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After the UP Elections
- An Open letter to the PM and the BJP
|by Col. Gopal Karunakaran|
The Modi Wave - A common Indian’s Perspective
Now that the epochal UP elections are over and the euphoria and celebrations and the colours of Holi will soon be behind us, I pen down some important issues to consider for our Prime Minister and the ruling BJP.
Education and Health care
No nation can aspire for greatness if its public health care and primary education is in shambles. Ours desperately is. The UK has 97% of its schools run by the state, Finland and Singapore, 98% . India has receded quickly to 60% . It is soon going to be 50%. The state has lost its oversight function in education and has let the system fail. Even the poorest of the poor have lost faith in government schools, and they are the best judge of what is good for their children.
Sovereignty from Corruption
Sovereign means independent - and while it means not being influenced in the affairs of our nation by external powers, we have been eaten from within by corruption of the state. One of the targets of the recent demonetization drive was corruption, but all public statements suggested that the rich were the only corrupt. No measures seemed to be in place to target the root of corruption, government officials and political parties. If private companies need to create black money it is to pay off officials - from the lowest to the highest in government to often do what they are expected to do. The rich who pay taxes, and abide by the law, don’t need to be treated as villains, they create wealth, generate employment and are the engines of our fast growing economy. What they could do with, is easier laws to help them generate more wealth legally – so that the state can build schools, hospitals, roads, and other things that the state should do for its citizens.
Our democracy survives because of elections, because of state legislative assemblies and the national parliament. Our democracies work also because of the opposition. The opposition is like the auditors, while we hate them, they keep us in check. Respect them. What we see in India’s parliament is not worthy of the informed public discourse I would want my students to learn from and emulate. The nature of public debate by all elements of our national parties; in parliament, public functions, election rallies and TV studios, is deeply embarrassing to a teacher of young Indians. It is often juvenile, coarse, and repulsive. I hope this majority mandate from the people of India will help your party’s public behavior improve. Let it be a bit more, statesmen-like, witty, lofty and worthy of emulation by the minor opposition that you have.
In-spite of this strong mandate, we still have a divided nation. A country with 200 million people of faiths other than the majority one, needs to be deeply conscious of this essential imprint in our constitution. Some of the utterings of our so called leaders have no place in a nation that professes secularism. The many years in the Indian Army has shown me first-hand what true secularism is. Every soldier, regardless of his faith, before he climbs up the Siachen glacier, from the base camp, bows his head, in front of a single house of prayer, a simple tent. Inside that one tent is a Bhagavat Gita, a Koran, a Guru Granth Sahib and a Bible. Each soldier prays to his maker to help him do his duty towards his nation in the tough months ahead, at an altitude of over 17000 feet and with temperatures below minus 30 degrees C. Being patriotic, we soldiers know, is not confined to a faith, but to a love for the country, its ideals and the willingness to die defending those ideals, if need be.
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