How easy it is to emulate an ostrich. The first showers of monsoon have transformed the roads of our proudest cities—the financial and political capitals of the country—into large open sewage drains and it will not be long before a few illegally constructed high-rise (by our standards) apartments come crashing down entombing the unfortunate residents or labourers at work. Stray reports of electrocution, rising figures of dengue or other monsoon-related disease deaths will raise a few heartbeats temporarily; then it will be business as usual. A biopic on an almost forgotten media mogul or pyrotechnics on or off the pitch by one or the other rising or fading cricketing stars.
One waits with baited breath for RaGa to see how he will surpass his ‘hug and wink’ act in the Parliament. Some have welcomed this whiff of fresh air in the stuffy corridors or aisles of power but most have been left perplexed by derivative Gandhigiri. The Prime Minister is away on another diplomatic mission—this time to the BRICS Summit that is celebrating its 10 years of existence. One almost wrote ‘survival’. The two most populous nations that are its members do not see eye to eye on anything and confront each other on many fronts from disputed borders nearer home to distant peripheries of an ocean with which the two have had little contact.
It’s difficult to imagine that a meeting on the sidelines between Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be a step forward to resolve any differences. India continues to oppose the ‘One Belt One Road’ project and China continues to slowly advance its pincer movement. From the ambitious railroad project connecting Kunming to Singapore through Laos and Thailand to the not any longer dark continent of Africa, its expanding footprint squeezes out India.
We keep hoping that the Chinese will flounder sooner or later and will be unable to deliver on grandiose promises losing goodwill and will have to leave with the ground ready for India to step in. Such hopes have been repeatedly belied in Myanmar and Sri Lanka but we continue to daydream. Russia under Putin moves in a different orbit. It faces more to the West than to the East. Its Eurasian and Socialist identity that reinforced USSR’s ties with India have eroded long ago. The Indian Prime Minister doesn’t share any bonhomie with Russian President Vladimir Putin akin to one displayed with his friends, former US President Barack Obama or the present President, Donald Trump.
Brazil and India have always had good relations but it is difficult to convince that either Brazil or South Africa has any desire to punch above its weight and risk annoying its traditional Western allies and patrons. Why then has NaMo found it necessary to spend time and energy on diplomacy when urgent matters require attention?
Does anyone know if the Finance Minister has resumed working from his office in North Block? How long can the Home Minister deal with the skirmishes between the Chief Minister and the Lieutenant Governor? The Constitutional provisions will be interpreted only by the Supreme Court but it’s the duty of the Central government to save the poor citizen from the harassment caused by the continuing stalemate.
The troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir has been put under Governor’s rule but this at best is a respite and can’t be confused with even a stop-gap solution. Come elections 2019 and the failure of the government to make any progress on this front will begin to stare it in the face. The lynchings by ‘gau rakshaks’ continue unabated as do the acquittals of the apprehended suspects. The collusion between criminals and police has been exposed more than once. It’s not only the minorities that live in a climate of fear. The common men and women too are feeling stifled by vigilantes of the moral police force that has mushroomed.
It’s easy to label anyone a foreign agent, anti-national and beef-eater or a child-lifter and take the law in one’s own hand. Our dynastic democracy appears to be fast degenerating into murderous madness of the mob. People traumatised by demonetisation and recurring shock therapy administered by the GST have barely stopped gasping. They still believe that it is only the Prime Minister who can stem the rot and stop the slide to the precipice. He does condemn hate speeches and lynchings strongly but then no action seems to follow. It’s true that it is the states that are responsible for law and order but let’s not forget that most of the states in the Union are today ruled by the BJP. The buck can’t be passed around. It’s PM Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah, who need to crack the whip and do it soon. The top jar in the sand clock has only a few grains left.