The Resignation of Despair

There was a proverb that said every dark cloud has a silver lining. I can’t think of one to the Mumbai attack by terrorists, can you? The only thing that the attack has done for India is to rip the mask off from the faces of our politicians and shown them up for the scheming, soulless, power and publicity-hungry creatures that they are. To my mind, they are far, far worse than terrorists who at least have the mitigating factor of believing so strongly in their cause that they are willing to sacrifice their own lives for it. Politicians on the other hand believe in no cause, no value and no ethic apart from the ones of money, power and self-aggrandizement.

It is absolutely foul to see Mumbai plastered with hoardings by each political party in praise of the three police chiefs who died. The same parties which bayed for their blood when they performed their jobs in a way the party did not like are now trying to benefit even from their deaths by indulging in a gross game of friendlier-than-thou one-upmanship. The ads they have and are releasing on the eve of state elections in many states and in the run-up to the national elections proves only one thing – that we have no leaders worth the name and that they take no responsibility for any of their actions, preferring blame-storming and hoping public memory is as short as their own.

The BJP and Vajpayee who headed the government at the time have a convenient attack of amnesia regarding the shameful caving in on the Kandahar incident during which then foreign minister Jaswant Singh practically embraced the terrorists he was handing back. Nor does the party remember the attack on Parliament post which the MPs proudly spoke of their presence of mind in dashing behind the pillars of the building. The Congress on the other hand, keeps bringing up the horrific events at Godhra, while choosing to forget what happened after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, led by party leaders.

The concept of democracy being of the people, by the people and for the people has been completely vitiated by India’s politicians. If of the people means that Parliament is meant to reflect the composition of the population, how come we have so few women or so many criminals? If it is for the people, how come the aam aadmi’s lot doesn’t get better regardless of which government comes to power? How come we still don’t have the basics that have been promised in every election – clean water, power, roads? The only principle of democracy which is followed is that of by the people, which then results in divisive politics – by caste lines, by community, by religion, by any and every possible division so that ultimately only the politician benefits after each election.

The young parliamentarians who got into the Lok Sabha last time around were seen as rays of hope, as people who might be better-equipped to run this country than the octogenarians who are so far out of touch with modern life and the age composition of our country. But so far, we have not heard a single statement from them that touches a chord, not a single speech in parliament, except during the no-confidence motion against the present government, which demonstrates a vision or even the will to do things differently. Most of them, having used a family connection to get into parliament, are content to tow the party line, because after all, it’s a family business they have entered.

Barack Obama talks about the audacity of hope. In India’s case, given recent events, I think we might have to talk about the resignation of despair instead.

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