Thursday, December 1, 2011

The rise of Anna and fall of political class

Last couple of days, India has seen some high voltage drama. It's not that India has not seen this kind of momentum in the past. Be it Jessica Lal murder case or winning of world cup, Indian has shown it's moment of grief and joy. But what happened recently is unprecedented.
After independence, the political class and the ruling establishment has become arrogant with time. The unfettered power and no obligation to anyone, made the arrogance just more pronounced. It's true that at individual levels, the arrogance has been pulled down by election defeats, but the replacement was not lesser arrogant. The absence of any credible replacement made things worse. It did not matter, which party is ruling and who sits in opposition. The color of the kurta remained same. However the recent corruption events made things worse. They brought the things at a tipping point. The vacuum created for a creditable representation of sentiments of common man just became stronger.
Anna's first round of anshan showed the taste of power that the common man can yield. First time in a long time, government and the political class was forced to talk to common man. However when Baba Ramdev's anshan was successfully tackled, the political class just became more arrogant. They thought of dealing with Anna's anshan with same high handedness. However they did not realized that now they are playing with the sentiments of people and not recognizing the fact that people are just fed of the mockery that the political class everyday does. With one master stroke, government lost all the movements in the chess. They have to retreat at every step. I am using political class because it's not the relevant names that are important in this context. This would have happened, irrespective of which party or people would have been on the ruling side. What the political class lacks, at the moment is the will to change and good intentions. They are ruling country on the premises of doing political arithmetic. They are not ruling the country for providing good governance.
What the political class has done is going to make them suffer for a long time to come. This is going to reverberate in many elections to come. It has emphasized the fact that the ruling establishment including all its political elements need to respect the ethos of man on street. You can play with it to an extent only. The interesting thing is not what happened, but what is going to unfold in next couple of days and months. It's for sure going to change the flavor of democracy.
Unfortunately the ruling establishment is again running out of time by doing talks on the venue and duration of anshan. They are still not realizing that they need to tackle the bigger issue of the how to handle the Jan Lokpal issue, which they will have to soon handle in next couple of days. And the problem is that the government will be again forced to handle that. A smart government, would immediately start the process of broadening the forum of discussion on the issue of Jan Lokpal. This will give them the political mileage also. But they are so much tired with the recent failures that it seems the thinking power has gone out of them. The ruling establishment should understand that finally they will have to relent to the emotions of people. If they are forced to do it, they loose the political creditability also. If they do it in a manner which shows them as sensitive people, it is going to help them only. Unfortunately the only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn anything. The problem with political class is that most of them, who are in power had their last touch with people on street is at least a decade old. After that they have shielded themselves behind the security cordons and air conditioned rooms. They still think of the common man as someone who can be lured by hollow promises or for a pouch of liquor. Please realize that most of these households have grown up kids, who are educated and also shape the thinking of their parents. They are more analytical and knowledgeable. Accept the change and history will talk about you in good terms. Otherwise, we will repeat the history. The government should also realize that no one is questioning the supremacy of Parliament, not even Anna. I have heard it getting clearly stated by Anna. Do not hide yourself behind vague reasoning and police in uniform. Come forward and tackle it with grace and sensitivity.
In general, we have seen the same trend around the world. The political class has brought the people's patience at tipping points. I think, this is what any mode of governing systems would have done. This happened with autocracy and now happening with democracy. In years to come, we might be seeing democracy changing its forms in some way and hopefully in a better way.

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