Chodo kal ki baten …but will they?
The UPA Government is stumbling from one crisis to another at a time India needs political stability, clean governance and robust policy making. Hit by a hail of corruption charges, the coalition regime is busy fire fighting with little or no evidence of it being in command of the administration.
An IAS couple I’ve known for some years were visiting Delhi from a nearby state the other day. They told me that work was at a standstill in most key ministries at the centre with ministers and bureaucrats unwilling to stick their necks out. Things are unlikely to improve anytime soon regardless of the changes Manmohan Singh makes in his council of ministers.
The inertia that has come to grip governance must be addressed quickly as questions staring India in the face cannot await answers, given their long term implications for our economy, national security and parliamentary democracy.
Our western neighborhood is in flames; international powers are reneging on sovereign assurances for transfer of nuclear know-how. Either challenge is crucial to India’s standing in the world, its security and its economy, quite central to which is energy security. Long overdue systemic changes such as the institution of a Lok Pal and other mechanisms to check corruption and ensure transparency need a national consensus that finds forceful expression in parliament.
That’s too much of a tall order for a discredited regime low on confidence and facing an Opposition whose adversarial approach border on enmity. If the drift continues unabated, a government of national consensus will be the only way to steer India out of the prevailing mess.
I say this because elections— even in the outside chance of being held early— are unlikely to throw up a stable arrangement. Political parties have to place limits on partisan politics and learn to work with each other —- a proposition easier made than achieved amid the obtaining conflict of interest.
How can it be made possible? I cannot think of a fool-proof option. Perhaps the two largest parties in Parliament holding the PM’s office or leading the government by rotation could be a model that’ll last five or ten years.
The politico might lack the consciousness and the ability to make any such bipartisan arrangement work. But India needs it for radical policy initiatives and systemic overhaul.
Remember the Bollywood classic that made Indians hum in unison some decades ago: “Chodo kal ki baten, kal ki baat purani….Naye daur me likhkhen ge hum milkar naye kahani, hum Hindustanti, hum Hindustani….”