Monday, January 25, 2010

Save the Republic from klepto-plutocracy, Dr. JP Tells the educated

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today regretted that the well-to-do sections of society which have benefited from the Indian republic focus on its failings instead of its successes and refuse to be part of the solution.

India cannot remain strong, united, democratic, and prosperous unless the enlightened sections of society play an effective role during and between elections. It is tragic that the educated in India kept off the polling booth, unlike in developed countries, whereas the poor here exercised their franchise for whatever reasons. If the young and the educated shed their inertia and take active part in politics, the Indian republic will not merely survive but flourish, Dr. JP said.

Addressing the media on the diamond jubilee of the Constitution, the national anthem and the national flag, Dr. JP said the very survival of the Indian republic for 60 years is a cause for celebration and rejoicing. “Swayed by day-to-day politics, we should not be oblivious to history in the making.” No country is more diverse than India because it is the birthplace for Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism and provided a home for Christians, Muslims, and Parsis. It has a mind-boggling number of castes, languages and dialects. Yet, it has survived as a democracy by granting voting rights to every one including women ever since the inception of the Republic for the first time in world history, conducting successful elections and facilitating peaceful change of government, preserving freedoms despite an aberration like Emergency, taking affirmative action for the disadvantaged, and registering a modest economic growth. In contrast, countries like the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia broke up the moment the dictators lost hold on their people, while Pakistan broke up and Sri Lanka was ravaged by insurrection on the language issue.

Dr. JP said the Indian republic has registered success in resolving conflicting claims over the national language, facilitating caste-based reservations and in preserving secularism. It has matured as a federation of States. All these are remarkable successes in nation-building by any standards.

Dr. JP said that everything in the Indian republic is not hunky-dory. It has failed to ensure that there is no discrimination based on the accident of the birth of a child in a certain caste or religion. It has abysmally failed in ensuring decent education and quality health care, imparting livelihood skills and providing employment opportunities to all. It has failed in transferring power to people at the grassroots level by strengthening the third tier of government and ushering in citizen centered governance. It has spawned a Pluto-kleptocracy as is evident from reports that there are many bureaucrats in Andhra Pradesh each of whom has amassed wealth worth Rs.1000 crore. Money power today is so powerful that it can destabilize or dictate governments.

Dr. JP said these problems are not intractable if the people in power have the will and determination. Comprehensive electoral reforms, strong and effective regulation of political parties and resolute and ruthless action against the corrupt should be institutionalized. Political parties should refrain from exploiting differences based on religion, caste, region and language to serve their vote bank politics. Instead, they should demolish the narrow domestic walls that Rabindranath Tagore talked of.

Dr. JP is optimistic of the Indian republic surviving not merely for the next 60 years but the next 600 years and flourishing because we have the technology and resources unlike at any time in India’s history. While in the first sixty years we have stabilized as the largest and most diverse republic in human history, in the next sixty years we should emerge as the world’s greatest democratic republic. Will the educated and the enlightened play the role expected of them at least now? he asked.

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