Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Prime Minister Sir, Dr Manmohan Singhji:

For the last 15 years or so, I have been reading and hearing about the impending miracle that India is. It first started with the Prophecies of Nostradamus, who supposedly predicted more than 400 years ago that India would one day rise to become a global superpower. Slowly the idea took shape, in the media, in magazines, books, the TV, people all around started talking about it. And the talk only grew with time. By 2004, your leading opposition party had even made "India Shining" its poll slogan, albeit one which resulted in abject defeat for it.

I grew up with an air of quiet confidence, and I saw change all around me. I didn't carry the baggage of our previous generation, which was used to a very different kind of India, which was restricted, which bound people. I grew up reading about the brain drain, about value conscious, money saving Indians who shunned ostentation, about engineering and medicine being the only possible career options (or else, elders would thunder - you are resigned to cutting grass). But I also remember sensing a tiny voice inside my head, telling me that this doesn't seem to be correct. What I was seeing was at odds with what I was told was the truth. I remember reading something vaguely about a payment crisis, about "liberalization", a word which I struggled to pronounce.

And then, more than 7 years ago, I remember that you became the Prime Minister.

I remember hope. About a decent man who would be at the helm of affairs in running the country. I shrugged aside the cynicism, the malicious remarks about "family retainers" and "seat warming"

I remember pride. In forwarding your exceptionally distinguished CV to everyone I could think of, with the "Can you guess who this person is" tagline

I remember confidence. In the quote of Victor Hugo which you used while commending the Budget to Parliament on that fateful day in July 1991.

I remember euphoria. When your party won an overwhelming majority and stock markets rallied by 20% in one day.

Thats how big a game changer it was. I rejoiced. No longer would you need to grovel before the ungrateful Left or the Ammas & Didis of the world.

You were always a decent man in an indecent time. I commiserated with you for the set of people you had to work with. Men and women of a far lesser standing, I reasoned.

But now, I am unable to comprehend anything.

I do not comprehend the deterioration in internal security that has taken place with alarming proportions.

I do not comprehend the corruption scandals which tumble out one after the other with numbing alacrity.

And worst of all, I do not comprehend the helpless look on your face. I do not comprehend your loss of dignity.

The Mahabharata states that Yudhishtira alone of all men, was truth personified. His chariot used to float above the ground, in honour of that status. But one small half-truth changed everything, and his chariot from then on always touched the ground.

I see your chariot doing the same. All those mediocre people who surround you, look at what they have reduced you to - from a great statesman to an ordinary politican. It is painful to watch.

True, you head an elected Government. India can remove you at the end of your 5 year term. But India is changing too fast. India cannot wait for 5 years to seek change. In fact the need of the hour is to introduce a rule which makes the Government seek a popular referendum at least mid-term to continue in office.

I would love to believe you. I would love to believe that things will be all right. I would love to give hope another chance. But somehow I am not able to do it.

Yours Sorrowfully,

An ordinary Indian

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