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An open letter to the Prime Minister of India

[I had a blog Aagan Says previously. But in a moment of emotional foolery i deleted the blog without taking backup, and posts between May-August were lost. I am going to REPOST those again. Today i post an article i had written in July two days ahead of the scheduled “cabinet reshuffle”].

Respected Sir/Madam

I add both sir/madam in my salutation since I am confused whom to address – the octogenarian at 7 Racecourse Road or the inhabitant of 10 Janpath Road. However, I find it convenient to refer to both, since any matter of importance that is being raised before one, will inevitably be placed before the other.

Sir, I had been to a rally where you had addressed the public. Yes sir, you had spoken. It must be a tedious task for you since you prefer the anonymity of the PMO, yes sir, we know, Mr P Chidambaram had told us that it is your personality trait. But sir, I must tell you, you make a very good speaker and whenever you address the media, do it with a conviction that restores the wavering trust in the institution you represent. And I fathom reaching out to the people will embolden their confidence in the office you hold.

Ah, we can save that for the later, for now I have some important matters to press upon, sir, with your due permission. The major problem facing India currently is the governance deficit that is not just palpable but hitting us hard on the face. On several issues, the authority that you command seems to be losing steam sir. Do you not deem it fit to not just be in command but also assert your presence at the helm? (Well I am sorry if I in any way offend Madam, because we all know she calls the shots and this plea of assertion might not go down well with her, but isn’t that how our democracy should function?)

Secondly sir, the cabinet that you head is increasingly becoming a safe haven for thugs. We all agree you are a noble man and no one doubts your integrity sir, but don’t you think your credibility is being dented every other day when some minister is embroiled in some controversy? It is also no secret that for several months, many key ministries have been lying orphan waiting for a full time minister-in-charge. The cabinet “reshuffle” that is the talk of the town now, has been long pending since time immemorial. But you (or for that matter Madam) had not been able to make any choicest changes to the pack of jokers (strictly in terms of cards sir) yet!

I know you are not inept, but the void created by your inaction on several fronts have been misused by many, Sir. Take Digvijay Singh for example. Your silence can only be balanced by the volumes of absurdity he speaks on air every waking moment (or maybe he even sleep-talks). Some newspapers even claim he has prime ministerial ambitions! You must beware of such men sir! Especially so because they are close to the heir apparent (no offense madam, but being the Prime Minister, he must be responsible for the credibility of the government, No?)

The south Delhi civil societies are no better, sir. They have simply hijacked the space vacated by you and have become self confessed messiahs of the country. And guess what, the media (not the paid one) has sold itself out to them, and are planning to take over governance in India (through the proposition of Lokpal of course). I still wonder why your ministers even bothered to pay them any heed. But I welcome your stand on the inclusion of the PM in the ambit of Lokpal. But don’t you feel sir, it would dilute the institution (although, under you, or rather Madam, I daresay, there isn’t much left of the institution).

Courtesy Toonpool

It seems the contents of the letter could be bugging you (oh I mean not the bugs that were lately found in the Finance Ministry, sir). And I have almost reached the end, sir.

I wish to bring to your notice, sir, that India is a rich country with really poor citizens. And you are their leader – the face of the nation. It is your choice whether you want to poorly represent the rich or enrich the poverty stricken nation.

Thank you,

Agnivo

(Just another citizen of this nation)

Bharat Nirman

India.A nation with a history spanning civilizations. Witness to myriad cultures,diverse life forms,part of a vast geography.A nation that started its journey as distinct entity 63 years ago. However, there truly seems a crisis looming large in horizon. The country’s future seems uncertain. A growing sense of impatience and intolerance is wrecking the nation from within (the enemies from outside the borders are just the tip of the ice berg). The present mode of governance (or the lack of it) prompted me to think, does India lack leaders? Have we, Indians, become so self centered that service to the nation has taken a back seat? Where do we see India in future? And what is our role to make that dream a reality? What about the political class? Is democracy safe in India? There is no end to these volley of questions. I tried to extract a few answers from the people i know, and wish to share my findings with you all.

Service of the people, that is the motto of our political class. Politics is a vocation, not a profession. Providing good governance is the duty of the people at the helm of power, and that power is vested into them by our constitution. Elections decide which person will be entrusted with the work of catering to the needs of the masses. Thus elections play an important role in democracy.

A government is accountable only to the people. The people decide who stays in power. Only 48% of the adult respondents to the survey done by the writer of this blog said that they had voted in past elections. While 6% were minors, and 6% just turned 18, rest of the 40% of the urban, educated youth did not consider it necessary to take part in deciding the fate of the nation. Even more alarming was the finding that most of them (51%) do not wish to vote in forthcoming elections. As many as 32% of the people did not even know the name of their ward Councillor. Sigh, in their bid to show how concerned they are for the nation, they forgot that charity begins at home, and good governance can be delivered only through decentralization of power.

Indian politicians have failed the people, that is beyond doubt. But we as a nation must never forget our duty as citizen. Remember, you get a right to protest when you are a part of the syste,. Being cynical about the state of affairs and passing judgments on government’s failures is easy. But my friend, by refusing to vote, you have done a disservice to the nation too. And that like corruption is unpardonable.

Many readers would jump out of their seats and say that they do not have any choice, the present set of politicians do not kindle any interest in them. That brings me to the second question. Who do we see as a leader in the future? What qualities set him/her apart from others? Well, if you ask me the question now, i will not be able to take any particular name but share my idea of a perfect leader. Like an assembled computer, (s)he would be a mixture of qualities from different leaders.

My readers unanimously voted in favour of Rahul Gandhi as a leader in the future. His dynamism, persona and sincerity towards the issue he concentrates impressed 34% of my respondents. His mother Sonia Gandhi continues to inspire 12% of the Indians while Narendra Modi seems to be the choice of leader for 4% of them. Leaders like Manmohan Singh and A P J Abdul Kalam still earn people’s respects for their integrity.

Do the results show a supposed bias towards a particular party? Is it possible the sample size was not random at all? I doubted the results myself! For one, i have lost my fondness for the Gandhi scion after his inaction over a lot of issues that required immediate attention from someone who is slated to be India’s next PM. My doubts were put to rest when i found that most people (65%) who responded also said it is not the party but the deliverance of promises that makes people vote for a candidate in an election. Only a minority (8%) support the party.

Now after elections are done with and the government is formed, what do we expect them to do? What are the most pressing issues challenging us? The lack of infrastructure for education, poverty eradication, less focus on the social sector and Corruption emerged as the frontrunners in the race. Terrorism and naxal menace found place too but the voices were not loud enough to be heard.

If we need to strengthen our democracy we need to rein in our politicians who have turned the system to their advantage. To that effect i asked my readers whether the American Presidential system of governance could bring the much needed breath of fresh air. While most (88%) respondents felt the idea needed serious consideration and debate, 3% voted in favaour of the proposal and 3% against it. The writing on the wall is clear. People want change and are ready to experiment with new ideas.

The last part of the survey concentrated on the fourth pillar of democracy : people’s participation in governance. The media acts as a bridge between the people and government. Tracking the latest happenings and opinionate  can improve people’s understanding of the functioning of our system as well as prepare us for a future tryst in the corridors of power. However it was really sad to discover that 58% of the people find  the sports page in the newspapers worth spending time on. Well, in today’s age of breaking news it does not come as a surprise. What does is the fact that 67% of the people never took up the pen to write to the editor of any newspaper. That reflects a sense of indifference in our psyche. Entertainment, sports, gossip is what we want, and in the ever expanding competitive market, the media is serving us what we deserve. Next time India TV comes up with an atrocious breaking news, can we complain?

To build a better India we need to be involved in her service. We can sit in the comfort of our rooms and crib about what is wrong around us, nothing will change. We do not want to change. When asked “Do you wish to enter politics”, 81% of the respondents said NO. No one wishes to clean the house, they want a house maid to handle the muck. Hope the 19% who said yes can really change the conditions we live in and engage in true “Bharat Nirman”.

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