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Business News/ Opinion / The warts in our democracy
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The warts in our democracy

The government can monitor everything in digital India, but if you have nothing to hide, why not disclose?

We will become the next superpower. If not in five years, then in 25 years. After all, you gave 60 years to those guys. It is our turn now. Photo: HT Premium
We will become the next superpower. If not in five years, then in 25 years. After all, you gave 60 years to those guys. It is our turn now. Photo: HT

First they went after police officers and bureaucrats who were saying things that didn’t match with the official version of the story, and none of us said anything, because government officials, after all, must follow service rules and not speak to the media. If they speak out of turn, of course the law must take its own course.

Then witnesses in the Asaram case started dying, but surely it was all a coincidence; India is after all a large country, and deaths happen.

Then witnesses and others involved with the Vyapam case started dying—one drowned, the mouth of one started foaming and he collapsed—but there was not much to be said because, you know, I didn’t live in Madhya Pradesh, so how was I to know what was really going on?

Then they released Maya Kodnani on bail, but you know, that’s understandable; she has health issues, and one should have compassion, and in any case that woman did no harm to me.

Then a prosecutor said she was told to go slow on cases against some Hindus who were accused of exploding bombs, and we shrugged it off because the prosecutor must have acted suspiciously—there must be something dark in the lentil (daal mein kuchh kala hai) because she must have been denied a promotion; and in any case Hindus are non-violent, so why should they be persecuted?

Then they banned beef in the state, and there was not much to be said, because, you know, red meat is bad for health in any case. You know, cholesterol.

Then they shouted ghar wapsi and we thought that’s how they described the Prime Minister returning from one of his trips overseas.

Then they stopped Priya Pillai from boarding a flight to London, but then what else was the government to do, come on, why did she have to go to a British parliamentary meeting to speak against India? How unpatriotic is that?

Then they froze the accounts of Greenpeace, but what was weird about that? Of course they should; after all, India has to develop, no? And doesn’t Greenpeace stop all development everywhere? Who funds them anyway?

Then they got Gajendra Chauhan, Mahabharata’s Yudhishthira, to run the Film and Television Institute of India, and the students protested; but that’s ridiculous, why should the government run subsidised schools for students to learn how to make films? And shouldn’t students spend time learning, rather than picketing and protesting?

Then they removed Amartya Sen from running a university, but of course that was the correct thing to do; after all, Sen was spending all his time at Harvard or Cambridge or wherever, and telling everyone he was against the prime minister. I mean, how could you be the chancellor of a top university and disrespect the prime minister? And why should people who lived abroad most of the time run India’s premier universities? What did Sen know about universities in India, anyway? Harvard? Where is its academic freedom? They stopped Subramaniam Swamy from teaching—you call that academic freedom, huh?

Then they tried to arrest Teesta Setalvad, but wasn’t that the right thing to do? Why was she persisting with filing cases in courts even after the Supreme Court had given a clean chit? Who was paying her bills, anyway? And look, India is a democracy; the Supreme Court said she was not to be arrested, and she wasn’t, so what was the problem?

Then they raided Setalvad’s home, spending more than a dozen hours there, and some say they even went through her children’s room, but you know, you can’t take chances these days; how was anyone to know what she may have hidden and where? The Central Bureau of Investigation had a job to do, of collecting documents and information she had already offered to provide, so what was wrong if they came to collect it, and saved her postage money? Why is she complaining? She must have something to hide, for otherwise she would have disclosed everything, no?

Now isn’t that plain and simple paranoia? Such things happen in China and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, not in India, and excuse me, look, India is the world’s largest democracy. This is not some banana republic, you know?

We will become the next superpower. OK, if not the next, then next-to-next. If not in five years, then in 25 years. After all, you gave 60 years to those guys. It is our turn now.

We are good, law-abiding citizens. We pay our taxes. We have even taken selfies with our daughters. And we do yoga. Now have digital India. We have signed up for Aadhaar and memorised our number. Yes, yes, the government can monitor everything in digital India, but if you have nothing to hide, why not disclose?

Some day, these people in the media say, they will come for you and me.

If someone does come for me, you will speak up for me, no?

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Published: 15 Jul 2015, 09:48 AM IST
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