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AN ECSTASY

The most important kind of freedom


is to be what you really are
JIM MORRISON

In Indias 70th year of independence, prioritise


economic and governance reform

s India steps into its 70th year of independence today is a day


of celebration as well as a time to take stock. How well has
India been faring, and where do we go from here? Before
independence the Indian economy was stagnant during the first
half of the 20th century, with zero or negative per capita GDP
growth and near-universal poverty. GDP growth rate inched up
during the Nehruvian years of Soviet-style planning and the
licence raj, but Indias population exploded too and living standards
remained dismal. Its only the post-liberalisation years that saw a
significant rise in prosperity and big dents in poverty.
Simultaneously Indians have become far more connected than ever
before. Today they own a billion cellphones and two-thirds have a TV
set. This has sparked not only greater
awareness among electorates but also
a revolution of rising expectations,
with which living standards have not
kept up. Two years ago NDA tapped
into this current and Narendra Modi
became PM by promising development and acche din.
The Modi-led NDA government
has proven itself an incremental
reformer and acche din are not yet
visible. The jobs crisis, for example,
has led to youth agitations across the
country. But gains have been made in many areas. Ease of doing
business is improving slowly. Public investment in infrastructure is
picking up. GST is slowly materialising. Many UPA-era initiatives
have been rebranded and brought closer to realisation most notably
elements in the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar, mobile phones). But whether they can be used to prune subsidies and move to cash
transfers remains to be seen. There have been negative moves as well:
the unleashing of cow hysteria has affected Dalits, minorities and
poor farmers. The PM has now spoken up on this issue, albeit belatedly.
Perhaps Indias biggest lacuna remains what it has always been: the
poor quality of governance and lack of reform in this area. For example,
although government services in education and health are free or heavily
subsidised, poor people regularly flee them and pay exorbitantly for
equivalent services from the private sector. Law and order is failing,
urban infrastructure is foundering, institutions are deliberately
weakened by foisting political loyalists in place of qualified people
on them. To deliver acche din, alongside reforming the economy,
reforming and streamlining governance must henceforth receive the
highest priority from both the Centre and state governments.

Waiting For Justice


Resolve the faceoff over judges appointments fast,
it is really hurting citizens

n the year 2016 Indians deserve a modern and streamlined judicial


system. Instead what they are stuck with is a deficient structure
groaning under a great pendency of cases. And the crisis only
seems to be worsening, as a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur
has accused government of bringing the judiciary to a standstill by
stalling judges appointments.
This eyeball to eyeball confrontation is part of a prolonged battle
over the procedure to appoint judges. While the judicial collegium is
criticised for opacity and favouritism, the National Judicial Appointments Commission, which envisaged a broader panel to choose judges
and was passed by Parliament, was struck
down by the apex court in October 2015.
The longer government and the collegium
take to finalise a new memorandum of
procedure to appoint HC and SC judges,
the more citizens awaiting justice suffer.
In practical terms, the high courts are now
operating with 44.3% vacancies; pendency
has risen to four million cases.
Any attempt at securing justice is an ordeal on its own, and
financially ruinous for many people. As the CJI himself has noted, By
the time an appeal can be heard, the accused would already have
served a life sentence. Clearly the current clash of wills between the
executive and the judiciary has only worsened matters. Remember
that appointments had also remained frozen for nearly a year when the
apex court scrutinised the constitutional validity of the proposed
NJAC. Instead of wallowing on their respective sides of the legal
logjam, both government and the judiciary must show much more
teamsmanship not only to finalise a new procedure to appoint judges
but also to implement broader reforms to remedy judicial delays.

Indian democracy is largely stable after 70 years, but needs to fix its plumbing
R Jagannathan

In its 70th year of


independence, India is
hurtling towards an
unknown tryst with
long-promised destiny
in a way only Indians
know how to: chaotically and frenetically.
Driven by unfulfilled aspirations, excited
by possibilities of upending the existing
unequal social order through a million
everyday mutinies, buffeted by global and
technological changes that no one fully
understands, this uncontrolled energy is
propelled less by a clearly articulated
vision of the future than by an optimistic
belief that any change must be good.
Nothing illustrates this better than the
dash for GST a tax about which neither
states nor Centre know the ultimate outcome. A coalition of poor, consuming states
has convinced itself that it will gain revenues, and with the BJP government at the
centre seeing GST as a feather in its reformist crown, the voices of its own doubting
states, mainly Gujarat and Maharashtra,
were stilled. The pain in implementing
GST will come before the gain, but everyone is on board in a rush of hope over doubt.
Beyond economic reform, social tension is more apparent than national purpose. Kashmir valley is on the boil; the Jats of
Haryana, the Patidars of Gujarat, and
Dalits and Muslims everywhere are flexing their muscles. Muslims, once considered appendages of secular national and
regional parties, are now backing parties
of their own, just as Dalits and OBCs did in
the post-Mandal phase. No political party
can now claim the permanent loyalties of
any community or group, as each one discovers its own powers of agency. The new
sense of entitlement and empowerment is
what creates hope for positive change.
But India has never been fertile soil for
radical outcomes. Despite eruptions of
public anger when things go wrong often
amplified by media outrage the Indian
voter has developed a new maturity, an
understanding that political parties need
time to deliver. It is no coincidence that the
vast majority of Indian states gave either
their current incumbents, or the previous

ones, at least two terms in power.


This is because our politicians are
getting it: they know they have to deliver
something, even if they are not sure
what that needs to be. In the UPA years,
that something was seen to be about
delivering rights MGNREGA for jobs,
RTE for education, Food Security Act for
hunger and malnutrition, and the Land
Acquisition Act for delivering fair prices
for compulsorily acquired land. In the
states, that something has ranged from
giving free laptops (in UP), to prohibition
(in Kerala and Bihar), to low-priced food
kitchens (in Tamil Nadu), to job reservations for various allegedly disadvantaged
communities (Muslims here, Jats and
Gujjars somewhere else).
The Narendra Modi government has,
since mid-2014, taken the do something
credo to its logical extreme, creating a
whole host of schemes with grand titles
(Make in India, Digital India, StartUp India,
StandUp India, Jan DhanYojana, Swachh
Bharat, Pahal and Uday, to name just a few).

Our first-past-the-post
system means politicians
prefer giving specific
benefits to identifiable
groups, instead of public
goods like law and order
and universal education
that benefit all
But do something is reaching its
limits, often delivering suboptimal or even
negative results. The UPAs efforts to deliver
rights-based solutions have turned out to
be non-solutions, as rights create demand,
but dont guarantee supply of the demanded good or service. The Right to Education,
for example, has resulted in umpteen
school closures and lower learning outcomes as it focuses on infrastructure, studentteacher ratios and salaries. MGNREGA has
created boondoggles, not real jobs.

The reason why our solutions are


non-solutions even if they seem to work for
some time is simple: the design and institutional defects of Indian democracy have
not been addressed, leaving the state with a
poor capacity to enforce and execute.
Our first-past-the-post system ensures
majorities with 30-35% of the vote; this
means politicians prefer to work for some
communities rather than everybody.
They prefer giving specific benefits to
identifiable groups, instead of public
goods like law and order and universal
education that benefit all.
We have an unreformed electoral
funding system. We spend Rs 4,000-and-odd
crore every five years to give each MP Rs 5
crore annually to spend on his or her constituency (under MPLADS), but we do not
have state funding of elections that would
cost much less than this and reduce incentives for corruption. We have a judiciary
that is more interested in protecting its
right to choose judges or how BCCI should
be run than in improving the overall
delivery of justice. We have a Constitution
with a huge concurrent list, which sets
Centre against states. Every bad law, from
RTE to Land Acquisition and Food Security, emanates from this power diffusion.
The Constitution also protects minority
rights and institutions, which has been
interpreted to mean that majority institutions can be treated as personal property or
a political football, whether it is the state
administering temples or applying the
civil code selectively. That a law should
apply only to some and not others is the
ultimate repudiation of the rule of law.
At the end of the seventh decade of
freedom, the big picture of Indian democracy is that it is alive and kicking, and,
despite occasional lapses into insanity,
largely stable. What needs fixing is the
plumbing rewriting the letter and spirit
of the Constitution to reflect current
priorities, strengthening institutional autonomy, and devolving power even below
the level of states to cities and local bodies,
which is where true choice and democracy
thrive. Without this, we will remain a
weak state. A weak state cannot deliver,
even if the spirit is strong and willing.
The writer is editorial director of Swarajya

Glad NDA has learnt democracy not about obduracy and


arrogance but about dialogue and conversation
A thaw between government and opposition
enabled 13 bills, including the constitutional
amendment on GST, to be passed in
Parliaments monsoon session, the most
productive since 2014. Jyotiraditya
Scindia, Congress chief whip in Lok
Sabha, spoke to Nalin Mehta and
Sanjeev Singh about changing government-opposition equations and concerns
over the governments handling of Kashmir and cow vigilantes. Edited excerpts:
After the all-party meeting,
are you satisfied with steps
being taken on Kashmir?
We passed an all-party resolution in Parliament, Congress piloted it. I
personally spoke to the government and
said we must pass an all-party resolution
because the situation is very alarming.
We spoke to all political parties
across the spectrum. I spoke to Sudeep
Bandopadhyaya ji (Trinamool Congress), Bhartruhari Mahtab ji (Biju
Janta Dal), Anant Geete ji (Shiv Sena),
Mulayam Singh ji (SP), Jay Prakash
Narayan Yadav ji (RJD), Tariq Anwar ji
(NCP) and the Left: everyone was in full
agreement. I then coordinated with
Rajnath Singh ji and Ananth Kumar ji
and we passed the all-party resolution.
The situation is extremely alarming.
We urge the government to act to ensure
that there is peace and stability in the
region. There can be and there will be
no compromise with regard to unity and
integrity of our nation and national
security. Kashmir has always been and is
an integral and important part of India
and will always remain so.

Do you think the PM should have


spoken much earlier than he did on
Kashmir?
PM should have spoken much more on
many issues confronting the nation. As
the pradhan sevak, as he calls himself, 125
crore people expect him to voice his views
on many issues that may range from
Kashmir to price rise to unemployment
to Dalit atrocities, to the flood
situation, to failures in foreign
policy and with regard to
membership of the NSG.
There are multiple
issues but there has
been a studied silence by
the PM. He has made certain
statements but those have come
almost three weeks to a
month post the incident.
On Dalit atrocities, none
other than Babasaheb
Ambedkars grandson,
Prakash
Ambedkar,
himself has commented
on the PMs statement
that it is too-little-toolate. These four words
symbolise the governments response
on multiple issues.
What
is
your
position on talking
to
Hurriyat
and
separatists
in
Kashmir?
Congress partys
position on this is
extremely clear. Congress in its ten-year

tenure not only made sure that all


stakeholders were spoken to with regard
to the Kashmir issue but ensured peace
and stability in the region.
Now there is certainly a feeling of
distance and vacuum. There seems to
be a lack of communication between
Centre and state. There is also a
conflict within the state government. It is
almost like a marriage of hypocrisy
where you have two divergent
ideologies coming together to form
a government.
How do you react to the PMs
statement on cow vigilantes?
PM has given a very strong
statement where he has said
that 70% to 80% are antisocial elements. So my
question to the home
minister to which
we received no
response
and
which was one of
the reasons why
Congress party
walked out of the
house, is that if
PM himself has
said that 70% to
80% of the gau
rakshak samitis
are
anti-social
elements
then
what is the action
that this government
is going to take
against these antisocial
elements?
How are you going to

dilbert

identify them and how are you going to


take action against them? We got no
response.
Do you see any action being taken
on the ground?
No, not at all and if you do, kindly
enlighten me because i would be very
happy to be enlightened if there is action
on this front.
After GST Bill, are we seeing a
turning of the page in the government-Congress relationship?
The relationship between government and opposition in Parliament,
the tone and tenor of that dialogue,
is the responsibility of the government.
There was a great sense of obduracy,
confrontation, sense of arrogance, and a
steam-rolling attitude by this NDA
government in the first two years of its
tenure. It finally realised when it met
with a roadblock in the upper house that
this policy cannot last forever. This
enlightenment process took them a
period of two years and i am glad that it
has dawned on them that parliamentary
democracy is about dialogue and
conversation.
On GST, initially there were seven issues which we then lowered to three
that we insisted upon. It took this
government two years but it realised
that Congress was arguing in the interest
of the nation and finally relented and
agreed. I thank them for that.
Is this a template for how politics
will unfold from now on?
A month is a very long time in
politics so it will be very difficult for me
to tell you.

Sacredspace
Charter of Freedom

Azaadi@70

What is freedom?
No charter of freedom
will be worth looking at
which does not ensure
the same measure of
freedom for the minorities
as for the majority.

When freedom is a senior citizen,


is it fashionable to be un-free?
Sagarika.Ghose@timesgroup.com

The 70 Independence Day has dawned and were asking, is


man born free but everywhere in chains? When Kanhaiya
Kumar yelled, Hum kya chahte? Azaadi! in JNU, his azaadi
was soon put behind bars. These days even cows dont have a
free run, and with prohibition in Bihar, Kerala and already in
Gujarat, we may ask, where are the spirits of freedom? In those
states freedom has been taken down a peg or two.
When it comes to wearing jeans and mini-skirts were asking, are we hemmed
in? Women in shorts still dont have azaadi because theyre forced to realise that
for them freedoms still skin deep. Never mind that the Mahatmas loin cloth
showed us the skin and bones of satyagraha. For most women freedom from fear is
the meaning of azaadi because for them there is no freedom at midnight. Writers
and artists can watch the film Born Free but in case they think they are Azad
Panchi flying towards Azad Maidan, there is always the censor board.
When it comes to eating meat, many are advocating freedom from the flesh
but this is a blood and guts issue. On the 70th Independence day, many meaty
matters are on the national menu even though outsiders may look at the
ongoing food riots in India and ask whats the beef ?
Lets celebrate one of our last Independence Days before our
complete dependence on China, said one far-sighted American to
another. Many Indians of course would happily surrender their
independence to America. Not that we are not committed to the tiranga. But
these days some spirits may flag at the politics of jhanda by danda.
Of course in many other ways we have unlimited freedom. The freedom to
abuse was never more advanced than it is now. When it comes to independent
speech, we are often independent of thought. In India some are more free
than others. For Indias VVIPs Independence Days are always much more
independent than ours. Be it freedom from security checks at airports or
driving lal batti cars through one way lanes, they have the joys of azaadi.
At the ongoing Olympics officials and ministers are celebrating
Independence Day by travelling first class to Rio. Now only if our economy
class athletes had the same freedom, who knows we might just have won some
more medals. When it comes to the spirit of freedom, netas are singing apni
azaadi ko hum hargis mita sakte nahin.

* THE TIMES OF INDIA, NEW DELHI


MONDAY, AUGUST 15, 2016

The Do Something Nation

A thought for today

Fruits Of Freedom

OF IDEAS

Uday Deb

16

th

M K Gandhi

Beware Of Equality, It Is Against Freedom!


Talk: Osho

hose who canvass for freedom say


that a necessary part of freedom
is equality. But it is strange logic
that equality has to be established for
freedom to come, and that freedom has
to be sacrificed for the sake of equality.
The truth is, once freedom is lost, who
will restore it?
People forget that the person who
will make them all equal will himself
remain free and unequal; he will remain
outside of them all. He will have no
fetters on his feet and, he will have a gun
in his hand. Now you can well envision a
society where most people are in
shackles, and a handful are free and
powerful with all modern instruments
of suppression and oppression at their
disposal. What can you do in a situation
like this?
Marx said that in order to achieve
equality in society, first, suppress

political freedom, destroy individual


liberty and establish a dictatorship. And
he thought that after the achievement of
equality, freedom would be restored to the
people. But what we see is that as the
power of those who govern us grows, and
as the people, the ruled, are systematically suppressed and debilitated, the hope for freedom
becomes increasingly dim. Then
it is difficult even to raise the
question of freedom. Nobody
dares ask a question, speak his
thoughts, much less dissent and
rebel against the establishment.
In the name of equality,
and under cover of equality,
freedom could get destroyed;
then it will be nearly impossible
to win it back because those
who destroy freedom will see to it that
the chances of its being revived in the
future are also destroyed.
Secondly, while freedom is an

absolutely natural phenomenon, which


everyone must have as his right, equality
is not. Equality is neither natural nor
possible. All people cannot be equal
because they are basically unequal. But
everyone should be free to be what he is
and what he can be; to be himself. If
equality is forced on people
then their freedom is bound to
diminish and disappear.
Anything imposed with force
is synonymous with slavery.
Only free individuals make
a society, and where sovereignty
of the individual is denied,
society turns into a herd, a
mob. This is the difference
between society and crowd.
Society is another name
for the interrelationship of
individuals, a cooperative of
individuals but the individual has to
be there, he is the basic unit of society.
There cannot be a society inside a

the

speaking
tree

prison; a prison can only have a crowd,


a collection of faceless individuals.
Prisoners also relate with each other,
exchanging greetings and gifts among
themselves, but they are definitely not a
society. They have just been gathered
together and forced to live within the
four walls of a prison; it is not their
free choice.
Evil wants to destroy the individual,
seen as a thorn in its flesh. It wants the
crowd, the mass to live and grow. Good,
on the contrary, accepts the individual
and wants him to grow to his supreme
fulfillment and, at the same time, it
wants the crowd to disappear gradually
from the scene. Good stands for a society
of free individuals. Individuals will, of
course, have relationships, but then it
will be a society and not a herd, not a
crowd. Abridged from Krishna Smriti,
Osho Times International, Courtesy
Osho International Foundation,
www.osho.com