By Ananya S Guha
The Central Government has taken up the helicopters deal with the British Prime Minister. Although the Company involved is an Anglo Italian one I fail to understand this action which is anomalous.
It was the Italian government which detected this scam, the main accused are from Italy, but why has our Government decided to take up the matter with the British Head of State? This is strange, and what point are we trying to prove?
The Italian government has mentioned Indians in the deal, but instead of negotiating and parleying with the Italian government we seem to be saying, we will only talk to the big `bosses`. It is not only equivalence that we are trying to show, but the message is: We will talk to no one less than you. When Italy is rocked by the scandal involving India, we are shamelessly by passing them and in fact the method is elusive and evasive. It is also as if we are trying to put the ball in the court of the UK which is involved not directly, but only vicariously.
As expected the British Prime Minister has given a polite and non commital reply. What else can be expected of him? Instead of forthrightly asking the Italian government for further details we seem to side track the issue and bring unwarranted complications into the matter. I think that not only is this not done, but is patently unfair and even unethical.
Added to this is an almost puissant attitude by our government that we are totally in the dark about this nefarious deal, worth thousands of crores! Come on, we all know that these helicopters were paraded brazenly on Republic day with much fanfare and grandeur. Who are we kidding?
And, then suddenly the matter is diverted to the British government and that too on its Prime Minister`s courtesy visit to the country. Do we want to be a small brother of the Big Brother? What point are trying to establish?
It is obvious that the deal was done with the knowledge of the government, and now we seem to be mercy pleading, as if telling the British Head of State that no we are blissfully unaware of such impropriety, please look into the matter. In other words please bail us out. What an opprobrious thing to do!
In the meantime shame and scandal has rocked Italy. But we, without batting our eyelids are sitting pretty, and circumnavigating the entire scandalous issue.
I think our democratic ideals have crashed rock bottom.
Who are we trying to fool?
There is no dearth of news in our country, and that too for the wrong reasons! Now we have the spectacular one of a Minister of one of the North Eastern states caught napping with Rs 1 crore and some ammunition to boot it. And that happened in another country, Nepal to be precise. The Minister had the grace to resign. Perhaps if this was in any other state, this may not have happened.
What the Minister was doing with the guns is the moot question. And of course the money! But one crore pales into insignificance when we have a few thousand crore deal for helicopters. One crore is peanuts.
This happened just on the eve of the state assembly elections, but what was and is befuddling is that why it happened in Kathmandu. So no election connection, only flatulence of money? What bothers mostly are the presence of guns.
No wonder then that the Church in Nagaland is vocally asking for a free and fair elections, and also exhorting everyone to vote judiciously. The Church is propagating anti corruption, and to vote for people with and for a conscience, not venality and money power. This is influencing especially the youth, and the church is playing a pivotal role here. It is pleading for the right to vote and asking for more than a semblance of sanity while exercising the right to franchise. This may not evoke wonders immediately, but it surely is a step in the right direction, and I think that the church in Nagaland irrespective of denominations is taking a gutsy and moral stand. This is so because politics needs to be inculcated with ethics, something which Gandhi represented.
It also shows that our body politic has reached a nadir. Money, money and money are the passwords in politics and elections. This is excoriatingly true. Like the church in Nagaland social bodies in other parts of the country can take a cue. The people of this picturesque state are yearning for peace, the peace which has been elusive, even after fifteen or sixteen years of `cease fire`, and for more than four decades.
This initiative of the church should be highlighted as a peace initiative and an effort, a serious one to rub politics of its tainted and dirty smudges. If similar collective action is taken at all levels in the country then there may be results, results that are salutary. But this has to be a conscious effort – a silent revolution. It is only through the collective consciousness of the people at community levels and through the intervention of organizations which are apolitical can a semblance of sanity be restored to the ubiquitous venality and nepotism which has plunged the country into thralldom.
(The views expressed in this article are personal)