It is tempting to trace the genesis and the cause(s) of the unfolding scenario of all round loss of institutional credibility in India, which is now striking at the very root of the democracy itself. It didn’t happen overnight; it has been wreaked by misplaced hubris, complacency and most importantly by deception and dishonesty. Corruption at every level has been one of the key demeaning and debasing factors in the affairs of the country and its people. In contrast to common perception the corruption per se is not cause of the prevailing decadence, rather it is product of oblivion and duplicity practiced by all those who mattered in any form, over the years on issues that required deep understandings and diligence for attaining lasting solutions. Instead of solutions, powers to be in Indian hierarchy chose to misuse rather abuse apparatus of the state including armed forces for quelling dissent through repressive measures and in the process unleashing its own reign of terror in certain parts of the country. Nothing can exemplify this phenomenon better that India’s handling of Kashmir through grant of unlimited powers to armed forces.
Kashmir problem has its origin in constitutional deception perpetrated by successive Indian governments and clumsy handling of the place and its people. That ineptness of Indian government and its every single department led to more than two decade long violence that affected anybody or everybody connected with Kashmir. In its single one-point of agenda of keeping Kashmir within Indian state, the Indian government through its armed forces unleashed its own reign of terror. The total subjugation of the population was attained through blanket immunity to the forces. To say that excesses were committed would be a colossal understatement. There is a long catalog of all sorts of killings, fake encounters and persons disappeared without traces; if that were not enough there is always heaping of scornful humiliations on the population in Kashmir. Members of armed forces are exempt from any sort of prosecution under an act in place since 1990s. Even transition to unarmed struggle in Kashmir failed to induce any change in tactic or thinking on the part of Indian government and its armed forces in Kashmir. A slightest hint of a discussion about the modification AFSPA by any civilian authority in the country has always been met with violently vocal response from military and its commanders. The absence of any attempt by civilian authorities to reign in its military officials from public airing of their views has not only been conspicuous but now it would seem to have started to have its affect on the very democratic roots of the system. Those who dismiss the whole issue of a single General creating an unprecedented ruckus probably underestimate fragility of democracy, a system that is already under siege. But then deception always invites wrathful retribution.
Over past one year another assault on the very foundations of Indian democracy has come from vested interests with their disparate agenda joined together in the garb of fight against corruption. The bizarre team consisted of individuals with limited understanding of complex issues and strong ties with saffron forces looking for a power grab. The fight against corruption, as they understand, might have succeeded in catching fancy of gullible urbane middle-classes, who in their materialistic trance would never understand the vested interests driving that organization of individuals with dubious intentions. As Arundhati Roy put it, with their accountant’s understanding of corruption the constituency of that organization and clownish individuals does not run beyond Jantar Mantar. Nevertheless, their antics do have potential to bring democratic institutions in disrepute and that they did. They might be limited by their grasp of the issues but they do seem to have accomplices within the government, who for them leak incomplete audit reports at appropriate junctions. It might be a right place to remind about the observation of Liberhans Commission about the infiltration by right wing ideologues and their sympathizers at every level of government.
The ultimate blame, nevertheless, lies with the government not for not creating a so-called body to remove corruption as dimwits think, but rather pursuing hollow and unjust policies. It failed in Kashmir. It failed to impress supremacy of civilian authority in a democracy to its army officials. It pandered to the vested corporate interests at the cost of tribal population. It failed to bring succor to the farmers, who continue take their lives. It decorated officials involved in crimes. Not a single voice condemned the crime perpetrated on Soni Suri. If the system falls under its weight, will it be still a surprise?