The Friday Column: From Left To Right

Craving for native place

Nearly half a year ago, I had planned to spend the whole month of June in my village this year. The coronavirus had me snookered. This meant that I have not been able to have the fun of living in the countryside to which I have been used since my young days. I would invariably spend my every summer vacation there as it would coincide with the mango season.

Apart from savouring mangoes, I would revel in basic village life unmolested by the hustle and bustle of civilization. While there, I would get the feeling of peace and welfare in a deeper sense. Especially going from an anonymous city, I would feel immensely recognized.

Nearly three thousand people would know me by my first name. It would be a wholesome feeling. It is there that I would discover the virtues of backwardness and the downsides of a one-dimensional materialist life. Each stay of mine would be like going through rite de passage – I would feel transformed into a new man. Once the corona pandemic is over, I have decided to look beyond the city enclosure.

Nepal

Since communists have assumed office in Kathmandu, Nepal has been inclined to act in a confrontational way towards India. It has launched cartographic aggression claiming some portions of India’s territory. Nepal has openly supported China in its border conflict with India.

As if this were not enough, it has blamed India for COVID 19 spread in Nepal. The latest news is that Kathmandu has banned the broadcast of all private Indian TV channels in Nepal. Why is Kathmandu doing all this? It seeks to proclaim loyalty to its newfound friend and ideological ally. It is not surprising that China’s political leverage in Kathmandu has grown considerably.

China’s ambassador openly intervenes in party politics and influences the course of events in Nepal. But China seems to be far too close for comfort. Incidentally, Nepal and the communist model of development are antithetical. Stripped down to the basics, the red model means leapfrogging stages of growth and abruptly pushing a country into a bog. This inevitably ends in an absolute disaster. Such disasters had been witnessed in Afghanistan and Ethiopia when communism had been imposed on these poor countries. Nepal needs to be alert to dangers. The communist system will not only ruin it but also expose it to China’s never-ending political control.

Bihar politics and the Upcoming State Assembly Elections

Bihar’s assembly elections will be held in October 2020. Political parties have already lined themselves up for the electoral battle. There are two major alliances that are expected to lock horns over 243 assembly seats. While Nitish Kumar leads the JDU-BJP alliance, Tejaswi Yadav the son of Lalu Prasad Yadav heads the RJD-Congress alliance. The little political groups have latched on to either alliance. In general, the alliance led by Nitish Kumar is considered the stronger of the two.

However, the cavil is that Nitish Kumar has already been in power for 15 years and hIs rule has begun to pall on. Nitish’s political appeal, therefore, seems rather reduced. However, keeping the Modi BJP’s company provides him with an amount of sheen that is supposed to do the trick.

And in addition, his main rival RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav is weighed down by several disadvantages like his leading party men leaving the party in droves, the absence of Lalu’s political skill, his MY[Muslim-Yadav] constituency not as cohesive as before, spooked by his father’s legacy of corruption and scams and last but not least he and his party ruled by primordial ideas and emotions.

Most analysts say Nitish Kumar may come up trumps but his assuming power three times over could be a huge disappointment to those who want a new politics to begin in Bihar.

Parameters are still extremely low in Bihar. It seems stuck in a time warp. In the sober analysis, Bihar needs rapid capitalism to grow and succeed in the 21st century. Rapid capitalism means creating the culture of punctuality, scientific temper and rationality, the rule of law, spirit of investigation as well as helping Bihar get rid of feudal values like clannishness, casteism and inequality.

It is time, Bihar gave up experimenting with all confused and less effective models of development. Who could be Bihar’s best bet to take the state to the process of transformation? Nitish Kumar does not qualify because he ballyhoos his commitment to slow small scale industrialization.

Tejaswi Yadav stands for the restoration of the pastoral society in Bihar. However, subscribing to rapid and comprehensive industrialization of the country, the Modi led BJP remains the only party that could be expected to offer a leader who could possibly perform a miracle of instituting rapid capitalism in Bihar

The Nehru Dynasty

The latest news is that the Nehru family is stretched to cover Vadras as well. So it is now called the Nehru-Vadra family. The Indian National Congress Party is rechristened the Nehru Vadra Congress. It is shocking indeed that nobody has raised objection to this fraud. The Vadras are supposed to have walked to a court of law and got themselves legally allotted the moniker ”Gandhi”.

The Vadras see themselves as legal heirs of the Nehru dynasty and by extension the Congress party. The whole fraud has been organized by the Vadras and of course with the tacit consent of Sonia Gandhi given Rahul bowing out of the role of a householder. Priyanka Gandhi’s recent entry into the Congress politics has its origin in the fraud as well. However, what the Vadras are doing amounts to a criminal offence and I would urge the govt. of India to divest them of their citizenship.

There are reports that the Nehru dynasty has grabbed huge amounts of prime public land in the capital. It is said, the land grabbed by them is worth thousands of crores. This is a serious matter as it not only violates the law of the land but also encourages the idea of privilege -something repugnant to democracy. However, the affair reflects on the Modi govt. voted to power to punish such criminal elements.

I call upon the govt. to immediately take the necessary steps to take back the public land grabbed by the Nehru family.. Prime Minister Modi’s inaction in the matter will amount to insulting the popular mandate given to him by the people of this country. I am sure, Modi does not preside over a soft state Swedish scholar Gunnar Myrdal had talked about in his book ”Asian Drama” a long way back in the 60s.

While the leftover of the so-called Nehru family keeps shooting their mouth off about anything and everything they have yet to utter a single word about the Palghar lynching of Hindu sadhus. The incident happened mid-April. in Maharashtra where Congress is one of the parties in the ruling coalition. What does it show? Every word they utter is prompted by narrow political considerations.

Their single political goal is to harm Hindus and their interests. And this alone explains their complete silence about what happened in Palghar but their voluble and shrill utterances about things that advance their anti-Hindu politics.

However, they should be reminded of the fact that the elements they are working for are peripheral to Hindu civilization and their growing influence would force India into becoming a nation of social disharmony. A French student of Indian affairs is quoted saying there is a huge demographic change already sweeping that will force the South Asian country to spend most of its energy on conflict resolution in the years to come.

System Needs Reboot

Stuck in complicated procedures and the long-drawn-out decision-making process, the present system of representative democracy (indirect democracy) has been a disaster. Bihar is a case in point. Over seventy years on, Bihar has not experienced a slight change. Had it not been for the remittance economy, Bihar would have perished. It is in this context that the idea of direct democracy -meaning where the people at large will directly take decisions about how the state will be governed by merits consideration.

Direct democracy means that the entire population will vote on each issue of public importance based on their mutual collective consultation. This will be made possible through mobile telephony. Since this will be virtual, the whole process will be quick and hassle-free. This will also take care of the oft-repeated cavil that direct democracy will not work in a populous state like Bihar. The election commission of India could possibly get down to the nitty-gritty of organizing it.

Needless to say, the advantages of direct democracy count many. Enriched by their mutual and simultaneous consultation through virtual means – democracy apps could be set up – the electorate could make informed voting decisions as well as exercise considerable influence over the functioning of government. Direct democracy ensures good governance that leads to a reduction in corruption and mismanagement.

Plans and schemes of development are executed on time as the dilatory tactics employed by bureaucracy and vested interests get counteracted by public scrutiny. The financial irregularities indulged in by parliamentary representatives become a thing of the past. Should Bihar opt for direct democracy, the state will have yet again pushed the envelope of politics in the country.

— Paras Nath Chowdhary/New Delhi

(The author of this weekly Friday Column is from Darbhanga in Bihar and has worked for more than thirty years, for the South Asia Institute, New Delhi, branch of Germany’s Heidelberg University. He is well versed in Hindi, Maithili, Bangla, English and German languages and is an acclaimed commentator.)

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