Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Two things stand out in the front page of The Times of India of October 20, 2010. One is the boast of Robert Vadra that he can "definitely win an election from anywhere" and the second is that his "exclusive" interview has been given top billing by the newspaper.

Businessman Vadra's cockiness does not come as a surprise, nor does the fact that one of India's leading newspapers has chosen to put him on the pedestal it has. Both obscenities tell a tale of a steepening decline that, if not reversed, will inevitably lead to the demise of India's democracy.

The shocking Commonwealth Games loot and the sordid drama in Karnataka have, yet again, brought to fore the reality that politics is now almost wholly about business. And business in India, as we all know, is about keeping the money in the family. The ownership virus has, therefore, spread deep into politics, with dynasties, big and small, sprouting everywhere.

The Nehru-Gandhi family, supposedly steeped in modern, liberal values, started the slide that has now become an avalanche of sorts across India. If Laloo Yadav is promoting his son and Bal Thackeray his grandson, it has nothing to do with Biharis, Marathi manoos, Indians or India. It is only about protecting and enhancing family wealth 'for generations to come,' as Amitabh Bachchan's says in the Binani Cement ad. The cadre-based BJP, late to the dynastic party, is making amends. Only the communists remain unaffected by the dynastic disease, but in their case rigour mortis has already set in.

There is no better recent example of this rot than Jagan Reddy who, thanks to the active help of his Chief Minister father YSR Reddy, has become easily the fastest growing businessman ever in India, with his Income Tax jumping from Rs 2.92 lakhs in financial year 2008-09 to an unbelievable Rs 84 crores for the first six months of the current financial year. Note that this is the 'white' component of his income. Considering the fact that bribes are mostly paid in cash, one can safely conclude that in the six years that YSR was CM, the father-son duo successfully plundered Andhra Pradesh like no one ever has. Yet, no questions have been asked, no sting operation done, no inquiries ordered. In fact the sole inquiry that had to be ordered against one of YSR Reddy's principal 'financiers', Ramalinga Raju, only because he could not cook the books of Satyam any longer, has, not surprisingly, run aground and is not likely to unearth anything against YSR or any other politician.

With politics proving to be such a risk-free, even though criminal, route to astronomical riches in super quick time, how can India remain the democracy that its founding fathers wanted it to be? It has to become an oligarchy. Of plunderers.

What we are witnessing now is the shaking out of ordinary Indians from the top rungs of power and wealth. It began slowly with Indira Gandhi, but, with the economy expanding rapidly and the corruption and plunder becoming badges of honour to brandish and brag about without even the tinge of fear of getting caught and put behind bars, it has gathered a momentum that no one would have imagined a few years ago. This sorry development could not have taken place without the active involvement and support of the liberal media that have embraced colonially-seeded social norms, repelled the egalitarian values that they were meant to imbibe, and joined the plunder party that, as watchdogs, they are supposed to bust. That is why a Vadra figures where he does, in the manner that has. That is why colossal corruption is winked at in the manner that it is and buried where it should never be.

The new rajas, big and small, are taking control of India, not as benevolent rulers in the mould of the Ram that Mahatma Gandhi wanted them to, but as daring, no-limits, no-conscience robbers. Elections have become tools to enhance the hold and power of dynasties. The naive poor are being bought with TVs, cycles, goats etc that you and I pay for. Thanks to the arithmetic of elections, the Muslim community has been reduced to a nautch girl, as it were, to be lured into their beds at election time, again with your money and mine.

Whore-ism is the new synonym of secularism, plunder of politics. What we call democracy is now increasingly of and for dynasties. In the new order, the 'by' people can only be subjects, not sovereigns.
Related reading:
1. Elections 2009: Dynasties empowered, not youth
2. Women's Bill: Empowering gharanas not women
3. The more Rahul's Congress changes, the more it's the same