By Prateek Sibal:
Politicians often spar over everything, ideology or no ideology; the issue should help them win votes. So it is not surprising to see that when distressed farmers in the country are driven to a point of suicide, politicians within government and without are doing what they do best – trade charges and grab headlines.
Today, India is at an important crossroad where we can either continue to make sanctimonious noise and let our democracy slide into decay, or seize the hour and embark upon building national institutions with renewed vigour. Without doubt, if there is one person who is a spring well of this vigour, it is Prime Minister Modi. He has vision, boldness, and an appetite to take tough decisions for the nation’s. Here is a list of four decisions that will engrave his name in stone, and complete his transformation from a politician to a statesman.
1. Free Education Of Political Influence:
Given the twists and turns in the education policy that we see today, from Delhi University going back and forth on Four Year Undergraduate Program to mid-session cessation of German language teaching in government schools, or even worse, the frequent change in curriculum based on the ideology of the political party in power, education has become a game of ping-pong. Such an approach is jeopardizing the country’s future progress by giving its youth second rate education. Adding to the woes is the Annual State of Education Report (ASER), that highlights how 50% of grade five students cannot read grade two texts, apart from having difficulties in doing basic math. In this scenario, it would be reflective of the Prime Minister’s leadership prowess if he quells the political sabotage of the education system by and gives a freehold to academics with experience and long term vision to guide the country’s education policy towards stability and effectiveness.
2. Give Anti Corruption Laws Teeth That Bite:
Crony Capitalism has become so deeply entrenched in the country that every few months we see a new scam falling out of the closet. Some are investigated and brought to conclusion, but most are easily forgotten as soon as the media highlight fades away. More often than not, these scams are used to settle political scores. The political class’ lackadaisical attitude towards corruption is evident from Minister of State for Personnel, Dr Jitendra Singh, saying in the Rajya Sabha that no time frame can be given for the implementation of the Lokpal Act even after 365 days of it being signed by the President. Given this situation, there is no chance that India will become free of corruption anytime soon. The government must not only implement the law at the earliest but also strengthen the institution of Lokpal further by bringing in investigative agencies like the CBI under its purview, so that the corrupt can be investigated and prosecuted without political interference.
3. Restore Freedom Of Speech And Artistic Liberties:
A true leader thrives in an atmosphere of dissent, where civil liberties are expanded instead of being curtailed. With bizarre pronouncements by film censor board on appropriateness of films and banning of books that do not conform to the majority view, we are only replacing a vibrant, free spirited Indian culture of debate with one that is regressive and intolerant. This is an area where we actually need minimum governance, the state must withdraw from passing value judgments on what the society can watch, say or read. Instead of controlling the content, the government should try to expand the reach of the medium.
4. Focus Not Only On The Ease Of Doing Business But Also On The Ease Of Living:
Anyone who has lived in India will know as to how difficult it is for an ordinary citizen to deal with the byzantine Indian bureaucracy. From election offices, to transport authorities to navigating through never ending court cases an average citizen spends much of her time, energy and money in trying to avail what is rightfully hers. This ease of living is not only about setting few forms and application procedures right but as much about changing the attitude of government officers from being dilatory to facilitating. The move towards e-governance, linking of Aadhar cards with bank accounts is welcome, but the government should also sensitize authorities to respond to the needs of poor who queue at its offices, with urgency. Every hour wasted waiting in government offices often means a wage loss for the already impecunious.