October 28, 2008

INDIA : Mood of the nation


Offstumped wishes all its reader a Happy Deepavali with these musings.

The nation is less than six months away from the next general election. If the first four decades after Independence were marked by the absolute domination of one family in presiding over the nation’s affairs the last 2 decades saw the beginning of a more level playing political field. After some political turmoil and short lived national governments the nation has finally seen two back to back full term premierships from Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.

Perhaps it can be safely said that political stability is the only thing Vajpayee and Manmohan regimes had in common. It is useful to contrast the mood of the nation in the last 6 months of the Vajpayee regime with the Manmohan regime.

For the purpose of this exercise Offstumped examined the editorial pages of The Hindu between November of 2003 and March of 2004 with the editorial pages in the last 30 days.

It is striking that period between Nov 2003 and March 2004 was one of relative political calm across the nation. As latest as March 2004 the Vajpayee regime was firmly focused on Governance with initiatives like revamping the National Security Council to Urban reforms. There was some concern on lack of job growth but nothing of alarming proportions.

If optimistic editorials on the economy spelled the mood, here is what Offstumped found striking over a two month period between Feb and March 2004 after the Lok Sabha was dissolved Offstumped did not see a single divisive issue dominate the public debate to make its way to the editorial pages. In fact the majority of the editorials in The Hindu were on the state of the economy or foreign affairs.

Neither Divisive Identity Politics, nor Terrorism nor Caste or Class conflicts find any mention in the public debate during that period with the Gujarat riots of 2002 a faint and distant echo.

It is also striking that Communal Socialist rhetoric by the usual suspects that is so common these days makes no appearance during that entire period. The most dominant topics - Kashmir, peace talks with Pakistan, the economy and the U.S. elections.

Now contrast this with how the mood of the nation has soured over the past 5 years with the Manmohan Singh Sonia Gandhi duo presiding over the nation’s affairs.

From North to South and East to West if there is one sentiment in common it is the manne in which social conflicts have been allowed to fester and dominate the public debate. The legacy of the Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi duo is not just the utter mismanagement of the economy but a litany of conflicts that have driven deep fissures into the social fabric in areas where none existed just 4 years back.

We went from a period of successful elections in Kashmir to deep conflict over Jammu, from a period where the wounds from Gujarat Riots were forgotten to a period where no debate would begin without invoking the riots, from a period where class entitlements were given the short shrift as the nation looked forward to a high performing economy to a period where the economy is no longer managed and entitlements have become the political mantra of the day.

If Terrorism was not even a footnote in the period leading up to the last election we are now faced with not just Terrorism becoming the most dominant issue of the day but with an obscenely vulgar public debate that will view everything only from the prism of vote bank politics.

How pray did the Mood of the Nation sour from one of Optimism fuelled by limitless possibilities to one of bitterness and myopic politics ?

In the answer to that friends lies the criminal irresponsibility of the Congress Party on two counts

- the first was in the foisting on this nation a political arrangement first with the Communists and then with the Samajwadi Party that thrived on Social Conflicts from communal issues in Uttar Pradesh to caste and class issues across the country

- the second was in the foisting on this nation another political arrangement of “Power without Accountability” that saw an electile dysfunctional bureaucrat in Manmohan Singh pushing the Communal Socialist agenda of a political leader in Sonia Gandhi who sees herself as being above any kind of public scrutiny.

It was not without reason that Offstumped described the politics of the Congress divisive. Premised on “Progresive Liberalism” that thrives on “victimhood” and “guilt” the evidence is incontrovertible that the Congress having inherited a nation bereft of conflict has damaged its fabric irreversibly with its Communal Socialist agenda.

On the auspicious occassion of Diwali Offstumped calls upon all right thinking nationalist Indians to reflect upon this souring of the mood of the nation and give serious thought to defeating this divisive brand of politics rather than fall into its trap for nothing serves the Communal Socialists better than festering conflicts that create new classes of victims while spreading around an all pervasive emotion of guilt.

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