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 Principles of Politics
Political crisis: Need to snap out of denial
The Indian Express, India Monday, August 9, 2010

Pratap Bhanu Mehta
India shows inability to take advantage of the propitious political circumstances in Bangladesh. The Government is unable to inspire confidence and curb corruption and wastage of resources. The Prime minister can't deliver on any of his serious promises. There is no possibility of a liberal India. Politics is about evasion of responsibility, writes Pratap Bhanu Mehta in The Indian Express.


Although the challenges posed by Pakistan are beyond the control of this government, its inability to swiftly take advantage of the propitious political circumstances in Bangladesh is sending disastrous signals: India is a power that cannot be respected. The modest gains that resulted from welfare outlays have long been dissipated by inflation. There is an odour of corruption and callous squandering of resources on so many fronts. Despite an opposition teetering on the brink of ideological and political bankruptcy, the government seems to be unable to muster confidence, resolve or far-sighted imagination.

There are many sources of discontent. But the structure of government is adding considerable fuel to the fire. A lot of attention has been focused on the fact that the prime minister has very little authority to deliver on any promises he makes. The elements of his larger vision for the region have much to recommend them. But there is not a single serious political promise on which he can deliver.


The prime minister had a vision of looking at India’s challenges through a lens that was larger than the narrow-minded and self-defeating vision of security specialists. But the opposite has happened. There has been virtually no movement on that single most visible symbol of the oppression and marginalisation of Indian citizens: the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Instead, the prime minister’s vision now lies buried under the dominance of a paranoid security state that may allow us to win small tactical battles against terrorists, but at the cost of making us feel more insecure and vulnerable at the hands of the state.

The promise of a liberal India is slowly dying. How much authority do you think the Indian state will carry, how will it be distinguished from two-bit authoritarian regimes, if its citizens have no privacy rights whatsoever, if BlackBerry, Facebook and mobile services are denied to millions of its citizens, if its visa policies get more draconian by the day?


Good politics is the art of conflict management; good politicians are masters at reconciling differences, inspiring trust. You often see the spectacle of the indefatigable Pranab Mukherjee fighting one fire after another. But it points to a deep problem the Congress has: it has no genuine politicians left. Sonia Gandhi has authority. But it has to be said that this is an authority studiously cultivated by distance and by avoiding issues that truly matter; its sole concern seems to be that no shadow is cast on her power. But this is not political capital that is ever used for resolving tricky national issues.


This is diminishing the ability of the government to do anything imaginative. It is also founded on the illusion that politics can be detached from policy. Andhra should have taught the Congress the lesson how quickly it can become vulnerable because of casual political judgments. But exempting Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi from serious political responsibility is beginning to extract a toll. It is letting the Congress get away with the illusion that the hubris, callousness, even charges of corruption that are now sullying the party will somehow not affect its core image. It is as if in case the Commonwealth Games turn out to be a bit of a financial scandal, it has nothing to do with the party as such. Second, it has created a political culture where Congress politicians always seem stuck in a nether zone: many are smart, have independent ideas, but are simply unable to move. And it has sent a message: the purpose of politics is not solving problems; it is the evasion of responsibility.

This article was published in the The Indian Express on Monday, August 9, 2010. Please read the original article here.
Author : Dr Mehta is the president of Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi.
Tags- Find more articles on - Manmohan singh | pakistan | politics

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