365 days of freedom

Last year, on August 15, The Asian Age published an article written by me, titled Did India Awake? In the article, I had referred to Jawaharlal Nehru’s historic speech, delivered at mid-night of August 14-15, 1947,

in which he had declared: “When the world sleeps, India would awake to light and freedom.” Around this poetic expression, I had built up the proposition that India had indisputably woken up but was walking on an uneven and uncertain path.
Today, when I look at the intervening period between last year’s Independence Day and this year’s, I find that India’s path has become far more uneven and uncertain. In fact, the country has started tumbling over and is hurting badly.
In this period of one year, India has seen its worst cases of “scams, scandals and swindling” — Commonwealth Games, 2G spectrum and Bellary mines. These cases have no parallel in scale or sheer brazenness.
Take, for instance, the Delhi Commonwealth Games, October 2010. The main objective of bringing these Games to India was to enhance its standing among the comity of nations and to make it a more attractive destination for foreign investment, besides providing a long-term boost to tourism. But, after spending over Rs 18,000 crore, all we were left with was a plethora of cases of corruption which have badly sullied the country’s image.
Between August 15, 2010, and August 15, 2011, three notable judgments were delivered by the Supreme Court. One relates to the Chhattisgarh Salwa Judum case (July 5, 2011), the second one to the case of sewage workers of the Delhi Jal Board (July 12, 2011) and the third (July 4, 2011) to the writ petition filed by Ram Jethmalani and Others for the recovery of black money stashed abroad. In all these cases, the Supreme Court has, in its own way, pointed the finger at some of the deep and dangerous pot-holes in the path on which India is currently walking.
In the salwa judum case, the court order talked about how “the culture of unrestrained selfishness and greed spawned by neo-liberal economic policy” of the state is largely responsible for the Naxal/Maoist violence and how the “amoral political economy”, coupled with scant respect for “the vision and values of Indian constitutionalism”, has virtually created a “heart of darkness” in the tribal belt of Chhattisgarh.
With the same insight, the Supreme Court, in the Delhi Jal Board case, talks about how insensitive the state apparatus has become and how, even in the country’s capital, sewage workers suffer “high morbidity and mortality” on account of the apathy of those whose duty it is to supply “protective gear” to them.
In the Ram Jethmalani case, by constituting a special investigative team under the chairmanship of Justice Jeevan Reddy (Retd), to investigate and initiate prosecution against the holders of illegal deposits in foreign banks, the Supreme Court has left no one in doubt what it thinks about the growing incapacity of the governance machinery to tackle vested interests. It is this incapacity which has enabled tax evaders to stash abroad amounts which, according to the Global Financial Integrity Report, may total up to $1.4 trillion (Rs 70 lakh crore)

This one-year period also witnessed decline in various institutions of governance. The latest reports of the ministries and field organisations reveal that in 2011, “completion delays” alone are likely to cost the public exchequer additional Rs 1,20,627 crore, and that the biggest casualty would be the key infra-structure projects. The International Finance Corporation and World Bank’s report, Doing Business 2011, ranked India low, at 134th position, on the list of 183 countries surveyed for “Ease of Doing Business”.
After the grim and gory tragedy enacted by terrorists in Mumbai in November 2008, which resulted in the death of about 170 innocent persons and showed the overall security apparatus of the country in extremely poor light, solemn assurances were held out to the public by the Central and state governments that counter-terrorism-machinery would be effectively strengthened. Massive resources were made available for setting up a National Investigating Agency and a National Intelligence Grid and also for upgrading equipment and operational skills of the police personnel. And yet, on July 13, 2011, the terrorists were able to carry out serial bomb blasts in the heart of Mumbai with ease and confidence.
Not very different is the position with regard to the challenges posed by Naxals who are now working on a new strategy to infiltrate into urban areas. Their aim is to tap disgruntled workers in the informal sector, build a cadre of urban guerrillas to establish supply lines of arms and ammunition to the rural areas.
In the economic sphere, too, the sign-posts do not point to an elevating path ahead.
The prices of essential commodities have risen sharply, and inclusive growth remains on paper. The number of dollar billionaires has increased to 69. They together hold wealth equivalent to one-third of the country’s GDP, while about 800 million Indians live on less than `20 per day.
Hardly any housing is being provided to the urban poor and that’s why the number of slums in our metros is increasing daily.
There may have been a few bright spots here and there, but the overall journey of the nation, during the year in question, has been extremely hazardous. Is it not time that all right thinking people of India got together to ponder over the numerous disabilities that the country has contracted while traversing the wrong path, and carve out a safer, surer and smoother course for the future?
History tells us in no uncertain terms that those who do not care to see the warning signals of a gathering storm are soon engulfed and destroyed by it.

Jagmohan is a former governor of J&K and a former Union minister

Post new comment

<form action="/comment/reply/91426" accept-charset="UTF-8" method="post" id="comment-form"> <div><div class="form-item" id="edit-name-wrapper"> <label for="edit-name">Your name: <span class="form-required" title="This field is required.">*</span></label> <input type="text" maxlength="60" name="name" id="edit-name" size="30" value="Reader" class="form-text required" /> </div> <div class="form-item" id="edit-mail-wrapper"> <label for="edit-mail">E-Mail Address: <span class="form-required" title="This field is required.">*</span></label> <input type="text" maxlength="64" name="mail" id="edit-mail" size="30" value="" class="form-text required" /> <div class="description">The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.</div> </div> <div class="form-item" id="edit-comment-wrapper"> <label for="edit-comment">Comment: <span class="form-required" title="This field is required.">*</span></label> <textarea cols="60" rows="15" name="comment" id="edit-comment" class="form-textarea resizable required"></textarea> </div> <fieldset class=" collapsible collapsed"><legend>Input format</legend><div class="form-item" id="edit-format-1-wrapper"> <label class="option" for="edit-format-1"><input type="radio" id="edit-format-1" name="format" value="1" class="form-radio" /> Filtered HTML</label> <div class="description"><ul class="tips"><li>Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.</li><li>Allowed HTML tags: &lt;a&gt; &lt;em&gt; &lt;strong&gt; &lt;cite&gt; &lt;code&gt; &lt;ul&gt; &lt;ol&gt; &lt;li&gt; &lt;dl&gt; &lt;dt&gt; &lt;dd&gt;</li><li>Lines and paragraphs break automatically.</li></ul></div> </div> <div class="form-item" id="edit-format-2-wrapper"> <label class="option" for="edit-format-2"><input type="radio" id="edit-format-2" name="format" value="2" checked="checked" class="form-radio" /> Full HTML</label> <div class="description"><ul class="tips"><li>Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.</li><li>Lines and paragraphs break automatically.</li></ul></div> </div> </fieldset> <input type="hidden" name="form_build_id" id="form-dd836e777de965c079333191ac86de0d" value="form-dd836e777de965c079333191ac86de0d" /> <input type="hidden" name="form_id" id="edit-comment-form" value="comment_form" /> <fieldset class="captcha"><legend>CAPTCHA</legend><div class="description">This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.</div><input type="hidden" name="captcha_sid" id="edit-captcha-sid" value="80333079" /> <input type="hidden" name="captcha_response" id="edit-captcha-response" value="NLPCaptcha" /> <div class="form-item"> <div id="nlpcaptcha_ajax_api_container"><script type="text/javascript"> var NLPOptions = {key:'c4823cf77a2526b0fba265e2af75c1b5'};</script><script type="text/javascript" src="http://call.nlpcaptcha.in/js/captcha.js" ></script></div> </div> </fieldset> <span class="btn-left"><span class="btn-right"><input type="submit" name="op" id="edit-submit" value="Save" class="form-submit" /></span></span> </div></form>

No Articles Found

No Articles Found

No Articles Found

I want to begin with a little story that was told to me by a leading executive at Aptech. He was exercising in a gym with a lot of younger people.

Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen didn’t make the cut. Neither did Shaji Karun’s Piravi, which bagged 31 international awards.