The tribe of politicians in India has come to be regarded as the main source of all the problems the people are facing today. These sharks are seen as the fountainhead of corruption, inefficiency and manipulations and all that is vile and vicious in our polity. This appraisal is not limited to the middle rungs, it is slowly being felt among the lowest classes, for, you engage a rickshawallah or a cobbler in a remote slum, he mutters English expletives exactly as “loot” and in the vernacular as “chor,” to describe the leadership and the goings-on.
It is often wished, this country be rid of these politicians, but no, that is not to be, for, they are there because of a majority of Indians reeling under poverty having bartered their power for things as little as a meal or what is called subsistence assured in different forms in that vital economic exchange, which is facilitated through a countrywide network of contractors acting as nodal middlemen that has been at work since independence. So we are in the trap, no exit!
Unaware of these undercurrents, some people, primitive in their innocence, ask, are the politicians only to be blamed for the country’s lack of progress to ensure opportunities to live. The babble of arguments under this proposition are rather better heard and noticed. They ask to consider a scenario – you are a class teacher and you are conducting a test. Will it be possible for you to make sure that no one cheats? Now if a teacher cannot guarantee that within a class of, say, 40 students how can politicians be held responsible for failures in socio-economic deliveries.
India’s unfortunate experience!
Taking this logic further, the question crops up, then who should be held responsible? They say the middlemen – the ones who carry out projects, the ones who take birth in the process of all government activities. They are the ones, it is said, who will bungle the works routinely to make sure that it fills their own coffers. But the fact is that they are working at the master’s behest in a wider scheme. The fact is also that they are the appointed ones to act as the nodal agents of a subterranean network that binds the grass roots to the powers that be. This is India’s unfortunate experience since Independence! The unknown truth!
Before making further comments let’s take a look at how such people are robbing the country in broad daylight. One of the commonest sectors in which they are rampant is infrastructure – especially the rural and semi-urban areas, where the relative ignorance of common people allows them to make merry. Let’s consider a situation – a bridge is the only way of transport between two sides of a river. However, it is made of wood and it experiences a lot of traffic and breaks down one fine morning. Common sense would suggest that building a cement bridge would be a more efficient solution from a long-term perspective. However, thanks to the middleman in charge of building the bridge, the money is sanctioned for a cement bridge, a certain sum from that is siphoned by the criminal as per his convenience, and then a wooden bridge is built again. This cycle keeps on continuing. However, the cities are no exception – ones who have watched Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron would know. There are plenty of instances of bridges having broken down because of faulty materials being used at the time of construction or because of bad technologies being employed. However, nothing is done and the contractors who carried out these projects are surprisingly re-employed. These things re routine.
Labour – especially the casual labour projects of the government like the MGNREGA – is a major source from where the middlemen extract personal gain. They exploit these hapless labourers by either paying them less than what they are officially supposed to while making them sign or provide their fingerprints to authenticate documents where it is said that they are being paid properly. Even if in instances where the laborers are paid the goons employed by them extort money from the labourers to satisfy their masters. This hampers the lives of the common people and reduces their will to work thus affecting productivity and quality of life in the process.
In education, especially in the rural areas, the mid-day meal scheme is a very huge gold mine for these criminals and their masters. The dark hands of the vultures are reasonably suspected in several cases of deaths of innocent kids by poisoning in order to corner contract business. Doesn’t it strike us that most of the poor children come to the school primarily for the midday meal. When it is stopped it is seen that they, mostly from impoverished families, stop coming.
What is a Government employee?
Not many would know that one of the reasons many companies from outside India are afraid of investing in India is red-tapism. One wonders how much this has cost India in terms of income and employment for the skilled workforce, most of whom are forced to seek options outside the country, thus leading to an unwanted brain drain.
We don’t have an Indian definition of a government employee on the statute! They carry the British authorisation! Something is rotten in the State of Denmark!
Someone who has been to a government office to get a work done by a clerk or to a publicly owned service provider like bank or post office knows what happens there. What is the great socially useful work being done at these two places, for example? How much the poor people are indirectly paying for them to splurge? What are the calculations? What is the justification? What is behind the facade?
One can go on and on, and make a passing statement at best, that the people chosen to govern must govern, a wishful thinking! The light will always flicker, it will never glow.