The sad lampoonery of Indian democracy

Even a peon in a bank needs to pass his high school certificate to secure his job. To lead the nation, all you need is demagoguery and charisma, doesn’t matter if you are competent or not

Representative image
Representative image

Sujata Anandan

Kashmir is a mere 500-odd km from Afghanistan. China has already recognised the Taliban which is a creation of Pakistan. Now if there were to be a China-Pakistan-Afghanistan nexus how many Indians have the confidence that this government will be able to save and rescue Indian territory that is being eyed by both China and Pakistan for years?

The Ladakh experience does not engender any faith in me in the competence of the Narendra Modi government which has already messed up Kashmir, has no guts to take on China, while frequently asking common people to go to Pakistan kowtowed to not just one but two Pakistani prime ministers (first with a birthday cake, then with a very obsequious “your excellency" which was not needed among equals) and is generally clueless about how to now deal with Afghanistan.

I am not among those who would urge any government to deal with the Taliban. I have still not forgotten the hijack of the Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar and the rank incompetence with which a far more competent government than that of Narendra Modi dealt with the issue. I have never heard anything as absurd and appalling as a foreign minister of any nation accompanying terrorists to their release, terrorists who later killed a foreign journalist on Pakistani soil.

But more incompetent than that was allowing the plane to fly away from Amritsar when it could easily have been held back on Indian territory and, like at Entebbe in Uganda, if Israeli defence forces could successfully carry out a hostage rescue operation on a not very friendly territory, India could very well have done so on its own. Yet even the only other BJP government in the country proved as much of a failure as this one.

To that extent, I am amazed by the level of incompetence and incompetents in the BJP-RSS which pitches itself as a party of intellectuals. Even before the Modi era it had the propensity to break professors, doctors, armymen etc from civil society to their cause. One of these was a bureaucrat -- Yashwant Sinha – in the finance ministry. Yet one of the top editors in this country described him as the worst finance minister India had ever had. That now seems such a misjudgement after Arun Jaitley and Nirmala Sitharaman, two top intellectuals of the BJP, occupied that August office.

Then we have Dr Harshvardhan, a trained medical practitioner, who was completely defeated in the management of the Covid crisis and the vaccination policy. Then, of course, there is General VK Singh whose claim to fame was an attempt to hang on to office on the grounds of his age and who kept putting his foot in his mouth as a minister until his bosses shut him up effectively.

But what I now find most dangerous is that two career diplomats in this government, S. Jaishankar and Hardeep Puri (whose incompetence was visible even during his service when he handed the wrong speech to India’s foreign minister SM Krishna at the United Nations) are as clueless as the most unlettered or uneducated of Individuals.

Sushma Swaraj, even if her role was reduced to that of a Mother Teresa rescuing Indian citizens stuck in war zones abroad, conducted herself with far more competence than the current man who has reduced India’s carefully worked out relations with its neighbours to a travesty – earlier only Pakistan was hostile, now every nation, including the very friendly Nepal looks upon us with suspicion, and along with Sri Lanka, seeking ties with China.

The ties with the US and Europe are at a very low ebb, the German chancellor thinks little of the Indian prime minister, the British prime minister turned down an invitation to visit India, albeit under the guise of the Covid crisis but the issue then was not serious enough not to merit a limited diplomatic visit, the French have instituted an investigation into corruption in a deal with India and our vaccination policy has upset many African and West Asian nations to the extent they may affect international co-operation in other areas of India's need.

Even the Japanese, who began as the Modi government's friend, have cooled off over the mess made in the bullet train project and, of course, there is not much to be said even over their pet project of the Ram temple which is now riddled with corruption, land grab issues and a bitter fight for ownership between the Modi-Shah duo on the one hand and Yogi Adityanath on the other.

The RSS which had claimed it could ready its forces within three days to fight at the borders with all the resources of the government at its disposal has not been able to even undertake a simple rescue operation of Indians in Afghanistan which, as usual, has been done by the Indian Air Force and Air India. I recall another rescue operation in Iraq accomplished indiscriminately with such ease in an era before social media that almost no one noticed except for the post-operation news reports.

It is despicable of this government to say they will rescue only Sikhs and Hindus – there are many Indian citizens in Afghanistan who are Muslim and they deserve to be evacuated as much as the others. But what does one expect from a government whose other pet projects-- the abrogation of Article 370 and the Citizenship law, implemented with no application of mind-- have been equal failures, as were the demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax?

Whatever the accusations against the UPA government, I would have been more confident with a Salman Khursheed as our foreign minister or P. Chidambaram as our finance or home minister at these times of crisis. In fact, I recall the late BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan once openly admitting to journalists that they did not have too many competent people in their party and would like to appoint either Chidambaram or Dr Manmohan Singh as their finance minister, but neither was interested in associating with the BJP.

That is the sad state of India today. Even a peon in a bank needs to pass his high school certificate to secure his job. To lead the nation, all you need is demagoguery and charisma – who cares if you are educated or competent or not and if you are putting your education to good use.

I cry for my beloved country. India did not deserve this lampoonery of democracy.

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