The Hindustan Times
In an atmosphere of enveloping gloom it is difficult to speak of hope. President Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma managed to do this impossible job in his address to the nation on the eve of the country’s 46the Republic Day anniversary. First, he did not test the credulity of the nation by listing the achievements of “my government”. Having desisted form gratuitous back-patting, the President spoke of the four evils- communalism, casteism, corruption and criminalization – which “are interconnected and operating in tandem”. Discerning these evils to be “deep-seated and unyielding”, he declared that mobilization of the power of the people could expose and “stamp them out”. The message of hope is that the problems are neither endemic nor unsolvable. Only 50 per cent right. The problems are definitely solvable but they are also definitely endemic if not pandemic. There is more than a hint in the President’s address that it is futile to see the government and the administration as solvers of national problems. Thus, Dr. Sharma wants concerted steps to be initiated by “public spirited citizens, the Press (note: not the electronic media), the judiciary” along with “the executive authority” to bring about a positive change in the atmosphere.
Calling for a movement for a cleaner pubic life, the President emphasized the need for persons in prominent public offices setting examples of rectitude and of “high standard of personal conduct and accountability”. This means the public life today is as the backlanes of Delhi’s various colonies and persons in public offices have standards of rectitude expressible in depth rather than height. And yet the element of hope lies in the fact that a combination of public revulsion, individual perseverance and judicial activism has made it possible to bring the mightiest of the land under the microscope of public scrutiny and perhaps, into the clutches of law. One Mr. T.N, Seshan has shown to the country what the Election Commission can do to foil attempts of the criminal politician … to rig polls and capture booths. A stray Alphons of the establishment could take on the real estate mafia and demolish unauthorized structures in that vast real estate of unauthorized constructions called Delhi. Politicians now know that the illicit consensus (as one leading academic called it) of the powerful sections of society which has led to do much cirminalisation in society and polity cannot enjoy perennial immunity from either law or public retribution. Instead of seeing the post-hawala national scenario in gloomy terms, the nation could do well to look at the present as the starting point of a comprehensive operation for national cleansing.