Amidst the tales of corruption, of crony-ism, deals for favours – or favours for deals, most thinking Indian have probably given up getting angry; they are exasperated. But don’t give up hope. There is a way out of this mess.
But it is a road less taken – and it is very hard. It is not the activist road. It is not the “all politicians are crooks” road. Neither is it the romanticised, dramatic road of “Ekla Chalo Re!” (If anything “Ekla Chalo Re!” is probably the surest guarantee that nothing will change).
The way out is to prepare for the “Long War”.
As I wrote more than a year ago: “That is actually the hard way – much much harder than fasts. Much less glamorous than tearing and burning bills. And it will take much longer than a few months of protests…and no amount of burning paper is likely to get any of us closer to that”
To face up to India’s myriad challenges – and let us face it, corruption is just one part of it, we need a new set of people in the government – so that we don’t have to resort to burning bills and emotional blackmail. Unlike Arvind, Anna, IAC members and me, the men and women in Lok Sabha are there because someone voted for them.
To challenge them, we will need to take the fight to the electoral battleground. We will need to win the hearts and mind of the people – and their votes. This is much harder than playing up to the gallery (with solutions that appear like they may work but will pretty much be pointless) but it is perhaps the only way to bring about sustained change.”
And this way to bring about change must start with preparing the ground for such a battle. By making people aware about the problems, the issues, the flawed policies and the incapable, dishonest leadership that led us into this situation. This is not glamorous. And it takes time; a long time. Unfortunately there is no shortcut. Unless the ground is prepared, the seeds will not sprout. For the seeds of lasting change and fundamental political reform to sprout in India, we will need to till the soil.
This involves outreach – reaching out to the teeming millions – and effectively communicating to them the message of change. Explaining to them why they would be better off to vote for someone who does not promise a freebie. Explaining how can their lives change if the government steps from its over-arching role.
Such an outreach will not be easy. Communicating the ideas will be even more challenging. Which is why all this will take time.
And it will need people – not in hundreds but thousands. Thousands of tireless souls who are committed to this challenge – even if it takes a lifetime. These are the people we need if we wish for sustained and long term reform. This is what we need if we are to dream of uprooting the system.
The task is formidable. And it needs enormous patience and deep understanding of what is wrong with the current “system”. It also demands humility. Humility to be able to work with others; humility to grasp the magnitude of the challenge.
But merely talking about challenges and the “Long War” will not help. What will help is moving from talk to action. Taking the crucial first step that can set us on this journey. That first step has been taken – by individuals, groups, parties and organisations. It is time now for us to come together, work with each other and prepare for battle. If we don’t do that – or delay it any further, the challenge will only get bigger. That is for sure.
It will be a long haul. I don’t think there is any other way. But it can be done.
We can win. I am sure of that. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!
* With apologies to Arthur Koestler
Related Posts: Preparing for the Long War: Harsh Truths and Stark Realities and On Raju Narayan Swamy, Systemic Change and the Long War