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Friday, April 12, 2013

Politics: The Appalling Insensitivity!


The ‘of the people, for the people and by the people’ of democracy has been fast reduced to a myth, and the emerging truth being ‘of the politicians, for the politicians and by the politicians’. We have seen public eruptions of ire against the politicians regularly over the years in various parts of India, but the politicians remained stoic, incorrigible, uncaring as ever, and active in their usual way. Two recent instances just prove the point on democracy.

Firstly, the western state of Maharashtra has been facing the worst drought in forty years and the accompanying crisis of load shedding has made life difficult for the farmers. In a situation like this when immediate relief was the basic need, none other than the Deputy Chief Minister (DCM) of the state—Ajit Pawar—in a public rally recently chose to ridicule a fasting farmer by uttering that it was pointless to demand release of water from the dams since most of them were running dry, and even urinating in the dams would not solve the problem because without drinking water it was hard to do that. As some of the audience laughed largely due to servility, the Minister got bolder and his darkest of dark humor vented itself on the problem of load shedding too. The atrociously humorous politician opined that thanks to the long dark hours in the powerless nights the birth of children increased, because, the erudite leader added, people naturally had no other ‘work’ to do.

Following a national outrage the DCM apologized and admitted it was the biggest mistake of his political career. However, the opposing politicians got another opportunity to do politics and stall the proceedings of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for days demanding resignation of the DCM. Farmers of Maharashtra responded by holding protest rallies and burning of effigies.

Secondly, the North Eastern state of Assam has been under the absolute siege of illegal Syndicates for over a decade now. The politicians there feigned ignorance of the very existence of the Syndicates all the time and… suddenly there was action.

The Syndicate is not exactly a cartel and it is closer to being a mafia. Criminal minded people blessed as ever by the politicians constitute a Syndicate by taking in businesspersons and dealers of everyday commodities like fish, eggs and vegetables. The criminals extort money from the members assuring them of protection from any government action or income tax raids or other calamities. Leaving the Syndicate is dangerous and there was one case where the defecting businessperson was murdered. The protection money allegedly benefits all the politicians, agents and bureaucrats and the common buyers already under raging inflation suffer more in terms of artificially increased prices as the extorted money is always passed over to the customers.

Suddenly the Government of Assam cracked down on the illegal Syndicates and arrested one criminal who progressed from a poor vendor to a millionaire in quick time running his Syndicate on vegetables. The crackdown continued, but the people were not happy even as prices of many items actually fell particularly in a time of the Spring Festival or Rongali Bihu. They saw through the government action. There was a crisis of dissidence in the government with negotiations not leading to a solution. So then, all the Syndicates that were affected by the government action allegedly benefited the dissident politicians ranging from Ministers to Members of the Assembly.

Kaziranga National Park in Assam has the largest share of the great one-horned rhinoceroses of the world and Assam is proud to have the rhino as the state symbol. Therefore, it is only natural that politicians there develop rhino skin and become oblivious of all problems related to the common human beings.

In a way, Indian politicians do differ in terms of party ideologies or manifestos, but they always pursue their objectives unitedly. That is to say, in the largest democracy.
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