Recently I picked up Mark Tully and Satish Jacobs’s Mrs. Gandhi’s Last Battle: Amritsar.
And as soon as I finished reading the Preface I had a doubt over when was it written. The footnote said November 1985 but the narrative and the theme sounded so familiar. It talked about the maladies of our administrative service modelled on the lines of the Raj’s ICS and called out the flaws in Indian Police Service. The rampant corruption and the loopholes in the system allowed the wealthy and influential to let the culprits get away. The snail pace of the judicial system did not help either in restoring the faith among the common public that the culprits will be brought to justice.
The bureaucracy and the oldest political party consisted of time-servers who were ever ready to please their political bosses in lieu of future rewards. The institutions called for reform if we had to be modern and step into the 21st century. This is how the authors describe the country’s scenario in 1985.
Fast-forward it to 2014, amidst the brouhaha surrounding the General Elections later this year and we find the above issues repeated again and again in the speeches of our political leaders. Everyone is claiming that he/his party will do all that is right.
30 years have passed since then and we have had 8 prime ministers with both national parties having a chance to rule and still we are stuck in the same old mire, trying to find a way out. All this chest beating in the name of the next big Superpower can for a moment take the focus of the current problems. But in reality, we still haven’t made a sincere effort to move forward. All the while we have been passing the buck.
I might be accused of giving a melancholy perspective. But I believe it is essential to look both at the good and the bad to take a correct stock of things. Transparency (RTI) and the growing awareness amongst the public are two great positives which might help us buck the trend and move ahead.