Sans values, true leaders

Political parties claim that the ensuing national elections are going to be a watershed in the history of independent democratic India.

 For the first time, the youth of this country is going to have a major say in electing the parliamentarians. Hindustan is now called ‘Youngistan’. To the extent possible, in this Youngistan, we are seeing leaders such as Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj of BJP, Rahul and Sonia Gandhi, Sachin Pilot and Digvijay Singh of Congress and Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan of Aam Admi Party, Jayalalitha of AIADMK, Nitish Kumar of JD(U), Mamata of Trinamool and Mayawati of BSP – ages ranging between early 40s to mid-60s.

Various parties claim that April-May 2014 is going to be a turning point because of a sea-change that each of them is promising to bring about. After a reign of mountainous corruption that went unchecked under the non-performing faint voiced Manmohan Singh who seemed to lack insight, foresight and oversight, Rahul Gandhi suddenly burst onto the scene and has been promising various plans or intents for the eradication of corruption as though the Commonwealth Games scandal, the 2G scam that seemed to break all earlier records for corruption and then to top it all the Coalgate, were all the creation of some unconnected else. 

Rahul had been deliberately kept away from all the action earlier, just so that he can claim the distance between his grandiose ‘vision’ and the bad governance that has very few parallels. He appears like, so to say, a blindfolded man getting up from deep slumber and bad dreams and suddenly spouting the menu for a grand dinner party.The BJP was to throw up an alternative to the incumbent leadership. They did it in the form of a ‘relatively’ younger leadership of Narendra Modi of Gujarat economic-miracle fame. Modi is also being projected as a person who gave great governance to his state and is expected to bring the same quality of governance in the running of the nation. If Rahul Gandhi is a day-dreamer, Modi is a seller of goods of suspect quality. 

‘Gujarat model’

Modi’s so-called ‘Gujarat model’ of development itself is rather doubtful. Development can have two different aspects to it: economic progress and human development. On either of these facets, Modi does not seem to have delivered as it is being made out by his party leaders – men and women of Modi’s faction in the BJP. If the young Indian society is ‘aspirational’ as the BJP-wallahs may say, Modi’s Gujarat during the decade of 2001-2011 has shown dismal performance. In the growth of literacy, his state ranks 19th among 28 states of India. Bihar, Manipur, Jharkhand and UP are all way ahead of Gujarat. Coming to think of it, states like UP, Bihar and Jharkhand have not exactly been known for their governance systems. In ‘sex ratio’ (number of women per 1000 men), all states have shown improvement except the state of Gujarat which shows a decrease in the ratio during the decade.

In ‘vaccination coverage’ (the percentage of children between 12 to 23 months of age who received all recommended vaccines,) Gujarat ranked 19th as per the Union ministry of health and family welfare figures released in October, 2007. Tamil Nadu tops at 81 per cent while West Bengal has 64 per cent. Gujarat’s 45 per cent is a considerably low figure and portends the risk of spread of terribly crippling diseases in the entire country.
 Sanitation is another important aspect of ‘human development’. Out of 1000 households, 590 households in Gujarat (both rural and urban parts included) do not have basic latrine facility. The all-India figure too is exactly the same which speaks very poorly about essential and rudimentary sanitation facilities. Chief Minister Modi’s suggestion of building ‘Shauchalays instead of Devalays’ should apply to his own state. 

Let us look at the hard core ‘economic’ growth figures. In ‘Road Density’ Gujarat ranks again at a low 19th with a density of 16.6 (m / sq km). The figure on ‘percentage of households using electricity as their primary source of lighting’ will show the penetration of the economic benefit to the ‘aam admi’ of the state. Gujarat ranks 16th on this percentage. 

The hard statistical figures speak contrary to the image of ‘messiah’ of ‘growth’ that Modi has come to build for himself. Thus, BJP is offering us Indian voters a leader whose tall claims cannot be substantiated. He is taking advantage of the ‘aspirations’ (greed?) of the youth of this country. 

AAP decline

The Aam Admi Party has only one point agenda – fighting corruption. It draws a blank on its imagination or plans for development and administration. ‘Performing a Kejriwal’ may be a new phrase that we could use for someone who constantly points fingers at others but abdicates when asked to take on the responsibility. From Anna Hazare’s ‘India against corruption’ movement, it is a sharp come down. 

Neither Jayalalitha nor Mamata Banerjee nor Mayawati inspire confidence. Same is the story with Mulayam Singh Yadav. These are not inspirational leaders - the need of today’s India. Even in the long-shot scenario of the Third Front coming to power, people of this country cannot find much enthusiasm. Such a dispensation would be bereft of energy and lacking in cohesion.

The choice before us Indians is sans real leaders and sans values. The option is between a kid shooting his mouth off, a plausible autocratic man – who has shown scant regard for his elderly partymen and whosoever is perceived as a threat to his aspiration to PM’s chair - whose claims of achievement are fictional, a ‘Kejriwal’ – the abdicator - and a motley group of aspiring and despotic domineering women and men. The choice is really depressing. 

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