Every country gets the government that it deserves. Today when general elections are around three months away, we the people of India seem to be completely at ease with a ringside view of the daily Tu Tu Mein Mein shrill that goes on in the name of election pitch. In the process core issues that should engage the national debate gets lost in the din.
What are the core issues and challenges before this nation of 1.2 billion with a burgeoning youth power that has the potential of rich demographic dividends? There is no rocket science. Most of us know what these are.
- Conducive growth environment
- Employment Opportunities
- Social Security which includes health services and sanitation
- Quality and affordable education system that includes vocational skill sets
- Rule of law and Internal Security
- Improvement in Transparency and Governance related issues including institutionalization of processes
- People’s empowerment- premium on innovation and enterprise
- Rapid development in social and physical infrastructure etc.
— Srivatsan V (@IamSrivatsanV) February 22, 2014
This is an illustrative list not exhaustive. Needless to add once these issues get addressed, India can compare favorably with the developed nations. However, none of the political parties seem to have adequate thought on the core issues to take the nation forward– there could also be doubt whether they understand the challenges before the nation and the way forward. Policy making is a serious business and needs lot of hard work, analytical skills and needs clarity of vision to carry it forward. Our politicians may be good vote getters by various appeals- caste/ community/ religion/secular etc but few would pass the crucial test of being a nation builder. To recall things in proper perspective, India has been ranked 136 among 187 countries evaluated for human development index (HDI) released recently in November 2013 which takes into account assessing progress in life expectancy, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living or gross national income per capita. The Transparency International’s December 2013 Global corruption perception index India ranks India. 94th among 177 nations.
We regularly receive progress cards showing our failure on various fronts. The best response we have is a sense of indignation initially to be taken over later by a complete resignation- sab chalta hai. Unfortunately, it does not arouse our collective conscience enough to ask for accountability and performance by our leaders. There is nobody else to blame for this sorry state of affairs. We the electors have not been articulate in expressing our Agenda. In its absence, politicians carry on their agenda – more of rhetoric, freebies etc which have instant mass appeal rather than going through serious debate. Winning votes- by hook and more by crook is the Mantra. In India tomorrow is another day. Our collective shortsightedness is jeopardizing the long future in every field.
India’s infrastructure growth has been suffering due to policy paralysis. We have (RTE) in place but the quality of education is poor. — Ramesh Wangnoo (@RWangnoo) February 22, 2014
Against this background, where stands the winner? India is a great nation and has a great potential. But where is the great idea that will drive India to rise up on core issues listed in the opening paragraph? And how can national debate graduate to higher levels. Anti- Congressism or Anti- Communalism or Anti- Congress/BJPism makes good decibel level. But India needs more concrete debate and action plan on growth, employment, institutional framework, academic excellence, infrastructure and better governance and an effective non-discriminatory rule of law. Voters instead of making a beeline to rallies- paid or otherwise should better be active in raising the issues at stake instead of hearing routine clichés apparently to quick fix all problems. Vote for a party that has a clear road map on transforming India and taking it to greater heights in its manifesto and demonstrates commitment to it in letter and spirit.
The days of old tricks of winning elections are over. A Young and aspiring India deserves better. According a recent Government report the unemployment rate in the country during 2012-13 was estimated to be 13.3 per cent for the age group 15-29. One out of every three persons in the age group 15 to 29 years who have completed at least their graduation has been found to be unemployed. The GDP growth has nosedived below 5%. This will further shrink available opportunities. Add to it, each passing day brings in new tragedy in the form of gender/ racial/communal/sectarian violence. It is a national shame that after nearly two third century of a free India, over 600 million people or 53 per cent of Indian households defecating in the open as per a recent World Bank report. This does not bother the political class and nobody speaks much of a zero tolerance towards this. What we are promised instead, is having world’s largest statue/memorial by one Government followed by a neighboring one promising something still taller. In an environment of competitive populism, core issues that need serious thought is unceremoniously relegated to the background.
Sehzade- Sahabzade duel may have all the ingredients of a saas-bahu sitcom and keep people glued to the political theater, but that cannot pass the test of a serious political engagement and fulfill dreams of the teeming millions who struggle daily with belied expectations.
By Hari Hara Mishra
Image Source: By Defined by the Indian government as national emblem (www.supremecourtofindia.nic.in) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons