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Posts Tagged ‘Character’

Gone are the days when India used to have illustrious intellectuals leading it from the front, shaping public opinion and carrying the masses with their line of thought. The stature of our leaders – whether spiritual or political – like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, had left a deep impression on the public psyche. But the effect seems to have got completely obliterated from our collective conscience and memory.

It was Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan who had once coined the phrase “Crisis of Character”. As a common citizen of India, I think this is what we are facing today. Probity in public life is at its ebb. There is a vacuum at the top. On issues of corruption, we are not being proactive. Instead, we appear to be reacting to self proclaimed public activists and godmen. The last example of high standards in public life was possibly witnessed by us in 2004, when the President of the largest political party in India declared her intention of not assuming executive power. Today, we are a mute witness to a hapless Government conceding the demands put across by a section of the society, thereby compromising the fundamental principles on which our Constitution is based.

The root cause of some activists trying to usurp executive powers is the widespread public disenchantment with the lowering standards in public life. What is necessary at this juncture is the statesmanship of our top political leaders, including those who do not occupy the treasury benches. The opposition parties need not gloat over the recent turn of events – they would do well to set their own house in order and provide constructive support to the Government to clean up the mess.

Some basic steps which the powers-that-are may consider taking may sound utopic but make eminent sense.

Major political parties can come together and voluntarily declare their sources of donations and their expenditure pattern from 2011-12 onwards. Admittedly, there would be red faces all over in the short run, but a basic cleansing of the system will begin in right earnest.

Political parties would also do well to treat themselves like publically listed companies, thereby bringing them at par with private businesses, declaring their financial and corporate affairs to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs year after year.

Top political and business class can declare the assets and bank accounts held by them abroad, thereby giving a clear signal that probity in public life is a desirable trait. Even if a few selected top honchos take this initiative, the message will percolate down to the rank and file and bring in better transparency in our affairs.

The offer of the Swiss government to share information on the tax deducted on interest earned on deposits held in their banks must be purposed vigorously, thereby leading to realistic estimates of the money stashed abroad. Strictures against trading with countries which act as tax havens should get expedited.

Electoral reforms, specifically linked to disqualifying political aspirants who have criminal cases pending against them, are the need of the hour. So are judicial reforms, on which we only hear some lip service once in a while, but no concrete action on the ground in terms of fast tracking the disposal of cases.

By sending out an unambiguous message to the Indian public as also the world at large, the leadership today can ensure that our developmental plans gain momentum, we rekindle the interest in India as a favorite investment destination and we move towards a growth which is more inclusive in nature.

Would the political class rise to the occasion and seize this historic opportunity? Does it have the will to bring in radical changes in the way run this country and our lives?

Let us clean up the mess our individual and collective greed has led us into. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore had exhorted us to hold our heads held high and having a mind without fear. Let us practice it. Let us demonstrate to the world that ours is a unique democracy, based on a spiritual paradigm which is millennia old. Let us rediscover ourselves and restore our national pride.

 

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