Democracy hijacked!June 11, 2007
By Francois Gautier
Practitioners of cynical politics who are driven by the lust for power are destroying all that is good and true and valuable in India. Hindus are mocked at and persecuted while Government is busy devising ways and means of dividing the nation along caste and communal lines
India prides itself as the greatest democracy in the world. But actually, there are very few places where democracy has been so hijacked and perverted. Nothing demonstrates this better than the manoeuvring going on at the moment to find India's next President.
President APJ Abdul Kalam must be the most popular President in the history of India. Yet he will not be re-elected, because he was the people's President and not a stooge of political parties.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will never forgive him, as he was the one who stopped her from becoming Prime Minister when he told her in the privacy of his chambers that it was unconstitutional to hold two passports - Indian and Italian - as she did for many years (she is not the only foreigner who did so after obtaining Indian citizenship).
Quite a few Muslims regard him suspiciously because, although he is a true Muslim, he respects other religions and is known to keep the Bhagvad Gita and Sri Aurobindo's Savitri in his study. Thus Mayawati, partly elected by Muslims votes, will keep away from him. And the BJP is wary of Kalam because he did not always do its bidding.
How else is democracy perverted in India?
Well, here you have a party, the Congress, which has been going from bad to worse in the last 15 years, came a miserable last in the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, and sprung to power at the Centre by a freak accident because the TDP lost in Andhra Pradesh and the Marxists did well in West Bengal.
Yet, the Congress is all powerful at the moment and is dividing India more and more along caste and religion lines, thanks to a cynical reservation policy - witness the recent strife in Rajasthan.
You have a foreigner who, whatever her qualities -honesty, hard work, family values - is just an elected MP, like hundreds of others, and yet rules as the supreme leader of this country, one whose word can make or unmake anybody. Do you think it would be possible for an Indian to become a de facto President or Prime Minister in the US, France or Germany? Absolutely not!
Even India's Prime Minister, a decent but weak man, is not elected: He was defeated the last time he contested an election and is now a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam, where he has no roots at all.
Democracy in India has also been hijacked by cynical mathematics: How to get elected with the votes of the Muslims; who remain the most backward community in India, in spite of having brought to power umpteen Congress Governments since Independence; and how to manipulate the Dalits, who have had a fair share of benefits and have had one of them as President and many of whom are politicians in power.
Ms Mayawati has become a master of cynical mathematics: Muslims + Dalits + Brahmin votes = Absolute majority. Yet, will she do more for the Muslims and the poor of Uttar Pradesh than she did in her three previous stints as Chief Minister?
It seems doubtful, the way she has started, wasting hundreds of crores by scrapping all previous projects, including the Special Economic Zones and transferring hundreds of officials.
In the name of freedom of expression, Indian intellectuals defend people like MF Husain, who denigrates Durga, India's most holy goddess. Would he dare depict Mohammed's wife in this manner? Certainly not!
When the Prophet is caricatured by a Danish newspaper - harmless lampooning compared to Husain's derogatory portrayal of Durga - the entire Muslim world erupts in flames. Had Husain defiled Islam's icons, he would have been dead today.
Did India's 'free' Press ever care to show on TV or publish in magazines and newspapers Husain's derogatory paintings? Yet, they are freely available and have been reproduced in a coffee table book sponsored by Tata Steel with a foreword by Russi Modi.
India's judiciary is stretched to the limits by clever lawyers getting their rich clients off the hook, thanks to judges who go by the book without adapting their judgements to the Indian context, or by bribing witnesses as has been allegedly done in the BMW case. But poor people go to jail and it takes seven years to get a case cleared.
India's socialist system, which is still enforced, pretends to tax the rich to subsidise the poor. But in reality, the rich have smart chartered accountants who twist the law, while the less fortunate have to pay taxes on small savings and salaries. And, of course, most of this money never reaches the destitute.
Finally, here you have a country of 850 million Hindus, a billion worldwide, one of the most tolerant, law-abiding communities in the world. Yet, Hindus in India are made fun of and their beliefs riled at. They are persecuted, as the four lakh Kashmiri Pandits have been, without raising finger in defence - their men hanged, women raped, children disembowelled. They have become refugees in their own country and the media is mostly silent.
Yes democracy is needed, and a free and democratic India definitely has (in the long run) an advantage on an undemocratic China. But the way things are going now, India seems on the verge of losing all that is good and true and valuable within the nation, thanks to cynical and self-serving politicians.
Cry O my Beloved India. Look at what Thy children are doing to Thee.