Remember that ancient tale about the boy who cried wolf? False alarms of an approaching wolf lulled society into ignoring the wolf when it really came. In India the word ‘Emergency’ has acquired a dirty connotation. Indira Gandhi’s fraudulent imposition of dictatorship in the name of emergency justified by leveling totally false allegations against Jayaprakash Narain brought this about. Much later Indira Gandhi acknowledged her error publicly in a speech delivered at Ram Lila Ground in Delhi. But the damage had been done.
Now in public perception no real emergency can ever exist. But consider the current situation.
The political twits who rule us seem, like frogs in a well, incapable of thinking beyond the context of petty electoral politics. But what is at stake is not the future of the government but the future of the nation.
Corruption is so rampant that it reveals not a crisis of legality but a crisis of morality. All institutions have collapsed. There is no governance worth the name. Separatist insurgencies and terrorism are not abating. Almost one third of the districts in the nation are out of government’s control where only the writ of the Maoists runs. Hostile neighbouring nations continue to subvert national security.
Recently the blandishments of the visiting Chinese Prime Minister were preceded by Chinese army incursions across the border to be followed by the most bold and brazen terrorist attack by pro-China terrorists in Chhattisgarh state. And intellectuals and bleeding hearts among politicians are sufficiently subverted to describe the Maoists as Gandhians with guns simply because they spread terror in the name of poor tribal people. These include Mrs. Sonia Gandhi with her woolly-headed approach. Our bleeding hearts forget that when Gandhiji was asked the relationship between means and ends he said that means were the end. No cause except self-defence can justify the use of violence as a means to deliver results. This simple axiom seems to elude some of our intellectuals. Meanwhile if a graph of the nation’s political and social condition were drawn it would show a continuous and accelerating downward trend. After the latest terrorist attack in Chhattisgarh India has approached rock bottom.
What might be done to reverse this trend towards eventual self destruction?
The initial political reactions by the ruling party to the Chhattisgarh attack were predictably pathetic. Demands were voiced for the resignation of the Chief Minister and for imposition of President’s Rule in the state. The political twits who rule us seem, like frogs in a well, incapable of thinking beyond the context of petty electoral politics. But what is at stake is not the future of the government but the future of the nation. The challenge needs to be recognized and faced not by a political party or a government or a bunch of politicians but by the whole nation. How then might the nation give an adequate response? There is no sign of a credible government or a credible opposition emerging. And the reforms required to pull India out of the hole it has dug itself into are very formidable.
At risk of inviting ridicule and strident opposition I venture a suggestion.
For India to initiate meaningful political reform to earn its rightful place in the world that allows it an appropriate global role, three basic objectives demand attention. First and foremost terrorism has to be eliminated. An adequately empowered federal anti-terror agency that may collect intelligence has to be established. To fight terror on the ground the help of the army must be fully utilized. In certain areas there should be no hesitation in imposing martial law that empowers the army to conduct operations. If necessary the government may impose Emergency limited to any part of the country as is allowed by the Constitution. In return for laying down arms total amnesty should be offered to insurgents. All non-combat collaborators of terrorist outfits should be told clearly that no difference between the armed and unarmed members will be recognized in dealing with terrorism. And then whatever the cost the government should endeavor to stamp out terror within a year. It is an achievable goal.
Second, a review commission to study the Constitution and reform the political system must once again be established. The earlier commission created by the NDA government failed to deliver results. The text of the Constitution must be respected and followed in spirit. The President must exercise the powers assigned to the office. There must be formed a proper Inter-State Council that ensures federalism. There must be genuine devolution of power by giving adequate powers and responsibility to local bodies and village panchayats. The numerous Constitutional Amendments and flawed Supreme Court rulings related to the Constitution must be reappraised and where necessary ruthlessly scrapped. Within one year the proposed commission could complete its task.
Finally, the government must create a clear and concise roadmap to establish a South Asian Union that may involve SAARC member nations in a system having joint defence and a common market. Regardless of initial reactions the government must prepare the scheme and offer it to all SAARC member nations. In time inevitably the South Asian Union will emerge because enlightened self interest of people will prevail. Without the establishment of such a Union no nation of the region can achieve its full potential.
The key question must be addressed: which government could accomplish all this within a span of one or two years? No existing party by itself offers realistic hope. Only a national government publicly committed to the above three-point agenda can galvanize people to participate in a meaningful nationwide effort. Critics will scoff at the notion that the present class of politicians can ever be inspired to perform satisfactorily. But in the given time frame a new class of politicians cannot be manufactured. Sceptics should recall the rich and ancient Indian legend of Valmiki who started as a dacoit and ended up as a saint. Motivation provides the key. If Indians can be inspired to show the world what this nation is capable of might not the corrupt politicians of today flower into visionary statesmen of tomorrow? The situation demands radical and daring thought. Consider how things were yesterday, how they are today, and how they deteriorate every day. It is time to consider the modalities for establishing a national government offering the widest participation to all existing parties. Such a government can be formed from within the present Parliament or after an immediately ordered general election. Critics might scoff at such views being expressed. But the future will decide whether this proposal reflects the views of an alarmist or a realist. There is a wolf stalking this nation. Once it pounces there will be no time to think.