India continues to be a distracted nation. Courtesy it's various governments and politicians. The never-ending debate (and every news headline) within India remains about who is the best political party to "rule" the nation and its various states and territories. No one, it seems, stands back to think about what's the best way to "run" the Indian nation. To make it a more liveable nation for its own citizens.
Elected governments, once in power, must prioritise the welfare and upliftment of all citizens. Their policymaking and governance must be transparent, fair and accountable. That is what constitutes good governance. Governments, after all, are chosen by the people to work for the people.
Once in power, governments shift the agenda from good public policy to bickering, back-stabbing and mud-slinging.
The Indian way, however, is a bit different. Once in power, governments in this large nation get busy with offloading a truckload of distractions, they dumb down any debates (better still, avoid them all together), shun accountability. They shift the agenda from good public policy to bickering, back-stabbing and mud-slinging within the political ranks.
This way serves our politicians well. The national agenda (and the spotlight) is conveniently shifted from their performance and that of their respective governments (or the lack of). Caught up in the outrageous volley of words between various political parties, the Indian public is robbed of any meaningful attempt by the government to enhance their living standards. At the grassroots level, a large majority of people continue to remain vulnerable, disadvantaged and unaware of their basic rights and entitlements.
And here-in lies what should be the bigger "national agenda". The debt-ridden farmers, the down-trodden, the minorities at risk, the toils and challenges of the massive Indian middle class, sustainable infrastructure, environment, affordable and adequate healthcare, jobs and trades. These are the matters that must be debated, discussed, and resolved. In earnest. Not mere lip-service to keep the vote banks interested.
The governments, and sadly most of the media, in India tend to sensationalise these important matters.
The media, for a few days, grabs a headline and spins it into a "top-story". In panel after panel, they front up scholars, analysts and politicians to dissect the misery of ordinary citizens. Verdicts are speculated over, history is quoted and opinions fired like salvos. Makes great prime time strategy for a news channel that has to operate 24 hours a week. And then, the stories cease to "trend". So they move on. In search of a "new top story". The one that will "trend".
[T]o bring about a change, ordinary citizens must take ownership of their challenges and problems. They must guard against outsourcing their rights to a handful of people...
The governments are not that different. The tales of misfortune and hardship of Indian citizens are often raised in the various "parliaments" across the country. A passionate debate erupts between the "honourable" elected members of these parliaments. And before you know it, our elected political representatives are embroiled in a rowdy shouting match. A real monkey contest to score political points. Unadulterated political opportunism at the cost of the welfare and well-being of the very people who elected them to be in that parliament.
And amongst all this high-profile noise and eternal conundrums, the status quo of the ordinary citizens stands undisturbed. India continues to run at the mercy of these callous and self-indulgent "leave-it-all-to-us" politicians and media outlets.
So how shall this landscape change for better?
Well, to bring about a change, ordinary citizens must take ownership of their challenges and problems. They must guard against outsourcing their rights to a handful of people, who when elected, are beyond approach anyway.
India needs a mindset change. A revolution, of sorts. Right through to its grassroots.
Citizens, each and every one of them, should be made aware of their fundamental rights under their Constitution. Governments run on "taxpayer" monies. Money that is contributed by the working individuals of the nation. So every Indian must be empowered to seek an explanation of how their money is being spent by their government/s. And people mustn't rely on news channels to ask these questions. They should demand platforms at local levels for their representatives to front up and answer all such queries. Underperformers must be held to task. Once again, not by the media, but by the citizens.
Communal and religious segregations hold back India as well. Rioting and lynching only further disadvantages the citizens. The politicians, on the contrary, flourish on the back of such divisions. Somehow, India needs to wake up to some form of concerted harmony. Break these primitive shackles of "intolerance", and march ahead. Unified, and united.
Indians have managed such change in the past. It started in 1857 and took a bloody long time. But the change and the freedom were attained.
It's a tough ask. But it's not impossible. As clichéd as it may sound, there is merit in the dictum that we must "be the change that we seek".
Governments may change every five years, but changing the collective mindset of the biggest democracy in the world will take time. The turnstiles of change have to be set into motion though. Pronto. One step at a time. There will be setbacks. There will be a backlash. There will be resistance. But if Indians get serious about such change, it will happen.
And for anybody who doubts me on this, let me remind you that Indians have managed such change in the past. It started in 1857 and took a bloody long time. But the change and the freedom were attained.
The only difference this time around is that, unfortunately, the oppression is from within, and inflicted by a handful of fellow Indians.
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