The basic tenet of governance is based on a ‘social contract’. The concept that the citizenry is in a contract, a mutually beneficial arrangement with the government. The contract to gain civil rights in return for accepting the obligation to respect and defend the rights of others, giving up freedoms to do so. Somewhere along the way, the current Indian government seems to have taken it for granted – taking away way more and giving back much less, if at all! The general trend usually is to resort to government-bashing or rather Modi-bashing, but that too not openly. This is because if one does that, then that person will be considered anti-nationalist. Which in a way means that if you dare criticize the Hon’ble Indian PM Narendra Modi, irrespective of how constructive that might be – you run the risk of being branded as ‘anti-Indian’ and/or ‘anti-nationalist’!
On the contrary, staunch Prime Minister/Bhartiya Janata Party supporters must realise that what it actually does is encourage debates and deliberations and promotes diversity of thoughts in a culturally, geographically, economically and socially diverse country like India. This should not be curbed but rather encouraged. There cannot and should not be only one systemic voice that is heard. However, the current political climate bends towards more of a monologuist regime where one person takes the stage and all the limelight, throws myriad of self-promoting animated slogans/gestures usually comprising of hyper-factlessness, blanketed or rather marketed as ‘coming from the heart’ (read: Mann Ki Baat).
The critical and development-impacting issues such as poverty, poor health indicators, poor education levels and/or generally every other socio-economic indicator; unemployment among youth; lack of jobs; lack of social security nets for poor, disabled (both physically and mentally challenged), retired and the aged population; women safety and protection (ranging from rape, sexual harassment and assault at public places, in public transport, at home and/or workplace); agrarian slump and farmer distress; and the list goes on and on… actually never see the light of day.
Unfortunately for India’s future, the above and many other socially relevant issues are rarely ever the focal point of any concrete debate in media or among the citizens. Policy deliberations and political discourse are never based on these critical blockers of development, but rather caste/religion/gender-based politics. The politics of hatred and division is what has become the norm nowadays. Things need to change so that ‘participatory democracy’ doesn’t merely remain a theoretical phenomenon but actually is put into good practice by all sections of the Indian society in equal measure without any prejudice. What is disheartening is that there is hardly any practical use of it in today’s India!
Having said that, I will take the plunge to make some constructive criticisms. I believe that criticising the government is of the essence, not only because the current Indian government is actually just about pomp and show where policy making and governance has gone to the dogs, but because of the fact that current politics that is being played at both the central and state level has been reduced to a marketing gimmick that targets the naive and serves only a certain segment of voters (a.k.a the ‘saffron class’). But is it only the government’s fault? Are the Indian citizens asking the right questions? Most importantly, are the Indian citizens questioning the (wrong) answers? We certainly cannot put the entire blame on the government only. Equal onus is on the citizens and most importantly the corporatised, biased and Modi-fearing Indian media. If we all actually want India to progress, the only way is to ASK – ask the right questions!
Lastly, neither Congress-free India will ever solve the crisis nor will a saffronised India ensure that we are free of the ills of our society. India, as a country does not need to be saved from Congress or BJP or Modi per se, but its citizens’ and media’s lack of questioning! We, as Indians, need to question whether we are okay with a woman feeling unsafe at dusk in the capital city. Whether we are okay to allow half of the child population and women to suffer from anaemia and succumb to malnutrition. Whether we are okay to let our farmers commit suicide due to drought, lack of livelihood and incentives. Whether we are okay by not having enough schools; providing adequate teachers; and thus good education to India’s children. Whether we are okay for our students to succumb to mental stress, depression and anxiety. Whether we are okay to not have enough doctors and hospitals to look after the poor and vulnerable populations? Whether we are okay to stay mum on Dalit atrocities across the country? Whether we are okay with the lynching of our Muslim brothers in the name of ‘food policing’. Whether we are okay to let the century-old Jallianwala Bagh-styled massacre be revisited in Tamil Nadu recently. Whether we are okay to continue like this. Do we dare to ask the right questions?
As a party to the social contract between me as a citizen of India and the Indian Government, I hereby would like to question the ‘social contract’ I had signed up for! I hereby ask when will things start to improve before worsening further? I guess my search for the ‘right’ answers will continue… Until all my questions are answered!