Secularism has come to stay in India

Joginder Singh ji
( Former CBI director )
The final results of general elections 2009 have gone beyond the wildest expectations of election pundits. The Congress has won 200-plus seats on its own and along with its allies is just a dozen short of absolute majority. There is no doubt that in the next few days many fence-sitters will jump to join the government for loaves and fishes.
Many hopefuls for prime ministership from the Third and Fourth Front have fallen by the wayside. Parties which had fielded a large number of criminals, in the hope that they would be able to intimidate the voters, are eating humble pie. The collective judgment of the people of India has proved many soothsayers, sycophants and messiahs of caste and religion-based politics wrong. Indeed, whatever be the constraints, secularism has come to stay in the country.
Now that the heat and acrimony, which to some extent is natural in electoral battles, has died down, a lot of activity on the political front will begin. Allies will naturally demand their pound of flesh in the form of plum portfolios, apart from jobs in committees, commissions and government departments for their sympathisers, cronies and supporters. Parties will pull in different directions to meet their regional and caste-based interests, governance is bound to be compromised further. Still, the government must focus on governance and have a road map on what its agenda should be.
In view of the promises made during elections, the government’s agenda will be complex and heavy. The most nagging and destructive problem facing the country today is corruption, which regrettably found no mention in the manifesto of any political party.
Approximately Rs 45 crores, in cash, were seized in raids across five states till phase-II of elections (April 23, 2009). This is only the “tip of the iceberg”. Estimates of the amount of black money used in these elections put the figure between Rs 10,000-14,000 crores.
An interesting revelation during this election was that about 15 per cent of the candidates were crorepatis and 70 per cent didn’t own a Pan Card. If the menace of black money and corruption is to be stopped, the first thing the government should do is to check how much tax these people have been paying.
The common man is sick of corruption and malpractices and he looks to the government of the day to solve this problem. But this is possible only if there is prompt justice and punishment to the guilty. The present scenario of 20 million cases pending in Indian courts does not give any hope of quick resolution. The government should do whatever is required, administratively and legally, to ensure that nobody has to wait for justice beyond one-two years.
According to a UN Development Programme report, in 2007-08, all the 3,32,141 cases that came up before the Delhi high court were heard for five minutes each (four minutes 55 seconds, to be precise). Each minute of the court’s time costs the taxpayer an astounding Rs 6,327, or Rs 19,93,180 for a working day. The Delhi high court chief justice added that at the present rate of disposal, it would take 466 years for the high court to clear its backlog.
In all our scams from Harshad Mehta to Ketan Parekh to Satyam, every conceivable agency — the police, banks, stock exchange, corporates — gets dragged into the investigation because some obscure and outdated law mentions its role. The result is that responsibility gets diffused or is shared which in actual practice means that nobody is held responsible.
Another important problem is that of security and terrorism, whether from across the border or from the motley groups within. The Centre should openly and squarely accept the responsibility for tackling terrorism within the country and provide states with training and equipment, rather than giving loans or grants. Apart from the threat to people’s life and liberty, terrorism also adversely affects foreign direct investment in the country.
More than anything else we need a stable government, in the absence of which, those meant to govern will spend most of their time trying to extend their lifeline through negotiations, twists, wheeling-dealing and bending backwards. Of course, coalition governments are the art of the possible, where partners function as independent centres of power despite the agreed common-minimum programme. Aristotle once said, “Three groups spend other people’s money: children, thieves, politicians. All three need supervision”. Let us hope the new government will supervise itself and do a good job of it.

in actual practice means that nobody is held responsible.
Another important problem is that of security and terrorism, whether from across the border or from the motley groups within. The Centre should openly and squarely accept the responsibility for tackling terrorism within the country and provide states with training and equipment, rather than giving loans or grants. Apart from the threat to people’s life and liberty, terrorism also adversely affects foreign direct investment in the country.
More than anything else we need a stable government, in the absence of which, those meant to govern will spend most of their time trying to extend their lifeline through negotiations, twists, wheeling-dealing and bending backwards. Of course, coalition governments are the art of the possible, where partners function as independent centres of power despite the agreed common-minimum programme. Aristotle once said, “Three groups spend other people’s money: children, thieves, politicians. All three need supervision”. Let us hope the new government will supervise itself and do a good job of it.

ctual practice means that nobody is held responsible.
Another important problem is that of security and terrorism, whether from across the border or from the motley groups within. The Centre should openly and squarely accept the responsibility for tackling terrorism within the country and provide states with training and equipment, rather than giving loans or grants. Apart from the threat to people’s life and liberty, terrorism also adversely affects foreign direct investment in the country.
More than anything else we need a stable government, in the absence of which, those meant to govern will spend most of their time trying to extend their lifeline through negotiations, twists, wheeling-dealing and bending backwards. Of course, coalition governments are the art of the possible, where partners function as independent centres of power despite the agreed common-minimum programme. Aristotle once said, “Three groups spend other people’s money: children, thieves, politicians. All three need supervision”. Let us hope the new government will supervise itself and do a good job of it.

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