By Vishal K:
With assembly elections in 4 states underway and General election-2014 looming large, the world of Indian politics is seeing unprecedented activity. Rallies, information campaigns, mis-information campaigns, sting operations and high on adrenaline slogans are reinforcing my belief that this is going to the most polar slugfest in the history of Indian democracy. As a commoner, I am experiencing a broad spectrum of emotions seeing the developments every day. One day, the universal chorus against the corrupt forces gives me a new hope. It seems as if the middle class has finally found its voice and is going to make the public figures accountable. Even before I can convince myself, I get despondent seeing the new political participants fight allegations of corruption and people killing each other in the name of religion. The torrid memories of 90’s vicious cycle come rushing back where leaders were leveraging their power to make money and using the same money to come to power again. I start feeling that though we are moving at a fast clip, there is no clear direction and we are going round and round on the same path. Hence, the obvious question that we need to ask ourselves is which India should we trust more? The one wherein thousand gathered on the street of Delhi to protest against the atrocities on a young girl OR the one where hundreds of people died in communal clashes because another young girl dared to love a man not belonging to her religion? Is it the path of salvation we are traveling on OR have we put ourselves on a road to perdition?
Everyone will have their own versions of the current story but the eternal optimist in me makes me believe that we are witnessing a once in a lifetime phenomenon. The world today may be extremely chaotic with scandalous stories breaking out every day but if you observe the chaos closely, patterns would start to emerge. You would see that certain things are not working anymore and new players are forcing their way in to the traditional dynamics. The equilibrium of money and power has been disturbed by this generation and every time you disturb a finely balanced equilibrium, structures would fall and you would see chaos before the dust settles down and a better world beckons. Something similar is happening in the world of Indian politics and bureaucracy. I don’t believe that suddenly, today’s leaders are more dishonest than their predecessors. In fact, nepotism has always been an integral part of power corridors in India. I think what has changed is the attitude of resurgent India towards them.
This is the RTI- empowered generation who are ready to take on the “Sahibs” and “Mantri-Jee”. Huge penetration of digital platforms and social media is making sure that you don’t need to have “right contacts” and “money” to raise voice against the malpractices and gather support. “Trending” and “video gone viral” are the buzzwords which are deciding the agenda of prime time shows on national television. Who would have dreamt a year back that race to be the Delhi CM will be a three way race? A certain Kejriwal with zero political experience and not much money will be able to challenge the highest authorities from both the leading parties? I don’t belong to the cohort which has pinned all its hopes on AAP to bring in a political renaissance in Indian political system but I am absolutely sure that it has definitely set the cat among the pigeons.
Good healthy competition is always good for any system and AAP would keep accountability on behalf of ruling parties as the main focus in coming months. Irrespective of how many seats AAP gets in assembly elections, the political pundits must salute the spirit of those thousands of volunteers who have left their flourishing careers to present an alternative to people of Delhi. India’s political system is a classic example of Newton’s Third Law with one caveat that there is an opposite and unequal (manifold) reaction to every external attempt to break in to the political system. Having said it that, I think it is wonderful time to be in Indian policy space wherein new leaders with cleanest of credentials will not only rise and shine but will also create a system that will inspire the 700 million young Indians to shed their inhibitions and engage with the state in a more organized way.
Leaders like Jay Panda, Dr Ajoy Kumar, JP Narayan and Yogendra Yadav may have their difference of opinions on governance and policy issues but their larger goal will always be to build a better and stronger India. You may or may not agree with them on certain issues but you can never deny the fact that they have the potential to raise the level of public debate in this country. Professor Larry Diamond of Stanford University, while teaching Democratic Development, had once told me that in democracy, decisions are made by those who show up. Today, I do believe that more and more people are “showing up” not only at Ram Leela maidan and freedom park but also at polling booths in Mizoram and naxalite affected areas of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. May be, it is the time for new Indian heroes to rise and shine!!!