20 July 2019 02:16 AM

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RASHMI OBEROI | 4 APRIL, 2019

Lok Sabha 2019: We, The Voters Are Screwed Big Time

Surveys show that trust in the government has sunk to a historic low


How does one make people…and specifically Bhakts understand that if one doesn’t like the present government it doesn’t mean we are Congress lovers… Their thick skulls just don’t get it that we the people of this country have the right to like or not like a particular government, the opposition or any political party and we are allowed to justifiably exercise that option.

We are paying a heavy price for a lousy government…an inept opposition and a multitude of political parties who don’t know where they are coming from. We are screwed big time.

Governments can fail their people in three basic ways: they can fail to deliver vital services. They can deliver them but do it poorly and expensively, while favouring political cronies. And they can crunch the people under foot as government officials accumulate more power with less accountability. Indians now say their government is failing them in all three ways, according to recent polls. Voters are angry — and with good reason. Surveys show that trust in the government has sunk to historic lows and is still dropping. The armed forces specifically have been given a raw deal – not surprising though.

Every government's most basic service is to ensure public safety. We are failing badly in our worst urban neighbourhoods. Innocent citizens live in constant danger from gang violence, rape and shootings. Local governments are unable to cope with the fundamental problems: the breakdown of family structure, poor education and lack of jobs. The failure of order is increasingly obvious at the national level, too.

The purpose of a government is to preserve people’s natural rights. People have the right to life, freedom, and the quest for happiness. The government is given power by the consent of the people. The people give government power so that it can protect those fundamental rights. If the government does things that take away our fundamental rights, it is abusing its power. In that case, it is our right to change the government.

In other words, when a government does not protect the inalienable rights that are due to its constituents, the people have the right to change or get rid of it and to start a new government that will bring about their safety and happiness. But that is only possible if we have a dependable opposition or political parties that can lead. We are lacking here and I really hope we have a new generation of leaders that can bring about change – the right change in a positive manner.

Vigilante violence aimed at religious minorities, marginalized communities, and critics of the government - often carried out by groups claiming to support the ruling party have become an increasing threat in India. Many senior leaders publicly who promoted Hindu supremacy and ultra-nationalism, have encouraged further violence. Dissent has been labelled anti-national, and activists, journalists, and academics are targeted for their views, unsettling free expression.

Mob attacks are in fashion and heinous crimes have been unchecked or punished. Instead of taking prompt legal action against the attackers, the police have frequently filed complaints against the victims. Tribal communities continue to remain vulnerable to displacement because of mining, dams, and other large infrastructure projects.

Authorities in India continue to use sedition and criminal defamation laws against government critics. Journalists face increasing pressure to self-censor due to threat of legal action, smear campaigns and threats on social media, and even threats of physical attacks. Multiple high-profile cases of rape across the country have exposed the failures of the criminal justice system.

Our various teetering governments have cost us in lives, income and welfare in the past few decades. From a basic human welfare perspective, the past few years have been a disaster. The tragedy of this situation is that it suits those in power to have these conditions. Likewise, poor people are totally vulnerable to pressure, threats and patronage. And then there are the straight forward abuses of human rights and the rule of law. But the greatest tragedy is all these lost years, for millions, simply to serve the narrow selfish interests of a tiny minority who think they have a right to this because they were involved in the struggle to throw off the mantle of settler control. Their failure as a Government is failure which taints the whole of India and we deserve better.

The cost of all that despotism has been stultifying. Millions of lives have been lost, economies have collapsed, and whole states have failed under brutal repression. And what has made it worse is that our leaders are in constant denial.

With voting round the corner, who do we vote for? We are stuck between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea!
 

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