The Gujarat verdict, which returned Narendra Modi to power for the third time, was on expected lines. Although Modi-brand was in full play, the fact is the people of Gujarat did not have an alternative leader in the opposition. The Congress conceded Gujarat to Mr. Modi even before the election process began. In the one-man show that followed, even the top BJP leaders were mere spectators.
Mr. Modi started his victory speech saying “Get used to me speaking in Hindi.” If the BJP leaders in Delhi understand the nation’s mood, they can make Mr. Modi the prime ministerial candidate for 2014. But the fight for supremacy in the party can dilute Mr. Modi’s claim.
The results of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections were neither satisfying nor disappointing for the two national parties, the main stakeholders in the contest.
However, the verdicts can be construed as a pointer to the elections to some other State Assemblies in 2013 and the Lok Sabha in 2014. Two factors that have emerged are: people do not really care about the charges of corruption mounted by the BJP on the Congress, which is evident from the Himachal Pradesh result. Similarly, the Congress attack on the BJP did not stop Mr. Modi from winning in Gujarat. People reposed their faith in him and his governance.
Arulur N. Balasubramanian,
The Congress conceded an easy victory to the Modi-led BJP in Gujarat. While the Chief Minister mounted a systematic election campaign and cultivated an aura of good governance, growth and development around himself, the Congress relied chiefly on a leaderless campaign and hoped to ride piggyback on the likes of Keshubhai Patel, Shankarsinh Vagela and Gordhan Zadaphia. The minorities, who the Congress presumes are its vote bank, seem to have trusted Mr. Modi more than these three leaders.
The Gujarat election could be a game changer in the sense that it may change the rules of the game. People have voted for positivity rather than negativity based on divisive vote bank politics.
The BJP has always boasted of a collective leadership. But it now appears to be a thing of the past because Mr. Modi behaves as if he is above the party. All top leaders of the BJP watched silently as Mr. Modi unleashed a subtle communal campaign.
The BJP was on the defensive for the past 20 years. But a new crisis in economy and the numerous scams put the UPA government’s credibility in serious doubt. Since the Central BJP leadership had no alternative policy, Mr. Modi sensed his opportunity to fill the gap. Before other BJP leaders could understand what was happening, he became the sole master. Hatred for Muslims is prevalent in Gujarat even now. Muslims live in shock and fear. They are led to believe that they have no choice other than surrendering to Mr. Modi. There is some consolation in the result. Mr. Modi’s victory was not as resounding as expected by many.
Promotion & quota
Reservation for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in promotion will only sow another seed of division on the basis of caste. Many leaders may be right in pointing to the discrimination suffered by them in promotions. But one is dismayed to see that none of them spoke of the discrimination based on other grounds like, say, gender. Instead of striving for a mechanism that would ensure action against discrimination, our leaders are advocating reservation as a solution. Worse, some supporters of reservation treat it as a right instead of a need.
I have a few questions for pro-reservationists: why are they critical of Manu and the system he created when they want reservation on his model of social stratification? Will reservation lead to a classless, casteless society which our democratic system is aspiring to be? Are all well-researched socio-economic data reliable enough to identify the real needy? Will the poorest of the poor benefit from reservation?
If the UPA government is sincere about implementing quota in promotion, it should adopt a scheme that envisages proportionate representation of the SCs and the STs, by inducting candidates with requisite eligibility through direct recruitment to higher posts. It will provide an opening for all eligible candidates in service and to those from outside. Thus efficiency will not be compromised.
In order to make reservation more meaningful, it can be said that the second generation of SC/ST employees should be considered only when first generation applicants are not available. The aim should be to provide reservation to at least one generation within a reasonable time since we have not achieved the desired result even after 60 years with reservation.
Another important aspect is that in Central services, recruitments are not in the proportion of 15 per cent for the SCs and seven-and-a-half per cent for the STs from all States. Reservation is different in each State depending on the SC/ST population. How, then, can promotion be filled up in this ratio?
Dealing with crime
The Delhi gang rape has rightly agitated all right-thinking people. The official response is on expected lines — will bring culprits to book, fast track the case and so on. The tragedy is, another similar incident will recur with exactly similar public outcry and state reaction.
The reason: the government has degraded the police to the level of a private security force for politicians, the rich and powerful. Unless the police become professional, the people of India cannot hope for anything better.
It is easy to blame the government, the police, and the criminal justice system. But it is society that is basically responsible for such acts. Son preference and the notion that women are the repository of family honour are deep rooted in our society. The solution lies not in enacting new laws, augmenting police force and creating more number of courts. Only a systemic change coupled with a change in mindset will make a difference.
M. Mohamed Jalaludeen,
The police should change their behaviour towards rape victims. Often, they are abused and denied help at police stations.
The police can perhaps offer the victim at least a glass of water and assure her that they are with her?
Female foeticide and dowry demands have resulted in a male-female ratio imbalance. Social taboo, the obstacles to the mingling of sexes, and a ban on prostitution have led to young men being sexually suppressed. Movies have added fuel to the fire.
Only a sustained, and effective campaign by film, television, radio, print media, religious leaders and government agencies can change this mindset and help reverse the ratio decline, but it will take a generation. In the meanwhile, better policing, forensic facilities and stricter and faster judgments may help deter such crimes.