Maybe the next time you take a phone call, you should say sorry instead of hello.
It’s not as weird as it sounds. Let me explain.
As expected, most of the media coverage of Sunday’s cabinet reshuffle has concentrated on whether this is the charge of the youth brigade or not, and what are the political messages being sent out by choosing x number of people from this state and y number of people from another, and so on.
But the bigger and more important message coming from the reshuffle is that our two national parties seem to have agreed on how to deal with corruption charges. Which is, just cock a snook at them. We now have an external affairs minister, who will be trotting the globe meeting leaders who will know that till recently he had been nothing less than a law minister who had been charged with cheating the physically disabled and had issued a death threat to the people who brought the charges. The main opposition party is headed by a social entrepreneur, who has created a network of holding companies with opaque sources of funding that would have made the most regressive Indian business families proud. Salman Khurshid has been elevated, and Nitin Gadkari clearly isn’t about to give up his post. Both parties have made it clear that they are solidly backing these two men. And no politician seems interested anymore in Robert Vadra.
So the state of affairs is as follows. Both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have a loaded gun at each other’s head. While the Congress, being in power, can hold the threat of a Central Bureau of India investigation over the BJP’s head, the BJP can rake up enough muck on Vadra and go to town with it. So both parties have agreed to make corruption a non-issue, in fact, do so boldly and publicly, at least at a national level. At the state level, of course, it will be tom-tommed, as we are seeing in Himachal Pradesh. But as far as the big guns are concerned, they will be protected, and that code of silence, exposed by that interloper Arvind Kejriwal, kicks back again. Everything is business as usual. At least that’s what the Congress and the BJP are hoping.
This proves beyond doubt—if any proof was at all needed—what India Against Corruption group has been saying. That, when it comes to corruption, everyone is in it together. It is simply too deep-rooted in our present political system for anyone in the establishment to want to rock the boat. You tug at any thread, and balls of wool of all colours start unravelling. The only possible response by politicians then is shamelessness, posing as imperious holier-than-thou attitude (the Gandhi family), shamelessness as enraged victimhood (the BJP), shamelessness as a taxidermist’s delight (our Prime Minister).
Yes, this is what defines Indian politics today: brazen shamelessness.
And when the entire political class transcends shame, I think it’s time for the citizens of India to feel deeply, terribly ashamed. Ashamed of the people we are supposed to have chosen to run our country for us, and ashamed of India circa 2012. That’s why, maybe, every time we take a phone call, we should say sorry instead of hello.