Even from the depths of gloom, human nature longs for happiness.
At the dawn of a new year the longing surfaces with vigorous anticipation. This time the anticipation has a desperate edge to it because, during the year that has just gone, our trust in many of our institutions and individuals was shattered.
We badly need to restore that trust; without trust in the basic structure of society and the custodians of that structure, survival itself would be under threat.
So how do we get back our faith in the system?
What the citizen can do by way of action is limited. But we can dream.
Dreaming is a way to reshape reality closer to our heart’s desire. A means to harmless pleasure. It’s one freedom we enjoy unfettered, one human right no politician or policeman can take away from us.
# 1. That Manmohan Singh will abandon his silences and act and speak up like a Prime Minister. He has it in him as he showed while pushing the civil nuclear bill with an iron will. If we dream hard enough, maybe he will show more of that iron.
# 2. That India will stop kow-towing to America. The Reserve Bank’s decision to stop a 35-year-old arrangement for the purchase of Iranian oil is not only a surrender to American pressure and therefore a disgrace; it is also potentially dangerous because the sudden stoppage of $11 billion worth of oil imports can lead to catastrophic price spiralling across the board. And what do we get in return from America? Stupid body searches of even our senior diplomats at US airports – which of course we take obediently lying down.
# 3. That Sonia Gandhi will give up being the deity of the Congress and its government. Such is her unstated mightiness that when the Congress takes a stubbon stand perceived as wrong, her hand is suspected. From Bofors to the present PAC stalemate, the stubbornness has been so hard-core, unbending, relentless that an explanation-seeking public could only suspect her hand. That kind of omnipotence does her no good. It does the country no good.
# 4. That the unseen coteries in Delhi enjoying power without responsibility will either stop wielding power or come out into the open and be accountable. The coteries comprise the likes of Ahmad Patel, T.K.A. Nair of the PMO, Christie Fernandes of Rashtrapathi Bhavan and Vincent George of 10 Janpath.
# 5. That India will start punishing the corrupt. Not necessarily like the Chinese who shoot top people like mayors and CEOs found to be corrupt, but at least like the US where CEOs caught in fraud get quick trials followed by jail sentences.
# 6. That agencies like the CBI and police will get the autonomy without which they become a menace instead of the cleanser they are supposed to be. Political shackling of such institutions is at the core of India becoming a corrupt and corrupting democracy.
# 7. That the two remaining pillars of our democracy, the judiciary and the media, will realise that they will cease having any meaning if they cease having any credibility.
# 8. That all those in positions of influence, from ministers to journalists, will pay heed to a phrase Sonia Gandhi used: “Our shrinking moral universe”. It is their action/inaction that caused the shrinking. So – stop preaching, start doing something.
# 9. That our political parties will at least camouflage their hypocrisies instead of making them so blatant as to insult the intelligence of voters. BJP chief Nitin Gadkari proclaimed before camera that B.S. Yediyurappa was okay because his actions were “only immoral, not illegal”. From a party that pretends to be moral to the core, what unashamed duplicity!
With all those dreams lighting up our horizons, let us also have one solitary wish as well: That the Good Lord have mercy upon us for we are unlikely to get it from any other source.