RAM JETHMALANI
ETHICS & POWER

Ram Jethmalani is a senior politician and eminent lawyer.

Congress government under the shadow of extinction

anguage has exhausted itself in describing the year gone by. Every bleak and hopeless analogy has been used: annus horribilis, the year of the scam, the year of the corrupt, the year of nemesis, etc. The ancient Maya civilisation has left for us a blood curdling prophesy, the world will come to an end in December 2012. This may not be true, but the Congress government, submerged in filth, without anyone with inclination, much less courage, to redeem or purify the party is certainly going to end. Anna Hazare may be exhausted or ambivalent, but the people have grasped the truth that their destitution is the direct result of the dacoities perpetrated over the years on their sparse assets. Congress leaders in the Rajya Sabha on the last day of the Lokpal sitting were not prepared even to hear this. Like a pusillanimous child that instinctively tries to crush an insect it dare not look at, they scoffed at the glaring evidence, abused their opponents, plunged the House in chaos and with the illegitimate assistance of the Chair avoided an adverse vote of virtual no confidence. But the interrupted story must be told and completed for lighting up the critical faculties of the nation, the ultimate sovereign and master.

2011 for India was indeed a watershed year — a year when India proved to its people and the world that along with its 8% growth, it had almost succeeded in reaching the status of a failed state as far as governance was concerned. On the world stage, we stood as a failed state aspiring to be a world power. Any pampering of India done by world leaders was not because of our great governance, but out of sheer lust for our markets, made possible only through our humongous population with expendable income (mostly undeclared or untaxed), be it multi-brand retail, cosmetics, European wine (for which I believe import duty has substantially been reduced), luxury cars, or nuclear reactors. The list goes on and our economists and decision makers salivate.

Undoubtedly, we qualify quite substantially to be a failed state, as per the benchmarks defined by Noam Chomsky. Government has lost control of at least one third of the territory to Naxalites, Maoist groups and separatists, and also lost the monopoly on legitimate use of force in these areas that are ruled by armed groups repeatedly and successfully using force against the state. Corruption and criminality are rampant in the delivery of public services that can only be had by an under-the-table rental. Endemic political corruption has been legitimised, as has illegal profiteering by ruling elites that are resistant to transparency and accountability. Corruption underpins every governmental interface with the people and organisations. Effective political-bureaucratic, political-corporate and corporate-bureaucratic networks operate smoothly and efficiently and have replaced the statute and rule book. And throughout the last year, the people made it abundantly clear that they had lost faith in state institutions and processes. Only this accounts for the crowds that Anna attracted for a long time.

The conduct of core state functions such as legislation and foreign relations reached their nadir. The government seems to have lost the knowledge and capacity to produce a legislation that is worthy of being tabled in Parliament. Take the case of the abortive FDI Bill, where not even basic homework or consultations with the UPA allies had taken place. The Bill had to be hastily withdrawn by an utterly humiliated but brazen and unashamed government. Whether through utter casualness coupled with arrogance, or whether through internal sabotage, such things only happen in a failed state.

Or take the case of the infamous Jan Lokpal Bill. A sizeable number of Congressmen absented themselves from the Lok Sabha, and UPA constituents opposed the bill. After the Lalu supari and choreographed sequences were flashed on television screens, the mala fides of the government were completely exposed. From the proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, the nation, I mean the perceptive sector of it got conclusive evidence that the scam ridden Congress had no intention of releasing the country's major investigating agency from its evil grip or exorcising the demon of corruption or exposing the thieves in their ranks who by prolonged larceny have impoverished the nation and need to be outlawed for ever from the corridors of political power. It is clear that the worthless ruling faculty has succeeded in totally subtracting from its supporters the critical faculty of judging. It was evident even to a law student with elementary knowledge of Constitutional Law that Part III of the bill consisting of Sections 63 to 97 dealing with Lokayuktas in the states was clearly ultra vires, unless the Constitution was amended as provided in the Amendment-Bill simultaneously presented to the Lok Sabha. The government's pre-concerted conspiracy saw to it that the bill will not pass. When it did not, the fate of the Lokpal Bill was sealed. Two ministers had declared that the Lokpal Bill was legislation under Entry One in the concurrent list. I have not seen such Constitutional ignoramuses.

They obviously read half the entry, the remaining half being a little too difficult for their subnormal legal brain. The recitals in the Preamble to the Bill seemed to rely instead on Entry Thirteen in the Union List. The draftsman knew nothing of the doctrine of "pith and substance". The bill was not implementing any binding decision taken at an international conference.

he much hyped National Food Security Bill appeared to be another non starter, a bill that has failed to precisely define the target group, failed to define the nature of the entitlement, and failed to devise a methodology for achieving its confused objective.

2011 was also a year of uncanny exposures that gave further insights into the failure of the State. UPA's honeymoon with fooling the people came to an end. Government closets full of murky secrets mysteriously swung open, and out tumbled the scams, one after another, shocking and disgusting the nation, and tearing the UPA mask. The myth of Manmohan Singh's honesty was shattered and the duplicity of Sonia Gandhi's silence completely exposed. The forbidden happened and Sonia Gandhi was forced to stomach the ultimate heresy by her perceived subjects in hearing public charges made against her regarding her involvement in a series of scams, whether in the tainted Thomas affair, the Commonwealth Games scandal (that confirmed our status as a failed state internationally), the 2G scam, or the midnight crackdown on Baba Ramdev's peaceful gathering.

2011 has been the year of the Failed State, its Central Core dehydrated and breathing its last and uttering gibberish. Its limbs are scattered directionlessly. Whatever life is left is engaged only in survival acrobatics and dynastic succession. Its governing organs have already failed.

 
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