by Priti Prakash | PUBLISHED: Dec 31, 2021, 23:00 pm IST
Like others, we too are a nation that is in the race of calling ourselves ’New India’. The right time for India when the most powerful nations of the world are vying with each other in wooing India as an Indo Pacific heavy weight playing along with our desire to be a world power in the region. S400 (Russia) or F16’s (US), tech transfer or countering expansionist nations, trade or vaccine diplomacy, India has become the cynosure of the world’s eyes.
Ironically the years 2021 and 2020 if gave us recognition on the world stage it pulled us down as a country. The pandemic took away not just lives in thousands, it took away jobs and livelihood, increased poverty by manifolds, small and medium business shut albeit the few handful of rich became richer. Malnutrition increased. The GDP went down. But the business of the government went as usual. Elections, election rallies and Kumbh added to the misery as super spreaders of the virus. Have we learnt lessons from the floating dead bodies in the holy Ganga! Upcoming elections will tell. Afterall our elections are no holds barred whether Delta version or Omicron.
It took a number of farmers deaths and a year and a half of torturous summer and winter of Delhi for the government to repeal the Farmers bill in the Parliament. We cannot doubt Prime Minister Modi’s intention of bending down to the will of the agrarian class. Does elections in UP, Punjab and Goa anything to do with it! Anyone’s guess. Lakhimpur Kheri murders or massacre, call it what you may, a fallout of the farmers agitation, sends chill down the spine, still hasn’t seen its closure as the union minister’s son still awaits arrest inspite of the courts ruling. In the same vein there can also be no denying that this is the same class that send their children to the borders, who were labelled anti national, terrorists, Khalistanis, treated like enemies come to attack the government in Delhi. A tweet of an American Pop star Rihana came handy to the powers that be too. The followers though have a different take.
We have surely become stronger in terms of our defence needs with upgraded air and naval power which has boosted our preparedness in the changing world scenario although countering the imperialistic aspirations of China does not come easy. This, juxtaposed with hundreds of schemes as a welfarist state for citizens domestically. But no amount of development can justify hate speeches. Societal polarization is destroying the national fabric ensured by our constitution and thousands of years of culture. Churches being desecrated, activists attacked, mob lynching in the name of religion, call for genocide, fringe elements being mainstreamed and the powers looking the other side!!!!!!! It should worry us all.
Session after session saw Parliament pass bills at will. Opposition complained of the temple of democracy becoming a rubber stamp. As per statistics 60% of the bills passed without scrutiny. In the winter session itself Parliament passed 11 bills, only four of those were referred to standing committees. The Farmers bill, The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which links Aadhaar numbers with voter cards, bill defining the powers of the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor, Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021, Bill to raise the age of marriage of girls to 21 years, are a few of them.
Last year saw hundreds, thousands of deaths due to the pandemic. People died of scarcity of oxygen. They were left on their own to fend for themselves. There was no household that did not loose a loved one. It was apocalyptic, nightmarish at the least. Lest we forget we will be condemned to suffer again.
Upcoming elections in states of UP, Punjab and Goa in 2022 will be a barometer of who may stand where. Congress, yet the main opposition party, is a hopelessly incredible force. Lack of leadership, fissures within (G23) and no vision to take the country ahead has made the electorate scramble for an alternative at the national level. Talk to people and the absence if an alternative is a majboori. Just with 3 states in its kitty Congress and Congressmen themselves do not know their future. Regional parties hold better position and promise.
Unfortunately dissent or difference of opinion is a forgone thing. Journalists, free thinkers, social catalysts and opposition voice is not a welcome trait. Do it at your own risk. On the other hand social media has topsy turveyed freedom of speech. One is either a supporter or an anti national. Taking cues from China, Russia or Turkey and Iran cannot work in the context of our ‘great’ nation.
Ranking 142 out of 180 in press freedom does not augur well for a democracy like India. Barring journalists from Parliament access to report the proceedings, UAPA being slapped at the slightest of disagreement or questioning is but a reminder of emergency. Social media is unbridled. Reporting on farmer agitation saw some serious reporters land in jail.Nation comes first. Civilizationally we are the same India as yesteryears. Proud of our heritage and culture that has taught us to coexist peacefully with harmony. Changing times do not justify hate, violence, bigotry or injustice. Lets live the India of Vivekanand and Mahatma Gandhi. Cherish hope for future for a peaceful and progressive India.
Political Commentator, Interviewer, moderator and Foreign Correspondent. With more than 15 years in journalism and experience of both print and electronic medium, she is Editor FacenFacts, news website and Managing Director, Dream Press Consultants Ltd