Herald: The burning questions

The burning questions

13 Mar 2019 04:44am IST
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13 Mar 2019 04:44am IST

In a democracy “We the People” asking questions, demanding answers and the truth, is not anti-national; which also applies to the fourth estate, in fact whose job it is to ask difficult questions and do investigative reporting in public interest! This is all the more important today with an authoritative right-wing Prime Minister of India always in election mode for the BJP and its mentor the RSS. Never forget power corrupts. Right from the Supreme Court, RBI, CBI and every institution we find checks and balances are being dismantled under the guise of security or faster development with a sort of reverse consultation like the Investment Promotion Board. Projects first selected by the cabinet and thereafter mandatory approvals manipulated. For example in Goa, TCP issues notice in the newspaper without first consulting the people or Panchayat concerned where vast tracks of mangroves, paddy fields, orchards, and forests are proposed for conversion into eco tourism or settlement zones! “All objections and/or suggestions if any may be forwarded to the TCP before the expiry of the said period of two months”. The draft RP 2021 is in force/not in force as dictated by building and tourism lobbies? When was it passed? The Panchayat of Carmona like the citizen is reportedly caught by surprise. With doubtful news, brains washing mighty propaganda, the people are kept off balance, fed scant factual information, bombarded with half truths and the burning questions remain unanswered or swept under the carpet.

The true caliber of a nation and its leaders are tested in critical moments in history. In our case the terrorism issue and necessary paradigm shift in challenging the 1000 cuts policy of our belligerent neighbour with using air power to cross the line of control to take out the thriving terrorist camps. The shooting down of our MiG and Pakistan taking prisoner of the pilot is where we stood on the brink of escalation. Nobody will tell us/ confirm the absolute truth. After the release of our pilot by Pakistan, with elections coloring perceptions, further aggressive actions may lead to uncontrollable consequences. 

Regrettably our egocentric and emotional bluster politicising the matter will inevitably lead to both nation's baying for war, tremendous loss of lives and financial ruin! Not to mention some crazy mistake leading to the nuclear option. The PM, idolised by many must lead by example.

On 25th February 2019 the National War Memorial was inaugurated. The solemn occasion was marred by the PM launching a very political attack on the Congress. There is a time and place for everything.  

It appears the present political dispensation, the national and social media nor the present civilian generation have personally experienced the horrors of war. They have perhaps seen on their television screens in air conditioned drawing rooms, the scale of degeneration of once prosperous societies reduced to living hell in Syria, Libya, Iraq with millions killed, maimed, families destroyed reduced to poverty and as refugees, malnourished children with no future? Today’s terrorism means body bags of soldiers and multiple civilian casualties to say the least. Can we win in Kashmir by alienating its people and turning a paradise into hell using force?

“Sab ke saath, sub ka vikas” is not translating into deeds! We have major inter-religious violence and ongoing insurgency in our country. The Maoists and Naxal problems are festering. With the Hindutva brigade belligerence and laws and rules applied differently to the VIPs, ruling party followers with religious discrimination and intolerance to dissent, mob violence and access to courts and justice for the common man being extremely time consuming, expensive and impractical, not a happy state of affairs. When will the government put in place badly needed administrative, police, electoral and judicial reforms? Instead of disputed GDP figures, when will we see a Happiness Domestic Product reflecting ground realities? 

Our nation must have powerful and modern armed forces, an unprejudiced police service to keep us safe and enforce equitable law and order. The nation must remember the many families, kith and kin of martyrs when baying for blood or surgical strikes against the enemy to satisfy anyone’s macho ego or incite people’s sentiments to win elections. 

A lasting prosperous happy solution does not come from unfinished wars but humane meaningful persistent actions towards building trust and peace. Which direction are we heading? Will the concerned politicians honestly admit the blunders of demonetisation or frankly list the pros and cons, how many jobs lost and industries were affected, losses due wrong implementation of GST, our exact financial state giving correct figures, why was there no Lok Pal even after Supreme Court deadlines and so on? 

The Goa State budget reportedly shows that our borrowings stand at a whopping Rs 14,400 crores. From 75 major promises made in the 2017 budget, only 15 have been implemented and 43 nowhere in sight! 

The Pulwama effect makes a better emotional issue for all Indians than Ram temple. The boastful expensive repeated advertisement blitz with debatable facts, figures and twisted truths, not taking the Opposition into confidence, outdated official secret act and sedition laws still applicable, is not good for democracy. Details about jobs, NPAs, price rise, farmer’s distress, privacy, digital colonization, mobs, justice for all, polarization of the nation, Rafael file “stolen” etc are buried under strident national security. Are we destroying the liberal soul of India?

(The author is a retired naval officer, freelance writer resident in Porvorim)
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