Home Feature Beware the 2.5 Whammies!

Beware the 2.5 Whammies!

649
0
SHARE

By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer

A whammy is a devastating blow. We see such a whammy building up on the horizon and it may hit us unless we take steps to avoid it.

The first sign is the renewed farmers’ agitation.  France was a despotic kingdom ruled by a king and an imperial court completely out of touch of the misery of their subjects. In 1789 the unhappy farmers of France, and its other miserable citizens rose up in revolt. Sadly, the rulers of Russia learnt nothing from this. They disregarded the wretched lives of their citizens and indulged themselves in their own fantasy.  The common people of Russia lead by their peasants revolted and put an end to their despotic rulers from 1905 to 1917. In spite of these two revolutions the Chinese Emperor continued to believe in the immortality of his family and their government. They surrounded themselves with high walls of security while enslaving their own people. In 1949 the peasants and other common people of China rose up in revolt.

Because of these three revolutions we are very worried when we see our farmers being treated as if they were an enemy army by the government of Haryana.  That is the first worry.  The second whammy came when the Supreme Court of India pointed out the illegality of the Electoral Bonds Scheme. The highest judicial body in the land called the scheme opaque.  Most disturbingly, it became clear that this scheme was not a one-off project. Its introduction had been carefully planned and amendments had been made to all the other laws that could have impeded its introduction.  Most importantly the organization that supported the ground-breaking Right to Information had been carefully and systematically weakened. When all this was read in conjunction with the exclusion of large numbers of Members of Parliament during the passage of important new laws the clouds on the horizon darkened.

Democracy is based on the twin pillars of Transparency and Accountability. As citizens of India we have the right to demand that our Central and State Governments show us how they intend to spend our money and when they have spent it, how exactly it has been used.  They do not have the right to spend it on their own whims and fancies as the Monarchs of France, Russia and China did. Our beautiful little State knows that the Himalayas are fragile, growing mountains subject to earthquakes. They are aware that every major project needs to have an Environmental Impact Assessment.  And yet the very people who should be responsible for protecting their voters from earthquakes, forest fires, flash floods and tunnel collapses seem to be the ones who invite these disasters. Why do they do this? The answer to that question has never been given so it remains an open festering wound.

SO WHERE IS THE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY?

Transparency and accountability were guaranteed by The Right To Information Act.  News reports have disturbed us by the repeated claims that the carefully constructed RTI organization has been allowed to decay until it is virtually non-existent.  Why?

The Imperial Governments of France, Russia and China had no right to Information Act. The Imperial Government of India had no Right to Information Act. Imperial

Governments do not welcome probes into how or why they spend taxpayers” money the way they do. But we are a democracy. We are not a country ruled by an imperial government.  Having made that statement a disturbing thought occurred to us. A few days ago when we were enthralled watching a TV programme on that magnificent Temple in the desert sands of an Islamic kingdom, the Presenter made a curious statement. Remarking on the great achievement of erecting a Hindu Temple on the sands of Arabia, the presenter said that our Prime Minister should be called The Emperor of Hindus. Really!?  So, must the Bons, Buddhist, Christians, Jains, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and the whole range of forest dwellers not covered by our Uniform Civil Code find their own Emperors? TV presenters often tend to express their own feelings in the most exaggerated terms. So was this a TV gaffe? Or was it a clever attempt to test the waters before officially projecting a new image?

(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.) (The opinions and thoughts expressed here reflect only the authors’ views!).