The graphic videos and photographs of what has happened in Mumbai in last few days should be a wakeup call to all Indians. It has shown again a total failure of our system on all fronts ' the intelligence, political leadership and even our military leadership. That it took us 3 full days to deal with a handful of terrorists says a lot about the way our brave commandos were deployed.
It is also a sad situation that the attention of the media and through it that of India was riveted on the Mumbai mayhem because Taj and Oberoi Hotels were involved. Bigger tragedies have taken place in India elsewhere where many more people have been killed but the media does not focus on it. Only when the lives of the rich and famous are involved does the media get worked-up. Thousands of suicides of farmers, deaths in rural areas and bigger atrocities committed in these areas do not get into the vision field of the media.
Nevertheless it is a good sign that at least this event seemed to have stirred the country and we hope some good will come out of it.
One of the main reasons I think why this has happened is the corruption that has seeped very deeply into our society. Everything has a price and is a purchasable commodity. One of the first casualties of corruption is governance. We see all around us the signs of lack of governance and an attitude of 'chalta hai'. The Mumbai carnage is a shining example of this state of affairs and people have correctly identified that the root cause are the politicians and the people who govern us.
As we have seen on the TV, read in the newspapers and from the general feedback from common man ' the stock of politicians is at an all time low. Naturally all corruption starts from top and unless and until the rulers become sincere, there is very little hope for the country.
How do we change this state of affairs and elect politicians who are sincere and not corrupt? Generally, whenever concerned citizens sit and discuss these issues either in their homes, on TV, or in any other fora, the first reaction is to tell good people to join politics. For most of the young people who are successful in their chosen profession, joining politics is an anathema and waste of time and talent. Only a very successful industrialist, professional or any other person who has excelled in his or her chosen profession for a long time can afford to do it and that time sometimes comes when a person is nearly 60 or 70 years old. By this time it is too late to get into the rough and tumble of politics and that is the reason why some of these people become MPs of Rajya Sabha or MLCs in state upper houses. Besides at this ripe age most have passed their prime and do not have the energy or the ideas needed to take this country forward rapidly.
I think a better answer would be for local citizens to select a talented and sincere young person and support him or her to the hilt both financially and otherwise. Identifying such persons is a real challenge but there are thousands such people all over this country. I also feel that young IAS officers will also be suitable for this challenge. Politics is a full time profession and a person dedicated to it right from a young age can do much more than somebody coming to it later in life. In a parliamentary democracy that India is, one can not hope to gain politically unless and until one belongs to a party. Starting a party is one way of doing it but there are quite a number of roadblocks to make it an all India entity. A simpler thing is to stand for election as an independent candidate and once like-minded people get elected as independents in different states then a party can be formed nationally. That will be true democracy.
The advantage of this system will be that most of the professionals, who while doing their business, can still be actively involved in the local and national affairs through the candidate. Also there will be a group or body of citizens who will act as watchdogs on the candidate. Such a mechanism is not available presently since the candidate is only beholden to the party bosses and his or her selection is done for some consideration other than the welfare of the local people or the country.
Naturally the corporate world, professionals and other concerned citizens will have to be very actively involved in this exercise. There is a lot of cynicism in the minds of most people who say that such things are not feasible. However, we will have to start somewhere. I think it is a doable goal and unless we all start being involved in the affairs of our country we will see balkanization and mafia rule. Similar cynicism also existed before Mahatma Gandhi came. So either we wait for another Mahatma Gandhi or start this rivulet and let a Gandhi or Obama join a large number of them to make them into a mighty river.