Welcome to the official website of Youth For Equality, Mumbai. We thank all those who have been supportive of our efforts to create a fair and equitable society.
This is a forum of equals to oppose the recent CHANGE in reservation policy proposed by the Government of India. We are a non-political, non-violent and united group of individuals.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Centre Just cannot hold

The Fourth anniversary of UPA government has been celebrated and why not. The election victory in 2004 was a total surprise and even more so was the innovation that the leader of the largest single party did not become prime minister and she appointed a trusted and talented man as ‘her’ prime minister. There has been little friction between the two, and everyone knows that while he is honest and hardworking, she makes the crucial decisions. Until something goes wrong. Then he takes the blame as with the nuclear deal and with the recent inflation upsurge.
But there is more to coalition dharma than just personalities. India has drifted over the last 20 years to become a softer state than it used to be. The Centre still has constitutional primacy and often uses it to mischievous partisan ends. Thanks to the fruits of liberal economic reform of the PM when he was FM and the current FM’s work with building a prudent and efficient tax collection machinery, the Centre has money to throw around at problems it is too lazy or powerless to solve — farmers deaths’, oil price rise, reservations in apex elite institutions of higher education. The money may never get there but at least gestures are made.
But terrorism cannot be and will not be bribed away. Jaipur has shown how flimsy the anti-terrorism fight has become in India. Rather than worry about protecting the citizens or even finding the culprits, the first worry is to ‘avoid Gujarat’, say nothing which will antagonise the Muslim (why use the weasel word ‘minority’?) community. The simple fact is that no one is saying All Muslims are Terrorists. Only that today all, if not most, terrorist activity aimed against urban India as indeed against urban areas around the world is instigated by Muslims who have embraced the Islamist creed of Osama Bin Laden. Most Muslims are victims of this nasty philosophy as are the non-Muslims around the world.

It is a lazy security service which blames Pakistan or Lashkar-e-Toiba or SIMI even before a single investigation has been carried out. In the UK, painstaking surveillance has been used to stop plots to blow people up in their tracks before the plotters get a chance. Mobile telephones and emails and websites are monitored ceaselessly to get the evidence to convict potential terrorists. Meticulous care has to be taken to search the crime scene for any and all forensic clues. One cannot afford to clean the area up for a VIP visit as often happens in India where the 10 minutes kowtowing at the feet of the VIP is worth far more for a policeman’s career than saving a thousand lives.

The fact is that be it the surrender at Kandahar or the appalling and repeated incidents of terrorist activities which have occurred and will recur, nothing shames the political leadership of UPA, NDA or any other concoction. They’d much rather score points against each other than protect the public. They are safe behind their triple Z security and citizens can go hang. Even where people are caught, no one gets even presented to court much less convicted, for decades. Even in communal riots, the same sad story is told. No one can be blamed if there is a single member of any of the 200 political parties who can claim to be related to the culprit. Trials can be postponed or shifted or just botched.

There is no shortage of bodies, commissions, reports, initiatives, panels upon panels of experts and yet no safety for citizens. The Centre has become non-functional in internal security as the tragic farce over Naxalite insurgency shows. Parties sympathetic to terrorists, be they Tamil nationalists of Eelam or left wing fellow traveller terrorists, can be safely in power, if not in office, at the Centre. They have only to profess to be anti-communal; to be anti-terrorist is not required.

It is difficult to see when and how this situation will be reversed. If the political system is not willing to crack the whip and take internal security seriously, then no amount of new legislation or central agencies will matter. The system is divided in the way it perceives citizens. The idea that all Indians are citizens subject to the same laws has eroded since Independence. Each individual has value to the extent of the votebank to which she belongs. If you’re not part of a votebank, tough luck.

Whenever general elections happen, there will be no resolution of this problem. There will be no single party majority government and another fractured coalition will take office. This coalition will also boast of some philosophy — Hindutva or secularism or anti-imperialism — but it will be stuck in the same spineless attitude about threats to internal security. Maybe there is not enough money to be made for politicians fighting internal terrorists as there is in buying defence equipment or in starting SEZs or bossing over drug companies or spending infrastructure funds. It is even more fun running the cricket board and T-20 league than in caring about hunger and food supplies.

As the anarchist jibe says whoever wins the Government always gets back. Stay alive if you can.

By Megnad Desai in DNA Newspaper, Page-11, dated 01/06/08