The continuing, non-stop saga of political scandals in India involving the government and the main ruling party is wearing people down. There are huge problems all around the world currently – the revolutions in the Middle East, the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, the Nuclear Crisis in Japan, the Libyan Crisis where the government is bombing its own citizens, et al. But, in India we are seeing only two things mainly – the Cricket World Cup which keeps people focused on sports and TV, and their minds away from the political scandals, which is the second thing !
Couple of days ago, a new scandal broke: this time it was the Wikileaks Diplomatic Cables from the U.S. embassy in New Delhi which were published in The Hindu newspaper. It was shocking to learn that a senior party leader from the ruling party boasted to the visiting embassy official that they were ready with cash to be paid to opposition party members of the Indian Parliament to facilitate positive votes for the “No-Confidence Motion” against the Government which was then fighting for its survival, in relation to the Indo-U.S. Nuclear Deal. Cash was apparently transacted in huge numbers and the U.S. embassy official was shown some USD 10 – 12M in Indian Rupees ready to be disbursed.
I am unable to believe that our party folks would be so foolish to show off what they were doing to a foreign country’s official. There was absolutely no need to do so, even if the actual fact on the ground were true as alleged.
Comin on the backdrop of a series of scandals, the UPA Government at the Centre is finding it extremely difficult to explain its stand. The response of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was not deemed to be satisfactory – he said that having been elected by the people of India, he did not see a need to defend against what he said were totally false allegations. This was not considered to be appropriate by most political commentators in the media, and neither do I agree that it was the right thing to say, even by an embattled Prime Minister. Being elected to govern a country is not a license to engage in illegal activities, or permit others in the party (knowingly or unknowingly) to engage in such morally reprehensible activities. Investigation is required and it was not done.
The pity is that the citizenry is ignoring all these scandals and moving on with their economic lives. In my opinion, none of the major scandals over the past 6 months have had a major impact on the society, which has, unfortunately, come to accept these escapades as “pretty normal” in Indian Politics. Given the nonchalance of the population, there is unlikely to be any major revolutionary changes in the way India governs itself.
Of course, there is a silver lining, and that is the Supreme Court of India. Without their activism and intervention, India would have denigrated into a total mess and even compromised its own national security (witness the 2G Telecom Scam). Now that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is virtually under the control of the Supreme Court and not under its political masters, truths would have to tumble out and more damaging revelations are to be expected, and we can expect some convictions eventually.
The ignorance of the young with respect to what is going on could have serious implications in the next elections and the positive ability of the political parties to continue engaging in illicit deals, irrespective of any controlling or supervisory developments. That is most unfortunate because economic growth without morals and inclusion is not going to work on a sustainable long-term basis for any nation.
19th March 2011