, every party is corrupt, though to varying degrees. In some ways, the stickiness of corruption is the revenge of the oppressed. It is we, the educated, usually upper-class, upper-caste Hindus, who are empowered enough to have higher-order needs of an honest and fair society. The oppressed wont let us have it just yet. They do want to remove corruption, but they also want certain injustices fixed and other scores settled.
For this, they send agents to power who might loot the nation, but protect them and even share the booty through the occasional handout.
It isnt fair to todays youth, who want a corruption-free India to maximize opportunities above anything else. However, there were centuries of unfairness that the oppressed had to bear too. Will it ever change? It has to change because plunder and redistribution is a highly inefficient model for societal fairness.
We are a poor country. There isnt much to plunder anyway. The solution lies in setting aside differences for a while. The uppercaste, upper-class Hindus have to let go of their bigotry and prejudice.
The oppressed have to let go of their justified but expensive urge for revenge and retribution. All over the world, the oppressed have only risen through self-empowermentlook at the Jews and the Parsis.
Oppressed community voters are realizing that many of their current representatives have harmed the nation, filled their own pockets and done little for them. We are not a nation of stupid voters.
We are simply a nation where people want different things, and thats okay. However, removing corruption will require it to be made the number one priority for all Indians.
It is a secular issue, and removing it will be beneficial to all.
When the roof of the house is leaky, you need to fix the roof first rather than fight family feuds. We do become one during cricket matches, and we did win the World Cup in If we can become one on this issue of fighting corruption, we will be able to win against it as well.
Game for it? Its time to stop blaming just our politicians for corruption and look within. Their first standard excuse is nothing malafide is proven yet. The second classic excuse is look at what other parties have done. Therefore, a murderer can be spared, as long as he can find another murderer.
It is important to understand why all political parties back their corrupt members, despite massive allegations and enough circumstantial evidence against such people. The answer lies in the way Indians think.
While it is easy to blame politicians, the fact remains that our politicians are not ethical because we arent ethical. A large number of politicians have lost track of the idea that every profession in this world has ethicsit may not be illegal to break them but still is definitely wrong. A doctor must treat his patient as soon as possible, it is assumed, under ethical medical practice. But if he delays treatment, it would be hard to prove it illegal.
A teacher must try to teach her students well, though if she doesnt, it wont be illegal. Society needs ethics as much as laws to function well.
The simple, bitter truth is that the electorate just doesnt care much about financial impropriety. Sure, we bicker, moan and fuss about politicians looting us. However, it is not that high up in the hierarchy of wrongs a politician could commit. A moderate amount of corruption is almost expected and accepted. It is only when graft is done in an obvious large-scale and arrogant manner that Indians get somewhat upsetand that too for a short period of time. Do it, but dont be so blatant and rub it in our faces, is what we seem to be telling them.
Tax evasion, dubious accounting and shady friendships are almost seen as natural behaviour for an Indian businessman. We dont see them as crimes. We treat them on a par with, say, eating four plates of desserta bit greedy, but understandable. Until we, as a society, really feel that graft, unethical behaviour and nepotism are huge problems, and start to truly care about all of them, politicians will not change. Take, for instance, a hypothetical situation.
Say, a prominent politician went into a temple with his shoes on, with a bottle of alcohol and kicked the idols. What would happen? Of course, there would be huge societal outrage.
In our value system, we hold our religious shrines extremely dear. Such a person would never be allowed to remain party president. In all probability, the persons political career would end overnight. But this value system does not apply when we see shady businesses being conducted, state coffers being looted or politicians placing self-interest above national interest.
Even abuse of power is something we only talk about in public. Deep down, we are complicit. We may want political leaders to not abuse power, but do so ourselves. Just take one example, the status of domestic help in India. How do Indians treat their domestic help? Why dont we ever talk about a minimum wage for them? Or perhaps a compulsory day off every week? When we ourselves have no qualms abusing our power, it is difficult to attack others for doing so.
We, the Indian society, need to reflect on who we have become.
Organizations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh RSS , which claim to care for Indias glory, should be fixing this by propagating good values in society. And parties which claim removal of corruption as their topmost agenda, like the Aam Aadmi Party AAP , should also send out the message that it is a lack of values within us, and not just a few bad guys at the top, that has turned India corrupt.
More than anything, we ourselves must change, and see the sense in doing so. A society without values cannot survive or function, let alone progress. When this realization dawns on a larger section of society, politicians will change. Right now, they dont, because they think you, the voter, doesnt care.
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That you will see Gadkaris punishment as a slight to the RSS, or to the community or caste he belongs to. Similarly, no Congressman will stand up for what is right in Vadras case, as the Congress voter cares for the Gandhi family more than for right or wrong.
We live in shameless times. When long-overdue self-reflection and shame strike us, India will be ready for change. We have seen many exposs on corrupt leaders in the past few years; it is time we did an expos on ourselves. The Kings in Our Minds Kings and colonizers left our country nearly seven decades ago. It is time they left our minds. This vital suburban highway connects various important points of the city, including the airport.
I, like several others on the road, had a flight to catch. On a normal day, it would have taken ten minutes to the terminal. However, that day, the traffic had not moved for over half an hour. The jam wasnt due to road construction or a vehicle mishap.
Instead, a few cops had intentionally stopped the traffic. VIP movement, is all a cop told me when I asked. Some of us begged the cops to let us pass, lest we miss our flight. The cops shooed us away. The stranded crowd smirked at us, as if saying how stupid of us to even try. I saw the faces of people waiting on their bikes, in cars, buses and autorickshaws. The long jam meant literally thousands of people waiting to move behind us.
People were late for work, business meetings, doctors appointments, social visits and college. Yet, while everyone was uncomfortable, nobody seemed agitated either. After all, this was a part of Indian life. A neta passes, the world around has to stop.
I made frantic calls to the airline staff and managed to get a boarding pass printed. When traffic finally cleared, I was lucky to make it to the flight. The airline, aware of the jam, had delayed the plane somewhat. It would now delay other flights elsewhere in India.
Despite this, many passengers couldnt make it. These people spent considerable time, effort and money to rebook themselves to their destinations.
I had a speaking engagement in my destination city. If I had missed this flight, the function would have had to be cancelled. Meanwhile, I assume the neta arrived in Mumbai, had people salute him, lift his bags and shut his car doors. He would have zipped off on the highway, on his way to cut a ribbon somewhere or for a meeting; probably important but not terribly urgent either. If the road had not been cleared for him, he would have still reached his destination, perhaps ten minutes later and with a more realistic picture of the roads and traffic in Mumbai.
However, to ensure his comfort, thousands waited for an hour, airlines upset schedules and at least one event planner in the country had a panic attack. Who was this VIP? He was a member of Parliament, a minister.
He was neither the king of India nor the colonial ruler of our country. We dont have those anymore. The person was an elected representative, someone people had chosen to do a job. Sure, to handle a ministry of a large country is not a small job. He does deserve respect for it.
However, does respect mean subservience? If someone has a powerful job, does that mean we accept any form of power abuse from him or her? Do we think it is okay for a busy city to stop just because some elected leader needs a smooth ride to his or her meeting? If we do, arent we at some level accepting, and even becoming accomplices in, the subjugation?
Of course, some would argue: what other option do we have? Creating a ruckus on the jammed road would only create more havoc. A public protest could turn into a moblike situation, which isnt the solution either. The answer to power abuse is not anarchy. So what do we do? Before we answer that, we need to see why our elected representatives continue to think of themselves as little monarchs. Our political class inherited a British colonial system, which had zero accountability to the colonized.
Quite cleverly, they didnt change laws to bring in accountability, the cornerstone of any democracy. Till date, our netas try to rule us like colonial rulers and hate any proposals that reduce their powers or demand accountability.
No wonder the Jan Lokpal Bill hasnt yet been passed! While such legal and policy battles continue, a large part of the problem is also the Indian mindset. We do see them as our kings. We do think that they are in power means they can do anything.
We do not realize that being in power means being in power only to do things in the national interest.
If Indians change this mindset, changes to laws and policies will follow. Specifically, if a majority of us see and expect netas to be service providers instead of rulers, it will trigger a huge behavioural change in the political class.
How do you change mindsets across the country? Well, start with yourself, and then try to change as many others as possible.
If you suffer, talk about it. Text friends, talk about it on social networks and to your colleagues. Tell everyone if you witness abuse of power, especially when your service provider neta acts like an entitled prince.
Sure, they drive your nation, but just as a hired driver drives a bus. The driver cannot start believing he owns the bus. The driver should also know that if he doesnt drive well, he will be removed. So let us work on changing this mindset if we want a better India. Kings and colonizers left our country nearly seven decades ago. The Telangana Effect The answer to Indias problems is not a new state.
It may be, rather, a new state of mind. We always feel that a messiah or a great grand scheme will soon come and deliver us from our woes. It is a narrative reinforced by Bollywood, where somehow a hero works things out in the end. Our mythology, too, talks about good forces God with amazing powers coming and killing the evil ones demons.
It is perhaps due to this gullibility that many of us feel that the sure-shot solution to the miserable common mans life in India is a new state. Yes, stateitis is the new virus in town, affecting everyone from the south to the east to the north.
So, what is the latest solution for the common mans suffering? A new state. Not good leaders, not even new leaders, not new criteria for votingsuch as governance over castenot an end to identity prejudice. We will change none of this. We will simply solve all our employment, inflation, power, water, safety, health and education problems with one magic solutiona new state. If the consequences of such nave thinking werent serious, it would be another cute, hilarious trait of Indians.
However, what we started with Telangana is something so harmful, vile and terrible, we will all regret it in times to come if we dont check it now. And that terrible thing is this: making states at gunpoint. No, making new states is not a problem. In the right circumstances, it may well help.
What creates problems are coercive demands for a state, where sections of the population threaten violence or strikes and try to gouge out a state for themselves.
However, if we want to stem such movements, it wont be through forcibly shutting them down. It is important to understand where such demands originate, and if something can be done to address the underlying issues without constantly redrawing the map of the country.
So, why the almost sudden desire for so many new states? Well, the demand seems to be coming from the more economically backward pockets of the country.
The simple reason is this: people are sick of poor governance and dont know where to look for answers or place the blame.
A new state, even if a flawed idea, seems like something new to try. Also, Indians are prejudiced, aiding such thought. We also feel a leader from our own kind will have more empathy towards us. Hence, a new state seems like a reasonable solution.
Of course, this is highly flawed thinking.
For our prejudice itself is often the reason behind our woes. If we were not prejudiced, we would not have voted on the basis of identity. We would have chosen instead a leader based on ability. We didnt, which in turn led to the governance mess we find ourselves in today. This bitter truth, of course, doesnt cut much ice with us Indians. We never download stories involving us taking responsibility. We never blame ourselves.
Not us. Unfortunately, caught amidst our desperate life situations and prejudiced minds, we forget the damage pseudo-fixes like new states may cause. For, no matter what your local leader may tell you about the utopia that will come after making a new state, there are many drawbacks.
Here are four. First, small states have little clout at the centre. Lets face it, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh carries more clout than his counterpart in Tripura. Size matters in politics. Two, it creates separatist, almost anti-national sentiments that are harmful for the country.
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Did it help Mr Bachchan? Shut up regressive Hindutva fanatics.
Convenient Action - Continuity for Change
He was a member of Parliament, a minister. You have not transformed India yet. Take, for instance, a hypothetical situation. Yes, stateitis is the new virus in town, affecting everyone from the south to the east to the north. Neither has any politician been accused, blacklisted, vilified and treated like a pariah as much.