I could not have written these lines with a cleaner state of mind. The 2011 Assembly poll results are still a clear 10 hours away. For once at least, my political immaturity appears to be acting in favour of my admitted position of neutrality.
What do I expect from the new Government, be it green or red? My foremost demand surrounds fairness in its dealings with every single person, whatever his or her political allegiance might be. I look forward to living in a world that respects individual beliefs, in politics, in religion and in social values. And, foremost of all, I want to be able to accept the winner tomorrow without any trace of a demur, irrespective of the way I exercised my voting rights.
I do not want to see warring camps avenging themselves violently in retaliation of past misdeeds committed by opponents. Not a single human life should be sacrificed, since human beings are the most precious amongst economic resources. Violence runs counter to any attempt towards bringing about economic progress.
More specifically, the Government to be sworn in must choose the removal of corruption in every sphere of life as the most important target in its agenda. Almost equally essential is the need to recognize the right of all individuals to be educated. It is education alone that engenders self-confidence and the latter in turn drives a person towards striving for improvement in his or her standard of living, instead of depending on the charity of the powerful. Both primary as well as higher education will need the Government’s attention, but primary education should be emphasized more.
Small, medium as well as large scale industries must be encouraged, not only with a view towards employment creation but also towards improving the state’s revenue earnings, so that revenue deficits are reduced and productive assets are created. Incomes generated by these assets will finally help the state to emerge from a possible debt trap.
Agriculture, needless to say, cannot be ignored, but a land for industry plan must also be worked out, taking into confidence potential land-losers, compensating them for their losses with a human face. In this connection, the 1894 Land Acquisition Act must be amended without further delay.
In the political sphere, I look forward to seeing the emergence of a strong and respon[sible opposition that works constructively with the Government in power. Inflation has come to live with us and political leaders should spend time and effort to understand the economic causes underlying inflation instead of trying to find political solutions to the problem. Instead of calling bandhs to tackle the phenomenon, efforts should be made to identify the persons who merit subsidization. For example, there is little sense in selling subsidized LPG cylinders to five star hotels and business magnates or diesel for running expensive cars or generators in large shopping malls. The needy should be subsidized, but the cost or the subsidy or a part of it needs to be borne by the rich instead of the Government.
Bobby Kennedy had famously paraphrased George Bernard Shaw by his statement, “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” Mr. Kennedy’s viewpoint looms large in my mind, now that the waiting period is almost over.
[A highly edited version of this post appeared in the Delhi edition of Hindustan Times on May 14, 2011. The full version was published by the Kolkata edition of Hindustan Times on May 15, 2011.]