Keep calm and carry on
During the Second World War, almost no other country faced as much hostility of Hitler’s Third Reich as Britain. Britain suffered arguably the most terrible warfare, with hundreds of v1 and later v2 rockets showering across London every day, destroying almost the entire city. It also suffered the most humiliating and damaging defeat at Dunkirk when more than a hundred thousands of British soldiers were trapped and yet, the country stood fast.
Every inhabitant of the island was thoroughly praised by attaching virtues of resilience and nationalism to each and every of them. But most historians and minstrels overlooked one simple and correct reason: It was all due to five words: Keep calm and carry on that could be read across the country in big red posters with a crown on top. These words assured the people, Britain will survive, and Britain will win. It reassured that they will not give up, go into oblivion. While citizens in other nations went into panic and frenzy or even collaborated with the impending invaders, the British stood with their leaders, their country. It was this deep faith in the leadership, in the nation that made it possible for them to win, to survive. It can unarguably be branded as propaganda, but the reason it succeeded was simple: It assured them everything will be alright, and asked them to keep faith in the leaders, in the nation.
It is precisely this faith that Indians have lost today. Not due to some genetic fault of a billion people, but due to the dictatorial and power hungry streak of the ruling Congress party and Nehru-Gandhi family that is subverting every constitutional institution and the very constitution itself. This is surely not a recent trend, for even before independence, Nehru subverted the mandate, given by vote of representatives to elect Sardar Patel and grabbed the seat, using ‘lobbying’ as usual. But the recent leg of the subversion of watchdogs and acquisition of power has been so brazen; it would leave even the worst dictators of the world flabbergasted.
It all started with 2G spectrum allocation scam, which resulted into exchequer loss of 1,76,000,000,000 rupees (In which, the Joint Parliamentary committee, in the most brazen manner, has virtually ‘convicted’ A. Raja, then telecom minister and NDA government led by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee while giving clean chit to Congress and UPA.) Since then, there has been, virtually, a daily dose of scams. 2G scam was followed by CWG scam, Coal Allocation scam, Granite scam, Irrigation scam, NREGA scam, Land scams, Son-in-Law scam and myriad of small scams, about which people of India do not even bother anymore. Accompanied by self-destructing Socialist policies of UPA, these scams have had a tragic impact on Indian economy, and more than anything, the people. The hope of a world-leader-India and faith in Indian state that the whole nation was brimming with, have long since disappeared and all we are left with, now, is media puppets of the ruling Congress party and Nehru Gandhi family spinning the failures into successes, and minor steps as reforms – that too, unconvincingly.
But the problem is not the scams, neither are the policies. The problem is the brazenness with which the congress party is committing scams, playing their political games and robbing the people of their “faith in India” which is bigger than money, bigger than vote banks, even bigger than a billion people. It is the faith in the nation, its future and its sovereignty. That faith is dwindling and that too at a very rapid pace, with the Congress subverting and almost nullifying one constitutional institution after another. Although, this is nothing new, since subversion and process of placing lackeys at every position, spreading their tentacles deep in every institution & every system of the country has been going on since the days of Mrs. Indira Gandhi who followed her father’s footsteps quite closely. Since then, Election Commission, Vigilance commission, CAG, judiciary, law and order establishment, media, academia, and most infamous of all: CBI, all institutions have been compromised. People of those days, mired in poverty, illiteracy and feudal mind-set, didn’t really care and the few uncompromised academics and intellectuals were either silenced, destroyed or jailed.
But with changing times, people have realised importance of these institutions. These institutions are the fail-safe of Indian democracy and stand between the elected leaders and abundant power. They make sure no one surpasses the authority invested into them and no one uses it for any purpose other than the supposed. All of these institutions: Judiciary, CAG, CVC, EC are crucial for Indian parliamentary democracy for all put together amount to the mechanism of ensuring a healthy Indian state. Just one example of a brave, honest CAG in the person of Vinod Rai, who has shaken the government by taking it to cleaners for myriad of scams, is example enough why India needs powerful and capable institutions.
But the systematic subversion of institutions is happening, and it’s happening in every manner: By appointing poodles in important positions, by decimating the authorities of institutions & mechanisms by making and amending laws, and by defaming the uncompromised through propaganda machinery. If one looks back a few decades, there was a president of India called Zail Singh who claimed he’ll sweep the streets with a broom if Mrs. Gandhi orders him. Such words, coming from highest non-executive authority not only undermine the dignity and integrity of the authority but also the public perception and respect for Presidency. Even the Gujarat Governor is a glaring example of such subversion, when perfectly constitution-abiding acts are kept pending, deliberately, to deny the political glory to the current Gujarat government. Because of this, the people of Gujarat, well, sections at least, have started perceiving the post of Governor itself as a political weapon rather than an important constitutional authority.
Recently, a rating agency threatened to move India’s investment status to ‘scrap’, and government went into panic mode. Along with the government’s standard-response gibberish, the “paid media” too went into a huddle. Lots of experts came on television debates and pontificated about how the ‘fundamentals of Indian economy are strong‘. Yes, purely from figures’ perspective, they are strong enough to survive couple of years of rough patch.
But what these bureaucrats, politicians and poodle journalists don’t get is that it’s not just about numbers. Investments – both solid (plants, factories, offices) and liquid (stocks, bonds, bullions etc.) work on the basis of sentiments. More than often we have seen BSE/NSE crashing because of any political/diplomatic/social disturbance, however small. Investments are made by human beings. And human beings don’t invest where they don’t have faith. And when Indians themselves have no faith in the nation, it is moronic to expect a foreign, for-profit firm to have it.
Only a few days back, Newslaundry came up with an interesting article: ‘Have Vir Sanghvi and Nira Radia Tapes Ensured Readers’ Doubt forever Whether the Column They are Reading is ‘Paid News’?’ Yes, they said it. Indians live in perpetual state of doubt and suspicion about the media, especially the English media. No one of the sane mind believes everything that is said, and many smart ones see through. Sure, distrust of media is a perpetual truth, but the lows that Indian media’s credibility has sunk to, is appalling. This is the fate that every institution is sharing today. No one is ready to believe anything that is said, no one has any faith in any institutions whatsoever.
That lack of faith is evident on the streets of Delhi since late December 2012, when half the Delhi was out on the street protesting against rape of a paramedical student, posthumously identified as Nirbhaya. Sure, it was started by Communist leaning organisations like AISA and SFI, but it couldn’t have become what it did without the support of people who later joined in. Why were they on the street? Was it just about the rape? No, they were on the streets because they have lost their faith in the system, in the establishment, and most importantly, in the nation. They believed no one is going to do anything, no one cares. They were angry; that no one is doing the job, they are assigned. This was but the tip of an iceberg. There is much bigger latent sentiment of anger, not only towards the government and the ruling party, but towards the entire establishment. To add to that, the manner in which the current UPA regime handled the protests, proved to be a catalyst. They were beaten, water cannoned, while all they wanted was someone to come and say, ‘Keep calm and carry on’.
If social media is any indicator to the general sentiment, which I believe it is, since it is a platform shared by cross sections of regions, religions, social setups, economic backgrounds and political leanings, then there is absolutely no trust, no faith, no assurance in the people about the future of the country. It is on twitter that one can read shocking statements, only to realise later that almost every second Indian would second them. One of them read: “F**k Pakistan lets bomb ourselves” after the rape of 5 year old in Delhi who has survived such horrific experience unlike Nirbhaya. Another read “Can we ask the military to organise a coup?” which was most shocking of all, since it endorses the sentiment that our democracy has rotten beyond repair and people would prefer military rule than the establishment.
Perception is always bigger factor than reality. It is a mover of things, destroyer of empires. As a panellist on a primetime talk show rightly said, security and perception of security are two separate things. If people perceive themselves to be safe, even in the face of rising difficulties, they cope better, while presence of security while the perception of insecurity will mean nothing. Of course, a lot needs to be done in this country, but the perception of people, moving away from the legitimacy and validity of the state will not only be disastrous for this regime, but for every regime in the future, and ultimately for the nation.
It is from the perception that people derive their sense of faith in the nation, the establishment. With repeated subversion of all establishments and institutions, the Congress party has inflicted the worst damage it ever could, to the nation: the lack of faith. Today, more than ever, we need someone to trust, someone to invest our faith in. Today, we need someone to come and say “Keep calm and carry on”.