I am amazed when I read extreme, and often exaggerated, views of established and renowned columnalists or analysts in the media on topical issues and problems of national importance. Citing one or more recent occurrences, one would conclude or declare that the nation is in tremendous crisis, governance has collapsed and system has totally failed with anarchy ruling roost everywhere. Then he would give some wonderful, often utopian, solution of another extreme.
Any workable solution is seldom offered, and if at all any offered, it is usually left open ended. If that be the case what is the difference between this thinker and any other opposition party leader indulging in criticism of those in power, irrespective of good or bad done, with eyes clearly set in the distant or near future. In this case, one can perhaps satisfy his (or her) king-size ego besides receiving some publicity and acceptance.
There is no doubt or dispute that the current socio-economic and political system is besieged with corruption, soaring inflation, large scale unemployment and poverty. There is no doubt or dispute that the country needs good governance and a healthy democratic functioning. In a democracy, this responsibility largely lies on the elected representatives. Because such representatives are elected by the people, for the people and from amongst the people, the responsibility equally lies on the (common) people to elect a suitable representative with the known integrity, honesty, vision and competence.
When such opportunity arises, there are clearly two choices and people need to elect between them i.e. whether they want to be driven by the sentiments of cast, creed, religion, region, and who offers more packages of freebies or they opt for a candidate better known for his (or her) integrity, honesty, vision and competence. If the choice is limited, they could still settle for the lesser evil or perhaps even reject candidature if none found suitable.
Can any of us deny that in this country, a large section of people still use their franchise based on subjective considerations? For illustration, if an individual or party assures power and water supply free or at a cheap rate, he or the party will get an overwhelming support from people in a governance where there is already a provision for free connection and concessional tariff for the people below poverty line. Should not we as responsible people agree that the minimum cost of a service must be paid and recovered and the government subsidy beyond a point is not a solution? Obviously, offering freebies could be a clever tool to garner support but it can't be a tool of good governance. There are known instances of free distribution of laptops and televisions without any guarantee for even minimum power supply or if such a guarantee exists, it is not adhered to. Those who take resort to such tactics for seasonal or immediate gains, are working against the spirit of long term strategic planning for sustained and systematic all round development of the nation.
It may be remembered that in any society from the ancient time, good and evil forces have always existed. Hence presence of a few evil forces (or people) and consequent ill effects can not be entirely ruled out. When we talk of corruption, let us not forget rampant corruption world over in the form of hoarding, black marketing, illegal gratification and bribery post world wars I and II, persons doing so with the ambition to become millionaires overnight. Where there are opportunities and scope for corrupt practices, such people come in force to avail it in fitness of the old saying ‘make hay while the sun shines’.
Obvious solution and answer is also before us. Today nationalities and societies, whose economies are relatively stable, face this menace with lesser intensity. Under developed and developing countries face corruption more as a challenge. Thus an optimum solution lies in a developed and stable economy. Hence for the rapidly growing Indian economy, this challenge will remain to cop up along with problems like inflation, unemployment and poverty for many more years to come. Good governance can certainly offset and curtail these menaces, if not entirely, to a considerable extent.
I am consciously avoiding making any comment with political overtones and there is no point in saying this party or leader is good or that party or leader is bad. In my opinion those who are in public service of any form should accord adequate attention to reflect appropriate moral and ethical norms through their personal conduct and behavior in a transparent manner. There is no point when you talk of integrity, honesty, futuristic vision, transparency and competence at all forums but your own conduct does not suggest that you are walking your talk. There is no point when you talk at bringing in efficiency, effectiveness and economy but don’t implement it at your home and office because you think you are a different breed and class.
To my mind, core problems lie here and people in important positions in all walks of life need to set own houses in order before advising people at large. This is more so important because common man look at celebrities and important people as role model. And this equally applies to all walks of life i.e. politicians, bureaucrats, technocrats and other professionals, writers, analysts, media, common man and all. Be it a writer, media, leader or common man, you can’t simply keep sitting on the fence away from the reach of scrutiny and keep only criticizing and commenting on the governance and institutions.
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Dr. Jaipal Singh
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