basic right

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 31 Jul 2018 11:53:53

THOUGH many before him might have said it, Mr. Narendra Modi must be the first Prime Minister to make an assertive statement that good governance -- Suraaj -- is the birth right of every citizen and he or she must have it. As he shared his thoughts with the people in his popular Mann Ki Baat programme, Mr. Modi recalled how Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tikal asserted that Swaraaj was his birth-right and he would have it, and then asserted, suraaj is now the latest mantra. 

Even though he talked of the new mantra very assertively, Mr. Modi is fully aware of the toughness of the challenge of providing the people a truly good governance -- Suraaj. In the given situation in the country, in the given political atmosphere in India, in the twisted public discourse in the larger Indian society, the challenge of providing suraaj is far more difficult than we can imagine. When almost every segment of the society is insisting upon a complete fulfillment of its demands, no matter their nature, then the quality of governance is bound to decline. For, there is no official system anywhere in the world that would satisfy every demand of every interest group. But the plebiscitary nature of Indian politics has stretched things to such a dirty extent as to make it impossible for any Government to conduct its business of administration and governance smoothly.

One of the latest examples of the helplessness of the Government is of the acceptance of the demand by Maharashtra Chief Minister Mr. Devendra Fadnavis that the State would withdraw, at least partially, the cases against those who indulged in violence during the agitation for Maratha reservation. It is obvious that such a demand is totally unconstitutional, whether it comes up in one case in Maharashtra or in other cases elsewhere. Yet, time and again, the people witness the scenario of the Government agreeing to withdraw criminal cases against the people who have been found guilty of undesirable acts that hurt the overall well being of the society. So much for good governance!

If this is the case of defiance of the principle of good governance by the people asking for concessions even in criminal cases, then there is another side that concerns the corrupt practices the people in power follow for whatever reasons. These practices, too, destroy the idea of good governance based on principle of equality, justice, and accommodation. All these aspects stem, however, from only one attribute of our larger society -- absence of character and integrity. No matter the political tall talk, the hard reality on the ground is that the larger Indian society -- that is the people and their rulers and administrators -- have moved far away from the idealism that is so necessary to offer a truly good governance -- suraaj -- to the country.

It is likely that the people in Opposition may use this assertion by us as a tool with which to beat the current Government. But let us remind them again and again that the overall degeneration of the cultural and ethical integrity of the Indian society has stemmed mostly from the rulers -- of any colour and creed -- whose morality has been suspect not for now but for decades. In such a situation, it is only fruitless to expect good governance to dawn upon the society all of a sudden.

There is no doubt that Mr. Modi is aware of this reality in totality. In his own way, he has tried to give to the country good governance based on transparency and openness of systems which he is trying to achieve through digitisation and other technological tools. The problem, however, is that in a country as vast as India and in a society as complex as the one in India, any effort to offer good governance will take a very long time for fruition. And that is the actual problem in an impatient society. For any ruler, this is an untenable situation.