Two incidents of utmost importance have happened in the political discourse of the country in the past couple of weeks. First, social media was abuzz with the news of the CM of Haryana frantically reaching out to officials to clean government schools and make them look presentable. Why? Because the CM of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal was visiting some of the schools. Second, elections for the state assembly of Madhya Pradesh is just a fortnight away and the Congress party leaders are squabbling loudly to decide on their candidates when the incumbent BJP government seems to be ripe pickings at this time.
So why fear Kejriwal? Because he has been pioneering an unprecedented revival of education in Delhi through the complete revamping of government schools, right from making school facilities world class to even sending teachers to hone their skills from prestigious universities like Cambridge. To understand where this fear is coming from, we need to tap at the roots of recent Indian history.
India’s freedom struggle was not really an organised movement. The only reason that brought people together was to end the British colonial rule. None of the leaders had a vision about the direction to take after Independence. Most of them sacrificed their lives not by logical thinking but by mere adrenaline induced rush of blood to their heads. Unlike the Mughals, the British did not conquer India by wars but by opportunism and deceit.
India’s erstwhile princely states were at war with one another, and the British started taking sides by helping one state to defeat the other. This is how they grew their influence on the land and eventually took control of it. So, the danger of India lapsing back into the scattered princely states scenario after the British left was looming which was why the Constitution was created to unite all princely states under a federal structure. But there was something that was fundamentally missed. A governance model.
Even after the leadership of the country changed hands, two aspects of colonial rule still live on. Subjugation and eventual enslavement of people is possible only when they cannot to ask questions. To ask questions, people need to have the ability to think critically – which is a skill we develop as we acquire knowledge. Our primary source of knowledge is education. India’s massive rural heartland hardly had schools till Independence. Subsequent Indian leadership and political parties have sought to maintain the status quo, to deprive rural people of education. More importantly, the prevailing caste system at that time which has fragmented the society to its extremities was incorporated into the Constitution thereby helping in the creation of vote banks for political parties.
Though the initial years after independence were chaotic, Jawaharlal Nehru had a long enough stint at the helm of affairs to realise that to fulfil the basic need of food, shelter and clothing and to have a decent enough life, what people needed to have was education and health. This should have had been the foundation of governance. Indira Gandhi also had enough time to realise this but even she didn’t.
When Kejriwal started questioning the foundations of India’s political system including its nexus with the corporate and people started deriding him, he realised that people did not know the one word that is the pivot of democracy – accountability. This is why he has grown quieter with time. After sorting out the burning issues of electricity and water in Delhi, he has put his entire energy and wherewithal into improving education and healthcare of Delhi, thereby laying the groundwork for a new model of governance. A strong body and mind of people are fundamental to the growth and evolution of the society and the country.
It takes mere logic to understand that people cannot be taught accountability. This is why he has set up the Mohalla Sabha system. People and AAP leaders have both been made equally accountable and culpable. Simply voting and keeping quiet is not enough. If people’s representatives are not working for them they are being made to call it out. This is why he is collecting money from people themselves to fight elections and by doing so he is putting the ball of accountability firmly in the people’s court. He is also trying to end the system of elected representatives becoming rulers of people in this way.
But what he is doing has far greater implications. Unlike other political parties and politicians who are trying to hold on to their power bases and maintain the existing political system, he is preparing the country for the future. It doesn’t make any sense for Indian society and political system to continue to exist in this rut after 50 or 100 years. India and her society will live past the times of Arvind Kejriwal, Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. Someone has to initiate a change sometime. He has seized the opportunity while on the other hand we are seeing power tussles within and between other parties.
The lust for power among the political class will exist as long as people vote for political leaders and make them their elected representatives. Unlike the persona of Narendra Modi which was bloated to the level of Messiah in 2014 and became bigger than the BJP itself, or the Gandhi family which still dominates the Congress party despite having the party’s image considerably eroded in people’s perception. The way Kejriwal has delegated responsibilities to AAP leaders has turned the spotlight onto them and away from him.
The worldwide recognition that the Happiness Curriculum and the Mohalla Clinics have received has clearly turned the country’s focus onto AAP’s governance model. Other state governments are now looking to adopt the Mohalla clinics system. Private schools in Delhi are eager to adopt the Happiness Curriculum. With every passing day, the stark difference between his governance model and that of established political parties in other states is resoundingly getting bigger. Though he did make mistakes at the beginning of his political career, he has always maintained that AAP has come into existence to change the model of governance in the country. He has brilliantly stuck to this agenda. Most importantly, the governance model he has created has no dependency on him. He has made sure it will survive and grow even after his time.
The success of his governance model can be measured with the tweets below:
The sole fear of the political class are the intellectuals and educated people, the ones who can think critically and question them. For so long, they have mostly stayed away from the murky world of politics. AAP, with it’s leadership crowded with well educated people has given them the perfect platform to speak boldly about the decay in the system. When people of the caliber of Kishore Mandhya become emboldened enough to take the plunge into politics through AAP, it is a huge red light alarm for all other political parties.
When the country is endlessly debating and spewing venom on Ayodhya, Sabarimala, beef ban, etc, Delhites have started speaking the language of governance.
While Modiji has to wear suits worth millions, globe trot and hug foreign heads of states to stay in the limelight, Kejriwal has stayed grounded, worked diligently and attracted the attention of the entire world towards the results of his work. When people start pledging their votes based on good governance and the work of the elected representatives, that’s when the country begins its journey towards true democracy and greatness.
The latest news is that Haryana’s CM is going to visit Delhi’s government schools and Mohalla Clinics, and Kejriwal is reciprocating by visiting government hospitals in Haryana. Looks like there is going to be wrestling and wrangling over better governance for the first time in independent India’s history, which was at its finest when there used to be ‘tark’ or debates among the learned and the most important people in the society on all subjects relevant to the society. Well, who are the ones rambling about bringing ‘Shining India’ back and who is really doing it?