Banana Republic, a term often applied to India, is only half truth in describing the real state of affairs. The term originally refers to an oligarchy or plutocracy running a country in collusion with large private business enterprises for profit. India could be conceived of as an oligarchy pejoratively considering a single party has been ruling the country almost major period since independence. However, they were not self elected but chosen through democratic means. The second part, however, of collusion with private enterprises, is largely true. This adds another peculiar problem to the table. The person governing the country is actually not the one elected by the people but has been ‘appointed’ by a party leader. What kinds of democratic rights does this person have and how is the governing actually taking place, especially with the ‘appointed’ leader having to face and defend the criticisms from the media and the party leader, who is considered to ‘actually’ run the country not having any such democratic duties!
Simply put, there’s no decent English word to describe the current phenomenon of governance in India. The term ‘puppet regime’ is to narrow and too derogatory a term and we’re looking for a one with ‘cracy’ ending.
To be fair, this government is run be an able administrator. Rarely have we seen a government run by a Scholar from Oxbridge being ridiculed, however unfavourably, as a ‘puppet regime’. Rarely also, have we seen an Oxbridge trained Scholar heading the most corrupt regime in the history of independent India.
Considering the weak and divisive nature of the opposition and the perceived ‘untouchability’ of BJP, there is no doubt that Congress will win again. And that victory will be touted as a vindication of all these corruption charges. Again new corruption charges will emerge and Sonia Gandhi will again travel to European countries under mysterious circumstances and leaving this Scholar to face the media and the people in his now-famed indecisive spurts of address.
If this is the state of the government, the so-called Civil Society is comprised of members too idealistic to believe that a stronger law leads to stronger society. They want the strongest possible law to combat corruption. They believe that corruptible people who are ubiquitous in India, who flout every law of the land in the country to their benefit, will not misuse the anti-corruption law. This appalling naivety is compounded by their despicable hunger for publicity which gave way to one of the most absurd slogans ever heard in the east – Anna is India and India is Anna.
If this is the state of affairs with the Civil Society, the state of opposition appears even more deplorable. It now looks like, to BJP, that Modi is India and India is Modi. Or more precisely Gujarat is India and India is Gujarat. They are too caught up with trying to protect Modi from various onslaughts and very often crying foul at the media and the central government of targeting Modi. The Centre is indeed targeting Modi and trying to find ways to trap him. But then that’s what they are supposed to do. Crying indignantly that ‘Snake is venomous’ is not going to change the biological nature of the reptile. Especially today’s government, with little reputation to lose, might go out on an all out war on Modi. Their retributory aggression is being evident in the actions against Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra, Reddy brothers in Karnataka, Modi in Gujarat and of course actions against Baba Ramdev and other Civil Society members. Why, of all the people arrested and all the people on whom charge-sheets are filed, not a single Congress member is present is a mystery to which we will never have an answer.
But how is all this affecting today’s India? A certain number of actions, however partial, can bring ill-repute to the fragile democracy we have. It has already made the dent to the system. We mock, ridicule, caricature and despise our politicians. We do not trust them. We think they are the reason for all the illnesses that are plaguing our country. We do not, for a moment, think we could be part of the illness. We bribe and solicit bribes. We exploit our employers for allowances. We disregard our public places. We celebrate our corrupt relatives who have ‘made it’ in their life and deride the ‘honest’ ones. However, we think that removing a couple of ministers from their portfolio will somehow, magically, cleanse the nation.
How far are we from thinking that all our politicians need to be removed? And then who will come? How many people think that a military regime would solve our countries problems, raise your hands?
So are we slowly but inexorably sliding towards becoming another Pakistan? Where the people are corrupt to the core but slap all the blame on their countries politicians, much to the convenience of their military leaders; where they long for ‘honest’ and ‘strong’ governance but do everything to prevent it from happening?
The solution does not lie in dismissing Dayanidhi Maran or even Manmohan Singh. Sonia Gandhi is not the personification of all evil in this country, although she could claim quite an extent of credit for the shambles that we are in today. Having said that, we don’t need villains to put things in perspective. This does not take the ‘everybody is bad’ tone, which, according to me, is the laziest and most dangerous attitude to take. So, having said that, our question is: is cleaner autocracy better than corruptible democracy?