Sunday, July 11, 2010

If you can't beat them, join them?

The National Advisory Council of the Government of India has a galaxy of some of the most distinguished social activists, development experts, scientists and bureaucrats that it is possible to find. Aruna Roy and Harsh Mander are well known social and human rights activists, the former a Ramon Magsaysay award winner, Jean Dreze is a well known development economist and one of the early drafters of the NREGA scheme of the Government, apart from being the co-author with Amartya Sen of many books on developmental issues. Madhav Gadgil, Mirai Chatterjee, M. S. Swaminathan and others are equally distinguished in their own fields. The NAC is headed by Sonia Gandhi the UPA chairperson and therefore they may be said to have the ear of arguably the most powerful person in the Congress Party, and consequently the Government.

And yet...

Khap Panchayats and 'ordinary' middle class families in urban areas like Delhi bump off their sons and daughters (and sons-in-law and daughters-in-law) and all that a mealy mouthed Government can do is to set up another Group of Ministers. Unarmed stone throwing mobs (perhaps misguided, perhaps even led astray by separatist forces) are met with lethal force from poorly trained and perhaps trigger happy CRPF jawans instead of standard methods of non lethal crowd control. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act continues to prevail in J&K and the North East. The Government continues to dither about how to handle the Maoists in large parts of central India (where, in a classic reversal of roles, the same poorly trained CRPF force is regularly massacred by a determined and highly motivated adversary -- only in India).

Are we to conclude that the NAC is a purely decorative and toothless body that plays no role in actual Governance issues? In that case why do these people, most of whose commitment to their causes is not in doubt, continue to be in the Council? The Focus Areas that come under its purview strictly would exclude virtually all the above issues. Or does it take its role in the social security agenda so literally that no other issue in the social and political sphere matters to it? The fact that they presumably have Sonia Gandhi's ear should allow them to take a pre-eminent and activist role in the issues facing the Government today. And yet, they are visible audible mostly by their silence.

1 comment:

Anant said...


Re. And yet, they are visible mostly by their silence, perhaps what you want to say is visible->audible? Unless of course, you are using a mixed-metaphhor, which according to Wikipedia reads:

A mixed metaphor is one that leaps from one identification to a second identification inconsistent with the first.