Will National Issues make a Comeback before National Election?

Written by: Pathikrit
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National Election in India
Prashant Bhushan's comment on Kashmir about referendum to decide the presence of Indian Army there has stirred a hornet's nest. His comments in particular are nothing new since he has always had such views and have often been in trouble for that. His party's stand on Batla House encounter was also questionable. His comments were symptomatic of the kind of sympathetic voices that are emerging in the mainstream politics of India through the left-liberals who are essentially devoid of basic understanding of the kind of sacrifices that India as a nation and Indian Army in particular had to make to maintain the integrity of India.

The moot issue therefore is whether the plank of corruption free government be the only agenda for the national election. Prahsant Bhushan's comment has by default reminded the nation once again that corruption is not the only issue that India needs to solve. There are a whole host of issues of national importance plaguing this nation and corruption is just one of them. There are issues related to India's weak-kneed approach in matters of geopolitics and cross border terrorism, issues related to terrorists getting acquitted because of shabby investigation and lacklustre prosecution and the increasing threat that India is facing day in and day out from home grown terror outfits like Indian Mujahidin or Maoists. Also there are issues related to India's defence acquisition policies and the faults therein which has led to major delays in India's weapons acquisition programmes leading to tilting of balance of power in South Asia.

There is also much discontent among the ranks of Indian Armed Forces and India's Central Police Forces because of sheer apathy of the government. Such issues would have to be solved by the next government with a sympathetic approach. Moreover, with Pakistan becoming more unstable a nation by the day and with the Chinese dragon breathing down our neck and literally encircling India by enticing India's South Asian neighbours to come into their fold, with India's energy security being perennially threatened by events in her neighbourhood, India needs a comprehensive and a decisive approach and as a nation India has to make sure that sympathy for Maoists or separatists or terror groups gets no place when it comes to issue of national importance. Populist or rather ridiculous approach of referendum or an SMS poll for every decision making is not the best way to govern.

Further, as a nation with a burgeoning population, India needs to create millions of jobs every year. This cannot be done merely with government trying to create disguised unemployment with self defeating policies like National Rural Employment Guarantee Schemes which create nothing but disguised unemployment. India needs to create sustainable assets for rural India and not do the annual hogwash of digging mud and filling them again which is precisely what is done in NREGA. Skill development apart, there is a major need for the creation of an enabling environment where Indian companies can work seamlessly for the creation of both assets and jobs for the nation. India's national approach towards private business has to be more equitable and friendly instead of antagonism even while making sure that the objective would be to create an enabling environment for business to thrive rather than encourage crony capitalism.

Any kind of real change in India would also need major reforms in agricultural policy. India's agriculture is almost in coma with hundreds of thousands of farmers having committed suicide in the last one decade or so. Mere doling out of subsidies has not worked at all. In case of agriculture too India needs a comprehensive and a radical approach with substantial dismantling of the APMC Act and creating a competitive market for agricultural products. Massive increase in the retail prices of most of agricultural products still could not increase the real income of the farmers producing them who continued to get pittance while the massive chunk of the price cake being eaten away by the middlemen. This has to change.

Finally, India needs massive administrative reforms. There is considerable disconnect between the babus sitting in the national capital and state capital with assured promotions, and the reality of actual India. This has to change too. Monopolies like Indian Railways have become a blot for Modern India even while India now has the capability to launch spaceships to Mars. Indian Railways stand nowhere to the major strides made by China in modernising its own rail network and becoming a major exporter of rail products.

Bottom-line, a new India has to be made with not just good governance but with an iron hand. That iron hand should be led by the vision and the will to create a strong India and not a laissez-faire India. Prashant Bhushan's comments on referendum just warned and reminded India to wake up to the problems plaguing India. Fighting corruption is fine, but the one who comes to power has to be one who has the gumption to fight not just corruption but also terrorism with an iron hand. Both are equally dangerous. One who has a weak-kneed approach towards the latter might be ominous for India even if it champions the cause of honesty. At the end of the day, the common man not just wants a corruption free government but also jobs and security. It is therefore extremely important that national issues make a comeback in the discourse before national election and let elections be fought on that.

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