As yoga guru Baba Ramdev starts indefinite fast against corruption…
Shekhar Gupta in The Indian Express:
Headline in IHT: Breathe in. Breathe out. Protest corruption.
On its second anniversary now, UPA 2 looks more irreparably damaged than Rajiv Gandhi’s government was in its third. In a most incredible and frightening first in India’s constitutional history, an elected government has been hijacked by intellectual charlatans, former babu busybodies, has-beens and wannabes, even some assorted nutcases and loonies. Its ministers issue a panicky, precedent-setting notification to placate a man in white and cede Parliament’s right to law-making in a surrender worse than the Treaty of Versailles. A month later the same ministers go crawling to the airport to prostrate themselves before a man in saffron, setting up directorates and committees to bring back the “four hundred lakh crore” of Indian black money from overseas. Just how ludicrous that figure is can be seen even by a class five child, once you remember that India’s current GDP is just Rs 59 lakh crore. But nobody is to question any of this. Or the fact that the same “wizard” in saffron promises that if his prescription is followed, all black money will return and the exchange rate will be fifty dollars to a rupee. That is, nearly a 2500 times increase. You can snigger, smirk, turn your face and laugh. But what is the point, because you ultimately surrender? Just as you had done when threatened by another maverick in white who believes drunks should be caned, and all voters are corrupt, and Narendra Modi personifies good governance. More:
Now, the Baba Ramdev Show
Manu Joseph in Open magazine:
Ramdev has strange views about the world around him. In a television interview with Prabhu Chawla he said that since there was so much corruption in the country it must, “ban Rs 50 and Rs 100 notes.” He said most Indians cannot afford to purchase anything that costs more than Rs 20 anyway. Then he looked at Prabhu Chawla and started singing, “Prabhuji have mercy on us, give us your love”, interrupting his song to indicate with a finger pointed to the ceiling that by ‘Prabhuji’ he was referring to god and not the interviewer. After ten Pakistani terrorists attacked Mumbai, Ramdev appeared on a channel and said, “They think we are vegetarians… But we should show them that we can hit back… In times like this do pranayam (and he shut his nose).”
That such a man now represents the anti-corruption movement is the worst thing that could happen to the movement and lays bare the fact that television revolutions that excite the politically impotent middleclass, which was what the Hazare farce was all about, are exaggerated momentary triumphs. The government may be scared of Ramdev and of what the media would do with his revolution, but the nervousness of elected leaders does not necessarily always mean a victory for the people. More:
Playing fast and loose
Pratap Bhanu Mehta in The Indian Express:
It is an unseemly sight. First, the government loses all moral authority by its complicity with corruption. The political class abdicates its role. Civil society steps in to fill the vacuum. Hunger strikes begin. And the government of an aspiring superpower, instead of behaving like a government, succumbs to blackmail after blackmail. There is something medieval about the image. The “Baba” arrives. Practically all of government that matters shows up in attendance. God forbid if the Baba curses them. You have to sympathise with these artful ministers. They are valiantly trying to make up for the fact that the Queen Mother, her Dewan and the little Prince run away from the most ordinary governance that matters. They have outsourced all leadership and thinking. A few ministers are left to pick up the pieces.
Then there is the gloss on this bizarre spectacle. First, abdicate. Then, cravenly submit. Then call it responsiveness. Such corruption of language signals a deeper corruption. A responsive government is one that in its routine functioning discharges its responsibilities: enforces the rule of law, dispenses justice, provides good management of the economy and so forth. Submitting to every whim of self-appointed civil society advocates is not responsiveness. A responsive government would govern, not sleepwalk to airports. More: