The will, freedom to make unbiased choices

The will, freedom to make unbiased choices, be it for change, leadership Ganesh Pyne- Painter on people leading change in India Empowered by Indian Express

Born in the pre-Independence period, I lived through the glorious days of the freedom struggle. Young and impressionable then, the unfolding of events, the tumultuous years of struggle followed by the jubilation of being ‘‘free’ at last, all this had a tremendous impact on me.

But gradually I grew up to learn that we are a Third World nation, cast away as the ‘‘darker’’ side of the world. Today we have come a long way with the world acknowledging us as an emerging economic super power. But more than half a century later, the questions that crop up in my mind is that are we actually free? Are we empowered? Is empowerment all about money power? I confess that the current scenario leaves me disillusioned.

We talk of economic boom and simultaneously read disturbing reports about starvation deaths in the remote villages. We talk of big investments and big money which does not trickle down to the lower rungs of society. The rich are getting richer by the day, while the poorest of the poor are sucked into the vortex of poverty. Is that the empowerment we proudly boast of?

Empowerment to me is not the glaring disparity in lifestyles we see today. Rather, it is a nation where citizens enjoy equal privileges, where the common folk are educated and aware enough to make unbiased choices on their own, where the people are true representatives of the Gandhian way of thought.

Isn’t it a shame that numerous cases of tax evasions go unchecked while bankrupt state treasuries are unable to spend on development? And somehow we commoners have lost the will to protest and speak out. Isn’t it tragic that a nation as rich in resources as India is still stagnating at the bottom and all we do is lament about what could have been done. I feel helpless when the administration throws up its hands and candidly declares ‘‘we are sorry for the time lost, we should have done this but have failed.’’ Can we commoners be hopeful, if the bureaucracy with all its machinery, is basking in complacency?

Empowerment is also about the strong political motivation to make a positive change, to steer the citizens to the goal of common welfare. At times, the cynic in me can’t help but doubt the ulterior motive of the men at the helm. Perhaps the poverty-stricken, uneducated masses serve their selfish needs better.

When will political parties forget mutual rivalries and unite to work for the betterment of India, a nation which does not deserve to languish in absolute abjection. I, as a citizen of the largest democracy in the world, do not have much faith in this democracy. The entire process of election, however exaggerated it may sound, is a farce. Do we really have a choice? A choice where we can actually ‘‘choose’’ between ideologies and are not forced to opt for a corrupt or fascist regime.

Empowerment is only possible when today’s bright and erudite young men and women do not make a conscious decision to stay away from active politics and make way for musclemen and goons to call the shots in legislative assemblies and Parliament.

Today, quite disappointingly, the executive has been rendered ineffective and paralysed and the judiciary has to take up the cudgels on its behalf, with its timely intervention when situations go out of hand. It is an unfortunate trend and only reconfirms one’s forebodings about the prevalent administrative system.

But autocracy can never be the alternative. What we need to do is to mobilise the masses at the grassroots and make them aware about their potential, their power to change things for a better life. Only then can we be truly empowered. I am still hopeful.

Apycom jQuery Menus