“Whither India?” was the name of the last book which Frank Moraes wrote before he left India.
As a young Military Cadet in 1958-1959 at the National Defense Academy, Kharakvasla I chanced on the book in the Academy Library as a new arrival and instantly picked it up for my reading. Those were heady days politically for India with Jawaharlal Nehru in peak form. It intrigued me as to why somebody was doubting as to where was India heading. Under Nehru’s spell we all believed as 16-17 year olds that India was headed towards greatness. As one read this book this book three or four times over one could see that the author as a prescient reputed journalist had sensed that India was not headed in the right direction.
Today in 2011 what would have Frank Moraes entitled his book seeing the abysmal political depths to which India has descended?
Retrospectively as one looks back at the last four to five decades one is saddened to see that India has stood let down terribly by her political leaders and her political class. Neither the Congress Party’s much deified political dynasty nor Bharatiya Janta Party’s Atal Behari Vajpayee stand distinguished as political leaders of vision imbued with putting India on an ascendant trajectory to greatness. The other Prime Ministers were mere gap-fillers jettisoned into short spells of power by the chicanery of India’s politics.
In 2011 as one surveys India’s political scene the most striking fact that strikes one’s mind is that the Congress Party despite what the Congress Party describes as their redoubtable Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi has squandered the political mandate of the General Elections in 2009. It is beyond one’s normal comprehension that in the space of just two years the Congress Government has put India in an uncontrollable drift politically, economically and even national security wise.
Whither India in 2011 has become a difficult question to answer as the Congress Government engulfed with multiple political corruption scams generated by its policies of commission and omission has lost its grip totally on India’s political governance. The Prime Minister has publicly expressed his utter helplessness in controlling corruption or runaway inflation or terrorism attacks on India.
India’s political scene stands further darkened by the fact that India’s main Opposition Party, the Bharatiya Janata Party itself stands’ Congressified’ and has neither displayed the readiness nor the political will to fill in the political vacuum created by the ruling Government’s misgovernance . If the BJP is running aheadof the Congress in political public opinion polls presently it arises by default from Congress Government’s failings and not from any visionary or dynamic policies of the BJP.
India is politically stuck with these two political parties as the regional party leaders are vulnerable to coercion by the Government through the use of central agencies to pressurize them on corruption cases in which most of them are invariably enmeshed.
However all is not lost. Expressed in an earlier Column of mine I had mentioned that in the history of any country when darkness engulfs it and hopelessness prevails, history has an uncanny way of throwing up the ‘Man of the Moment’. This is how Anna Hazare emerged into India’s public consciousness of India. He seems to have heralded a political transformation of India and rightly deciphered that at the root of India’s ills lay in unbridled political corruption as a stepping stone towards acquiring unbridled political power.
But India and all Indians need to realize and recognize that one Anna Hazare is not enough to effect a political transformation of India especially in the face of India’s entrenched political class fearing the loss of their power and pelf. It was so evident during the height of Anna’s mass political movement. If the BJP has now come on board on the issue of political corruption as espoused by Anna Hazare it has taken place after witnessing the tremendous public support for his cause. If the Congress Government showed some minimal responses of accommodating Anna’s demands it was due to sheer force of Indian massive political response to Anna’s call.
India’s middle class and especially the Generation X seems to have awoken politically and Anna’s calls have echoed in their ears and struck a responsive chord which in the years to come may provide the steam for onward movement of Anna’s crusades. In that lies India’s redemption and rerieving India from the despicable depths to which India’s political classes have consigned it to.
“Whither India” will be a persistent question that will continue to nag all right thinking Indians for years to come until India’s Generation X rises to the challenge of transforming India. It will be a hard fought battle to dislodge the entrenched political classes from the politically unchallengeable corruption redoubts that they have built around themselves. India’s Supreme Court needs to be eternally vigilant and provide the breaches for unscrambling these political redoubts.