A primer on how Indians get fooled every time
India, take a bow. The mid-term results are being hailed as a fresh voice of the common man. They’re being talked about as the voice of dissent calling out against a tyrannical rule of oppression. We never learn. We just never learn.
It is exasperating to see the gimmicks that Congress creates each and every time there is an election in the offing. And it is even more exasperating to watch us fall prey to the nonsense. Each and every time. They say common sense is not so common. And Indian democracy is the best example of that statement. Take the Rafale deal as just the tip of the iceberg. The game was simple. Create a distortion that equals Bofors. Where Bofors was a real scam, Rafale was nothing but a bag of hot air blown around by the Congress. And we fell prey to it. Like a ton of bricks.
The Supreme court gave a clean chit to the government on three aspects of the Rafale deal – the decision to purchase only 36 jets instead of the original UPA order of 126, the pricing and the selection of offset partners. That’s as categorical as can be. Or take the CBI vs CBI “tamasha”. The SC dismissed a petition challenging Asthana’s appointment as Special Director. The court even dismissed a plea seeking a review of this verdict. Now that the election is over, Rafale is no longer needed . . for the time being. The CBI brouhaha has also died down. It served its cause. To obfuscate the real issues and to confuse the gullible public. Us. And boy did it succeed. India, take a bow.
Today it is Rafale and CBI. Yesterday was the brouhaha around petrol prices. It served the Congress to create a hue and cry about it. Nobody went into the issue to understand that the government had nothing to do with fuel prices. But the harm was done. Before the petrol prices were the noise around Vijay Mallya and how the Modi government helped him escape. Now that he is being brought back to justice, nobody is mentioning it in public discourse. But back then, nobody lost a chance to make fun of how the government allowed NPAs to build up and allowed crooks to escape with bad loans. Nobody tried to understand that the government was actually trying to fix a broken system. Nobody bothered to understand how the IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code) worked and how this single piece of legislative reform helped bring so many defaulters to book.
Before the Mallya fiasco was the Maratha agitation. What a bunch of malarkey! Nobody lost the chance to cry hoarse about how Marathas should be given reservation. “Ek Maratha, lakh Maratha” chants of unity were shouted across streets and in massive rallies. Nobody bothered to ask the simple question of why this community did not create pandemonium when there was a Maratha chief minister in the office? Why did Marathas need to call themselves socially and economically backward when 11 out of 18 past CMs have been from the Maratha community? Nobody bothered to look at the politics behind the agitation. The list is endless. Starting with award-wapsi to Rafale, the Congress and their ilk have NEVER lost an opportunity to create a smoke-screen of lies and chaos to divert attention from holistic action being taken by the government in all spheres of governance. And we fell for it. Each and every time. India, take a bow.
Even more exasperating than the “manufactured” dissent is the public’s naivety in lapping all this nonsense up. We’re all to blame. The common man on the street is not only lazy enough to not think about an issue but also dumb enough to create a hue and cry about it without understanding the said issue. It is very easy to criticize without understanding. It takes time to comprehend an issue and form an opinion. Nobody wants to do that.
Truth be told, therein lies the problem. A recent tweet by Anand Mahindra spoke about how enhanced communication technologies have allowed us to get bad news instantly and we believe the world is getting more dangerous and fragile. However, the truth of the matter is that generally speaking, the world is a better place. More people are being fed, more people have access to vaccinations, more countries have embraced democracy and overall child mortality has gone down in the past 200 years. Simply put, bad news spreads faster than good news. It’s easier. This simple fact coupled with the ennui on the part of the general population to comprehend any social issue with any level of critical thinking makes for a potent and fatal combination.
The challenge before the government is not governance. That is being done well. Reform is in good hands, policy-making is holistic and long-term in nature, vital statistics are healthy and the government is on the right track. That is a plain fact. The challenge is to overcome these twin hurdles created by “enhanced communication technologies” and people’s unwillingness to think. How to spread good news faster than “pseudo-bad” news and how to encourage the citizens to think critically and analyse an issue before forming an opinion. Till these challenges are tackled, Indians will continue to be misled by the Congress and their ilk into a quagmire of their own naivety and the nation will continue to suffer.
Virag Padalkar is a project management consultant by profession. He spends his spare time trekking in the Sahyadri mountains.