Monday, July 15, 2024

Irresponsible people

Every society has its moments that galvanize far-reaching redeeming change. For instance, in other parts of India a spate of corruption scams in recent past engendered a spirited movement against corruption in the country. Sadly this is not so in our state where scams after scams have only deepened the cynicism rather than stir up a community response to the rot that engulfs us. Why is it so? It has to do, to a good extent, to our own resigned acceptance of corruption in our daily lives. For us, corruption is not simply about politicians and bureaucrats abusing power; it is also about ordinary people easily adapting these principles to their daily lives. Most of our people today have become selfish, superstitious, ignorant, supple, intriguing, dishonest, false-tongued, ready with a lie, and given to various forms of deceit. Corruption has become a normal part of our lives, so naturalized that we can’t imagine the other and more redeeming world can exist. The ‘bogus’ teachers’ scam or the government jobs for sale scams, among many others, were galling symptoms of this phenomenon. Our brush with corruption is decades old. But it appears corruption figures low down the order in the hierarchy of our collective concerns. The number one and the overriding concern by far has always been the disenchantment with political status quo. And this in turn has created a yawning gulf between government functioning and the people. While people may vote in the polls and take part in political rallies, a predominant majority hardly participates in the system. On the contrary, they wallow in a deeply cynical opinion about the establishment and whenever corruption cases – small, massive or the revolting – surface, they are seen more as a vindication of the popular perception about the system, rather than a reason to act and make a difference. And over the years this unwillingness to hold the system accountable or take some kind of a responsibility for it has impacted our society in profoundly detrimental ways. One, it has perpetuated in power an effete political class who enjoy only a fringe support or at best a mass backing by default. This class in turn has created a system of its own convenience with largely corrupt bureaucracy and the compromised institutions. What is more, unlike in the rest of India, there is no fear of accountability. A politician can get away with not only a scam of any scale but also moral indiscretions. Similarly bureaucratic corruption goes as a matter of course. New Delhi or the national media can’t care less as long as the reigning political order keeps the uneasy peace in the state. And the people generally don’t complain as in our state holding the system accountable is synonymous with accepting the political status quo or compromising with mainstream political narrative on the state. This approach has only created and entrenched a political and bureaucratic elite who benefit from and perpetuate the existing state of affairs. And one of the main tools of this self-preservation is corruption. In addition, they rig the system so that those not a part of this close incestuous segment do not rise the ladder behind them including even the most deserving. ‘Government jobs of sale’ was a classic illustration of this dubious situation. A corrupt politically patronized bureaucrat benefiting himself and his kin from his position of privilege, blocking the meritorious and deserving youth a chance to rise while the undeserving and unworthy buy their way through to important social roles. Is there a community or even a political way to alter this entrenched system without interfering with the parameters and premises of the ideological and popular antagonism to the mainstream political discourse? No such way exists in our society for now. But isn’t there a strong case to find such a way out? Or should we wait for our people to decide till some distant, unforeseeable future and until that happens reconcile with the status quo.