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WOLVES ON PROWL

By Shabbir Aariz

“A nation of sheep will soon have a government of wolves.” This was in-boxed by a friend to me the other day. This quote of Edward R. Murrow, born in the year 1908, died in 1965. Edward was an American broadcast journalist and war correspondent in world war 2nd for CBS. Whatever, I felt the quote ominous for the elections to 17th Lok Sabha are round the corner, hopefully to be held between April and May 2019 and expected are also the legislative assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Jammu and Kashmir simultaneously. Therefore, the political wrestlers have started to flex their muscle and obviously someone will make it to the parliament as has been happening in the elections hitherto. But the critical question is how the new dispensation shall deal with the challenges they are going to be faced with.

 

In the year 2014, when Modi was elected to power, while criticizing Congress for its policies, promised a transformational path to rapid development but that was not to be so. He finds himself in the same situation, which he put congress in. He is seen wanting on all fronts. There is increase in unemployment, farmers continue to suffer under debts and commit suicide, increase in crime, particularly against women with shocking statistics of rape while some put the percentage of unreported rapes between 50% to 90% and India ranks in top ten countries where every thirty minute, a rape is reported. And the centre of attention have been two statues, one of Shivaji costing thirty six hundred crores and of Sardar Patel raised at a cost of two thousand five hundred and twenty five crores. Investors are also seeking exit and an investment of over thirty thousand crores has already gone out of India. Foreign investors are feeling uncomfortable and find US a better place instead. So the overall trajectory is not an upward. Worse shocks are received in terms of foreign policy and relation with neighbours in the region. No doubt that with Pakistan, there have always been problems but the policy of the present government towards Pakistan is in complete comma while China has registered its victory and dominance in countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh. Sri Lanka has handed over its Hambantota port to China in 2017. China built railway and road bridges in Bangladesh and entered Maldevis while India watched. India’s neighbours are roped in by China in its One belt One road scheme. China undoubtedly shall extract a price for all it is doing as nothing is an altruism. India’s position in Afghanistan in no different. So much so that its “best” friend, US stalled import of oil from Iran and weapon from Russia when India staked everything for US. There is complicity in India’s strategic shrinking influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, say the analysts. Modi is “bowing to powerful and bullying the weak.” Within also the picture is grim, gloomy and sad. Hardly anything triumphal, everything dismal.

Analysts also ask that how can India be a great power when it is socially divided? Social divide that is patronized by the ruling class which does not stand India in a good stead among the community of nations. Someone really needs to repair the damage that has been caused to the Indian social fabric. Total atmosphere seems to be tense and no right thinking Indian seems at peace. We have all these five years been debating, are we a secular state or a Hindu Rashtra. We have been forced to live in the past while world moved forward. Also amazing is the fact that what BJP hurled on Congress on alleged 2G scam, is hurled back several times multiplied on BJP for controversial Rafale deal/scam.

I will be leaving this write up halfway, if I do not mention Bharat Karnad, a conservative strategist and unforgiving author of “Staggering Forward: Narendra Modi and India’s Global Ambitions”, a 2018 publication. It is a critique of India’s political leadership, bureaucracy, armed forces, policies, system and processes and particularly Prime Minister Modi’s style of diplomacy. Needless to say that Karnad, after the last election was a strong supporter of Modi as had hoped Modi to transform everything crucial to the nation but to his dismay and utter disappointment nothing that he expected happened. Shivshankar Menon, former National Security Advisor says, “expect worse should Modi return to power in 2019. That would further postpone or derail India’s transformation into a strong, prosperous and modern country.”

With all what has been said here-in-above, believing also without any prejudice the same to be true and correct, one needs to keep one’s fingers crossed in the face of the fact of unpredictability of Indian voter and equally the cleverness of the political class. Will there be any change or the present dispensation will continue, remains to be seen. Let anybody be there but necessarily the one with grasp and understanding of the challenges the Indian nation is faced with, within and outside. Meanwhile be aware of wolves as they too are on the prowl. Let us prove Edward R. Murrow wrong.

(A leading lawyers and acclaimed poet, the author can be reached at: [email protected])