Monday, July 26, 2021

Cheer leaders

It is sad to note that our institutions may really not be as strong or foolproof as we would like to believe. The reputation of the executive as a whole has been in tatters for as long as we care to remember; our legislature has converted itself into a blurred vision, unresponsive to all attempts to restore it to good health. Cheer leaders have taken over the chambers where once resonated the voices of reason and good governance, the voices like those of Nehru, Patel, H V Kamath, etc. Unheard of precedents are being set by all the institutions as if responding to some mysterious conductor out to sound the last post of the Indian polity. The judiciary with due apologies to the learned judges has become less inspiring than it may once have been. And no one in particular appear interested in pulling up the reins. The Election Commission which had survived the many threats to its independence is slipping downhill. The Commission appears to have chosen to give the Nelson’s eye to some gross violations of the prevailing law or healthy precedent by appearing to be hell-bent on kowtowing with the powers that be. The newly constituted Lokpal or Chief Vigilance Commissioner finding himself and his entire crew accommodation in a five star hotel taking the cake and with some robust ale too. The Lok Pal is said to supervise the conduct of bureaucratic India is setting a new moral tone for their functioning. And lo and behold, the Chief Justice of India is made to cut an uneasy figure as a woman employee, formerly working for him, alleges that she wasn’t quite up to the advances made towards her by the judge. It is just an allegation and for all one cares a frivolous and inspired one but just imagine the stink that is created. Of our politicians the less said the better. They have been on a rampage for years and never as fiercely as during the last three or four years – from Modiji down to Amit Shahji and Rahulji and our own Didiji from West Bengal. The apex court in a landmark judgment not so long ago described certain institutions in the country as the integrity institutions. Most important of these was the Election Commission wherein lies its exceptional importance, followed by the judiciary and other institutions drawing inspiration from the Constitution. Among these are the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, the CEC, the CAG, Chief Information Commissioner. The CEC is connected with our democratic well-being. Sadly its position now stands a bit diminished. Indeed the CVC, CAG, CIO too join the CEC in that they have all declined. The Election Commission had evolved the model code of conduct in consultation with the political parties for the smooth conduct of elections. It has been flouted at will and with impunity. A TV channel appeared one day from nowhere, no license required nor the restrictions other starters must face. The Election Commission’s advance permission had not been sought, not officially at least. No one stopped the channel from airing its unadulterated BJP propaganda. Belatedly after citizens and former bureaucrats raised its voice, the channel has now been stopped. The Governor of Rajasthan, Kalyan Singh, of Babri demolition fame, meanwhile opted to openly solicit support for Prime Minister Modi and yet again nothing happened apart from the relevant papers moving from one table to another. The Rajasthan Governor’s full throated endorsement of Modi, like the appearance of the new BJP channel (NAMO) may be in clear violation of the moral code of conduct but who cares as long as Modiji and Shahji are happy. And Rajnath is always around to offer an explanation, if needed. After all don’t forget that his government does believe that Modi’s lashkars performed better than Indira’s troops in Bangladesh. Remember Modi’s historic “surgical strikes” along the LOC and the lone-MIG attack on Balakot in Pakistan. That’s why HRD Ministry is keen to rewrite history.