Dear Dr. Manmohan Singhji,
I do not envy you or your job because it is certainly the toughest job in the world. At times it appears to be tougher than being the President of the United States of America. At least he does not have to contend with coalitions, and activism and hostile neighbors. The US President also has the support of strong institutions to help him govern. While this puts limits on his own authority, it also limits the capacity of his opponents and other players. Unfortunately this is not so in India.
Therefore the first thing that you as a Prime Minister can do is to revisit the framework of institutions which govern this country.
Some of them have broken down and need fixing while some of them are redundant and need complete overhaul. Also, some of them need to be created afresh in order to handle the challenges of an evolving environment.
Ironically very little is being done by your government in this regard.
On the contrary here is an attempt to challenge, browbeat and weaken those institutions which are not supposedly towing the line. The essence of democracy is debate. The essence of debate is disagreement. Therefore in order to strengthen democracy we should allow for such disagreement to flourish.
Please follow the example of Jawaharlal Nehru who was the founder of our democracy and whose firm belief in the concept of debate and disagreement has left us a legacy we are proud of. You and your party owe it to the country to carry on and strengthen his legacy, more so because you claim inheritance to his legacy and seek votes in the name of his dynasty.
There is need for you to introspect as to how is it that your team allows young women to be imprisoned for a harmless comment on Facebook. What happened to the guaranteed freedom of speech? The same politicians who complain of limits on expression have no limits on their behavior inside the parliament and the legislatures. They have no control over their language when they are addressing election rallies or abusing their opponents. They have no respect for others’ beliefs when they are inciting religious mobs.
Are we therefore to say that one is free to express if one is protected by a mob and not when you are alone? So you can challenge the constitution if you are part of a Khap, or abuse others if you are part of a political party and not even express a view if you are alone? And look at the deafening silence from your party and your leadership compared to the shrill defense of Robert Vadra.
You will go down in history as a great Prime Minister if you stood for something. While you may believe that high economic growth rate will be your legacy I doubt if that is greatness. Indira Gandhi has been viewed as the greatest Indian Prime Minister. Her legacy is not high economic growth rate. So is not the legacy of Nehru or for that matter Rajiv Gandhi. All of them were great Prime Ministers from your party.
Jawaharlal Nehru pushed through the Hindu Code bill in spite of opposition from even the President. What is it that you stand for Mr. Prime Minister apart from high economic growth rate?
Societies flourish because of social constructs. Economic activity is an outcome of that construct. It is not the other way round.
I suggest therefore that you as our leader focus on the issues which will create an environment for great economic growth rate. So please visit the basics of our constitution.
- Guarantee us our freedom of speech. Come out strongly as a person and as a leader against any attempts to curb it. Remember that in the history of the world only those who have been criticized have been remembered, and not those who criticize. People have forgotten the names of those who crucified Jesus and yet remember Jesus. People have forgotten the names of those who poisoned Socrates and remember Socrates. People have forgotten those who tortured and killed our Sikh gurus but remember the Gurus and their teachings. You have a choice to be forgotten or remembered.
- Guarantee us our right to Justice. Why can’t we have more judges and clear the backlog of cases. I don’t not see why we as a country cannot find the resources to set them up? It is miniscule compared to all the subsidies that we keep giving. Yet when it comes to discussion on the judiciary we are short on resources. Overhaul laws which give an advantage to the rich and leave the poor at a disadvantage. You can begin by providing justice to the riot victims all over the country. By putting all cases against political leaders on a fast track to be decided in a time bound manner. You would then tell the world by your actions that in our great country justice is available for all.
- Guarantee basic services of Health and Education to all. Three percent of families get pushed into poverty because of health related bankruptcy. If we ensured health services to all, in ten years we could pull everybody out of poverty. Education to all will ensure that the next generation will usher in a great India which is aware and alive.
Please pause and ponder if these suggestions help your goal of high economic growth rate.
If we provide freedom of expression to all we ensure that we are transparent as a society, and fuel a climate of debate an innovation. The USA which you greatly admire, and rightly so, thrives on innovation. They will continue to be world leaders if they continue to be innovation leaders. By guaranteeing the right to expression we will ensure innovation in all spheres of our life.
By guaranteeing justice we ensure peace. You are wise enough to know that the enormous sums which we are spending in Kashmir and Naxal affected areas is largely because our brothers and sisters there have been denied basic justice. People take to arms not as a first choice, but because they have no other choice. If you give them justice then these enormous sums being spent can be used for development.
By guaranteeing health and education you lay the foundations of a healthy and educated workforce which is the requirement of any vibrant economy.
Mr. Prime Minister, please by all means pursue your agenda of high growth rate but consider these suggestions and maybe you would have achieved the same objective in a more sustained manner.
That will truly be a great legacy to leave behind.
Udayan Dravid is a management professional with years of experience in a variety of fields. To read more of his articles, you can visit udayandravid.com
Image Courtesy: [The Viewspaper]
Disclaimer: The above article is the personal opinion of the author and not of the publication.