Let me make it very clear in the first line itself. I am not a fan of Narendra Modi. Rather I would despise him from the core if he were indeed involved in Godhra massacre the way they say he was. But that does not stop me from admiring the work he has done for Gujarat.
No, I am not even promoting him for the Prime Ministership or any such thing. But I would like to ask a few questions. The moment Modi's name comes up, the whole political class, esp. the Congress brings up the lives lost in Godhra. Fair enough. But isn't it Congress which presided over the killings of 3,500 Sikhs in 1984 after Indira Gandhi was assassinated by a Sikh, which was the action of one individual. Why is that so casually ignored? Anyways, I have something more important to ask. How many lives do we lose each year to abject poverty? And by that I mean just the number of deaths. Not the number human lives wasted in beggary or such inhuman ways. Do we have any estimates? Do we have any idea? Do we even bother? Why? Because it happens one at a time, away from the glare of the TV cameras. Because it is not as dramatic as communal violence? Because we have gotten so used to it that it doesn't stir the common people any more? Because it never becomes the election "mudda"?
Call it what you may, but that to me is massacre in a different format, the behind-the-back, quietly-eroding-every-fabric-of-humanity way. So it goes unnoticed. But its human life anyways. Whether what they have can qualify as dignified human life is a different question all together, which we humans don't want to ponder over purely because we want to spare ourselves the shared guilt (we nonchalantly pass it off as destiny or our own helpless to do anything about it). Have we ever thought why a country which once was the richest in the world (though centuries ago, we still brag about it), which boasts of some of the most fertile land in the world does not have enough food to feed its own citizens? What has led us here? Who are the people responsible for leading us here? Do they have any answers as to what have they done over the years? Well, truth be told, every leader of the country or state we have had till now is directly responsible for this situation. Why? Because it was his primary duty, and he has not only let us down, he has misguided us and misled us into believing that this is the best India can be/do. All of them are collectively responsible for every life lost due to starvation or poverty. They never take responsibility, and we never hold them accountable. All of them are mass murderers. We just fail to see it that ways.
Let me try and explain why we can safely call them so. After 60 years of independence, we hardly have a 1 km stretch of road which is levelled and without pot holes. I am not a civil engineer, but my friends would back me up on this one. A newly constructed road which in normal circumstances should last atleast 3-4 years looks a decade old in less than 6 months. Why is the PWD/CPWD engineer who approved it and the contracter who built it not responsible for the mess? Why don't we make them accountable? Tenders are passed and won by paying bribes, shitty roads are built, and they break down in 6 months. New tenders are passed and the cycle goes on. And every honest tax paying individual loses. And not just in our money which we pay as taxes, which can be put to better use. But we pay other prices as well. The amount of time lost in driving on such roads, the accidents caused because of poor driving conditions etc etc. There was a study a few years back which summarized that poor roads alone contribute to over two thousand crores of auto spare parts. We pay a price not only via taxes, but in various ways. We just don't realize it or have accepted it as the way of life in India. And the leaders are responsible because it does not take 60 years to build an efficient system which performs its duties. If you have any doubts regarding this, please take a look at Japan. Yes, I am fully aware of the differences of size as well as history. But if that is the benchmark, where do we stand?
Why is it that there are no concrete minimum wage structure in India, one that is diligently followed. Why have we allowed this exploitation of the poor, which condemns them to a life of abject poverty and hopelessness. Why is that majority of the country does not have a fair chance at life? We, as a nation can't provide that to our own people. Our own people who till our lands, grow our food, clean our roads, and dispose our garbage? Why can't we give them a decent life? I am not asking for a good life. But decent, human living standards. Is that too much to ask?
And why do we not ask these questions? And if we do, whom do we ask?
I am not really in a mood to tharsh any and everyone. I know India has its particular challenges. But lets ask ourselves a few honest questions. Why can't accountability not built into the funcitoning of the Indian Government. Let me propose a simple system which I am sure would work. Let's say a stretch of road needs to built. Put up a board at both the ends of the road saying when the road was built, who built it, who was the overseeing officer, and what is the estimated life of the road. In case of failure to meet the preset standards, the people can hold the contracter and the officer responsible, who can then be persecuted for their misdeamours. Yes, there are issues of tolerences, but they can be built into the system. Its simple. And it will be effective. Roads meant for 4 years would atleast last 3 years. I can accept that level of performance. But 6 months. Come on, don't bullshit us around so much. It really hurts our intelligence. And our pride of being Indians. Similar systems can be designed for every single post in the government.
Something similar or even more stringent can be designed for our elected officials esp. MPs and MLAs. One simple way could be that every single candidate be required to present a proposal of the work he will do in his constituency with the funds allocated to him. And the winning MP will be held accountable for it. Failure to do so would simply lead to barring of candidature for the next election term. He does not need to present a full fleged progress map. Just the work he will do with the funds that are directly allocated to him. And the proposal should not have 2 schools and 5 hospitals. It would require details of the work, with reason for doing so, and the budget for it. If nothing, it will ensure that only people who know what's required of them and who understand how to do them will be able to contest the elections. If the details of the proposals are made public, people would come to understand which candidate understands their deepest problems, and how he will solve them. This will automatically ensure the most eligible candidate wins.
I am no expert on democracy and the election system, but in developed countries people are aware enough not be fooled every time. We still are not a mature democracy, in a sense that the people still do not have that level of awareness and understanding. We need these checks and balances to take us to a level where every eligible voter is capable of understanding these nuances. When that day comes shall I be proud to call India the largest democracy in the world. Right now, it's a bad joke on the whole idea of democracy.
Anyways, coming to the basic idea behind this long rant. Narendra Modi is no saint. Whatever he is accused of doing is not pardonable. But we need to give credit where it's due. The point I want to raise is why are people who have been directly and indirectly responsible for millions of lives lost and a few hundred million wasted because of poverty never brought to justice? Because they had the skill to disguise it behind words and excuses?
Ah, the sad part is that the rant ends but this drama of Indian politics doesn't.
Okay, the last line was too dramatic, but I could not sustain myself...