Collective maturity and good sense
In politics, the cavalier approach that has been chosen by certain leaders, will no longer work. Election results have emphatically sent out this crisp message
Any group, community, or for that matter even a nation, moves on the basis of collective good sense and a sense of balanced maturity. No set of statutes, rules or regulations can be all-pervasive and comprehensive enough to cover every eventuality and possibility. It is the the quality of response to the problems of the day, issues which need responding to and how the future gets handled, that is critical. The unwritten practices contribute hugely in shaping of things and processes.
Taking stock of the national scene, there are areas which evoke confidence and there are ones that need improvement. Free India has shown its capacity to deliver by the successful Green Revolution; the chain of vibrant industries; the institutions of all India importance in the field of medicine, technology, management, general education and more. It is not only the public sector which has proved its mettle but also the enterprise of individuals and the private sector that have blossomed forth. The number of business houses which transited into independent India and the number of Business houses which sprouted in Independent India are a testimony to the talent and enterprise of the nation.
The indicative references, selective as they are, in the preceding lines, will not be complete in any sense unless reference is also made to the robust media we have in all its incarnations. The judiciary at each level has by and large acquitted itself gloriously and the stock exchanges have provided the central nervous system of keeping the financial world moving and ticking. To complete the list may be impossible, but no such enumeration is conceivable without a reference to the institution of the Election Commission of India.
The ECI has had the extraordinary fortune of being led by credible people of enviable integrity and having provided the framework of channelising the choices of the world's most populist democracy. Its credibility has been almost universally acknowledged, and it is with a sense of humility that we remind ourselves that we have also exported the system to those who sought to learn from our experience.
In such a backdrop, when loose comments are made about the election process by people who have held or hold responsible constitutional positions, the time may have come to nip this tendency at its inception. Reference has been made earlier to the worth of the media, implying there by that we are amongst the few countries in the world where there is genuine freedom of expression. However, this genuine freedom of expression cannot be converted into a licence to expression of thought processes which strike at the vitals of nationhood or for that matter even commonsense credibility.
Making allegations may be part of the political tool-kit. However, this tool-kit cannot be allowed to become an instrument of opinion which, prima facie, look self-serving and without a shred of verifiable evidence. One or two opinion leaders have attempted to put some tentative figures in the public domain to raise questions. They are neither conclusive nor likely to have happened; if they happened at all, through the only route of tampering alone.
The time has come to create a climate where such statements are eliminated to the extent possible. This would be only fair to our national culture of good sense and sober thinking.
Many would have noticed how very little or practically no mudslinging is done by public figures or otherwise on account of personal lifestyles, experiences or choices. This is a welcome recognition of the privacy of personal life and how they cannot be made a factor of public debate. The conscious choices of adults on their private lifestyles have to be respected. Much in the same way, any questioning of institutional fair play in matters of election or otherwise needs to be subjected to the highest standards of self-control and social responsibility.
The time has come for all those who have stepped out of the Lakshman rekha in this regard to, immediately, do some introspection and ask the basic question: Whose interest will be served by this kind of cavalier approach. After all, we are all in the same boat.
(The writer is senior managing director and principal econnomic advisor, Protiviti India Member Pvt Ltd)
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