A well-wisher asked me whether we shouldn’t be voting for a leader with vision than bring in a khichdi government. It is a legit question that deserves an answer.
Vision is too big a statement for any Indian politician. Any visionary leader would invest in its youth but the payback is over 15-20 years and no leader has done that. Leaders are elected for 5 years and are always in campaign mode for the next municipal, local body and state elections. Modi has campaigned more and governed less, strategised on elections more than for the country, Rules more and administers less, promised more and performed less, spoke more and heard less, advised more and solved less. He is more of a short-term trader counting his pennies every night than a Warren Buffet investing to create wealth. He thinks as a hedge fund meant for Saudi Arabia than a growth fund designed for India.
We are also nation ruled by a Hindu Undivided Family(HUF). A visionary builds an able team than empower only those loyal to himself. A nation of 1.3 billion is ruled by a family council that moved from Ahmedabad along with Modi. They include Amit Shah, Hasmukh Adhia, the Mishras, the Joshis et al. They failed to impose Rakesh Asthana in CBI too. Even home ministry under Rajnath is infiltrated with those who worked in Modi’s Gujarat.
India is now a nation where institutions that are meant to strategies for nation building have become PR offices of the government. NITI Aayog strategises less and justifies more, the CSO builds algorithms to downplay past and overplay present, RBI spent 4 years to count notes and justify the DeMo blunder, CBI works harder to fix political opponents and NSA burns the midnight oil to bring small time criminals to book. We now have a leader who works on building perception than changing reality.
A man is also known by the company he keeps. Modi’s Chief Strategist is Amit Shah, Chief campaigner is Yogi Adityanath, Chief Economist is Anil Bokil, Chief banker is Guru Murthy. Simply put, we are officially run by quacks who think they know the cure better than qualified doctors. The hard work to Harvard debate is taken to a new level. They are antipathic to science, knowledge and intelligence and that is dangerous.
A visionary is also known by the issues he fights for. His chief strategist, Amit Shah fights for a Rath Yatra, Yogi for a Ram Temple, NSA for nailing Gandhis, CBI for jailing opponents. 2014 was all about jobs, corruption and development. 2019 would all be about Ram Mandir, Muslims and Gandhis. That in no measure is vision!
We are also governed by sick people. All that matters is loyalty to the leader. At the height of tensions with China & Pakistan and economic crisis, we had sick ministers in absentia running defence and finance ministries. Anant Kumar, Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Manohar Parrikkar etc. enjoyed perks while being medically unfit and India paid the price with Doklam, DeMo and execution blunders of GST. This is no less than a sedition!
We are also a nation of rich absconders. Forget getting Dawood back from Pakistan, we have enabled criminals to flee. Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi, Nitin Sandesara of Sterling Biotech, Jatin Mehta of Winsome Diamonds have all fled under the watchful eyes of the chowkidar. India is constantly made to debate historical questions of ‘What if’, Justifying every action with ‘whataboutery’ and taking accountability to a Zero.
No longer are all citizens equal or secure. We divide people with every petty election. We have hate mongers driving public discourse. Elections are fought on Smashan vs Khabrastan, Ali vs Bajrang Bali. And this is only a prelude to 2019. We drive away intellect. We punish integrity. We loathe questions. Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Subramaniam, Arvind Panagriya, Urjit Patel, Justice Chalameshwar and Alok Verma are just a short list. Every dissenting voice bit the dust, every person with a spine stood bloodied and was uprooted.
And this demagoguery costs India more. Sushma, Gadkari, Rajnath, Suresh Prabhu, Nitish Kumar, Raman Singh, Shiv Raj Chouhan are able but victims while Smriti Irani, Giri Raj Singh and Yogi Adityanath are incapable but beneficiaries. Loyalty to the throne and insecurity of the leader will hurt even efficient BJPians whilst benefitting those that will cost India.
We no longer take opportunities to change the course of history. Kartarpur was an opportunity. The PDP + BJP rule was an opportunity. The international crude price was an opportunity. The absolute majority was an opportunity. RaGa as an opposition leader was an opportunity. The anti-corruption movement was an opportunity. And every opportunity was systematically squandered away.
We now have a leader who believes in monologues to a captive audience than a dialogue in an open house with the well informed. He knows his failings in performance and will not allow any forensic scrutiny of his achievements. The arrogance is telling. The apathy screams. The negligence cries. The leader of the largest democracy in the world refuses to be questioned.
So, here we are as a country. Our policies are made by quacks, Our institutions subservient to individuals, Our thinking is of day traders and hawala operators, Our statisticians work hard to show others smaller, Our policymakers work on building perceptions than changing reality, Our leaders reward loyalty than efficiency. We promote cronies to competitors, indulge sycophants than well-meaning critics, kill second rung able leaders to an insecure leader, and are formally ruled by a family council from Ahmedabad and Nagpur.
For sure, It would be a khichdi in 2019 with Mayawati, Akhilesh, KCR and Stalin deciding who the next PM would be. Modi would not be a compulsion and may not be an option too. And even if he were to be a PM, he would be heading that same Khichdi Govt. In the circumstances, what do we do? We now must reclaim our lost ground. We must vote for that political party that will think peace, think ahead, looks to future and builds hope. We vote for good than evil, humanity than religion, performance than perception and hope than fear. We vote to be free than imprisoned. We vote for what suits us than what suits them. We vote ourselves in. We Vote. To change. And not be changed.
We Vote. To Change.
About the author- Peri Maheshwar is the founder of Career 360, He believes that demographic dividend India seeks can turn into a nightmare if youth are not shown the right direction to best utilise their capabilities. He graduated in mathematics and economics and, in 1991, became one of the youngest students in the country to pass his chartered accountancy exams at the age of 21.