Monday, September 09, 2013

It’s King Louis’ India

Karan Kharb

India has gone beyond scams and scandals. Stories of politico-bureaucratic corruption no longer make breaking news.  Bapus and Gurus have surged ahead pushing the familiar faces of official crime and corruption behind. Arrogant and audacious as they all are, the ministers are quick to trash CAG reports, hoodwink all processes of law and circumvent Supreme Court directives.  If nothing else works, the files containing clinching documentary evidence are made to disappear as if no custodians were accountable for the same.  The Bapus infuse scare and so subjugate their devotees that they make even children surrender to their carnal lust, even as their well-wishers in power opt to ignore their libidinous escapades.  

India’s present state bears ominous resemblance to the disastrous state France was passing through in the late 1780s. Economy of France was in shambles, food scarce and prices skyrocketing.  That is from the French history, but the same headlines dominate the Indian newspapers even today. Starving French farmers had been crying that they did not have bread to eat. In response, Princess Marie Antoinette had then snapped, ‘why don’t they have cake instead?’ Indian farmers today, starving under debt, are committing suicides. Our politicians, like Marie Antoinette, ridicule them and suggest they could have a sumptuous lunch in Delhi/Mumbai at Rs 5/- to 12/- even as the hawker in the street sells onion at Rs 80/- a kg. Giving such assessment a stamp of authenticity, the Planning Commission says anyone surviving at Rs 32/-. And, in one stroke the population of the poor in India is drastically reduced by millions! That is the state of a rising India poised for a global leadership role in the 21st Century! Untouched by scarcity ever like Princess Marie, Rahul Gandhi sings the same song on different tune today when he says, “There is no such thing as poverty on Earth; it is merely a state of mind”.  

In a way our politicians are not lying; they are just narrating their personal experiences. Most of them do not pay for their meals, or for much of their other joys and wellness, which are serviced and sponsored by well-wishers aplenty. Even at the Parliament House Cafe, where the MPs have to pay, they get Tea for Re 1.00/-, Dal = Rs 1.50, Chapati = Re 1./-, Dosa = Rs 4/-, Biryani = Rs 8/-, Fish = Rs 13/-, Chicken = 24.50.  Outside the gate the MP’s driver pays Rs 55/- for the most frugal lunch while his sahib inside gets a sumptuous delectation at Rs 30/- or less for better service, hygiene and ambiance not available to the former. 

Something very similar was in vogue in France long ago. The monarchy and the nobles were happy, well fed and snobbish while poverty lay prostrate just outside the palace. King Louis XVI would shed crocodile tears on the plight of his subjects but do very little. He would often issue good orders but roll back the same under pressure from the nobility. Like Louis’, the UPA government has the reputation of being a ‘roll back’ government. Louis’ intellectual abilities were widely acknowledged as are Manmohan Singh’s academic qualifications. Louis was weak, indecisive and too subservient to extraneous pressures from the nobles. It all seems to describe Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s DNA! The institutions, clergy and aristocracy were all divided on state matters; they indulged in mutual acrimony and remained stuck without transacting meaningful work – much like the Indian government and our Parliament today.

In the face of these historic similarities between King Louis’ France and Manmohan Singh’s India of today, however, there lies a maze of some contrasting differences too. Anarchy in France led to a decisive Revolution ushering in a change of regime. India is, however, different. It has wandered through a history of much worse anarchic times and tyranny of regimes – indigenous and foreigners alike – but our tolerance threshold has always been so high that the masses have endured all waiting for God to descend in a Krishna like incarnation and fight on our behalf.

But our leaders know it better – God is unlikely to oblige the helpless, for ‘He helps those who help themselves.’ Even though the resentment is widespread and popular anger against the non performing regime of the corrupt, arrogant and inefficient politico-bureaucratic-criminal nexus is already at its bursting point, the rulers and administrators are resting in peace fully prepared with bakshish packaged in cool freebies that would cool down the cauldron of public anger – for the time being at least!.   

The caste, communal divide – a deft handiwork of our ruling class – has compartmentalized the gullible society to such an extent that rather than uniting to fight the malaise together, their responses come from mutual suspicion and distrust. Whereas the innocent suffer most in communal violence, the political patrons consolidate their heinous gains through these acts of violence.  Missing the real target, the gullible violence mongers end up killing their very own brethren who are already victimised.  

King Louis XVI had neither indulged in scams, nor rape nor murder. Yet, he was executed on the guillotine for his failures to deliver as a ruler. Presidents and Prime Ministers have been blown up in their aircraft or hanged to death in India’s neighbourhood in the past. In India, the story is different. Here, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and many more have been assassinated by the terrorists. The Judiciary or the State machinery has never ‘executed’ any of India’s high and mighty many of whom are guilty of crimes as serious as treason, rape, murder and corruption. In our dispensation, even terrorists sentenced to death by the Supreme Court refuse to die for decades. Obviously, there is no question of punishing the delinquent politicians – no matter what the crime. Turning in his grave, King Louis XVI must be cursing why he was not born to rule India instead of France!  


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