15 Fissures in the Indian Fabric - Fr Joshan Rodrigues

posted Jan 22, 2019, 1:56 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 22, 2019, 1:57 AM ]
India goes to the polls this year to elect its Lok Sabha representatives. This makes the celebration of Republic Day even more significant. The solemn respect that is extended to the Indian Flag and other national symbols on this day is not just meant to be a superficial exhibition of our patriotic fervour, or to remind ourselves of our 'Indian-ness', but rather, it must be a moment of critical appraisal to review the fissures that have opened up in the fabric of our Republic. The Founding Fathers had a strong faith in the people of this country, and they were certain that with the inherent talents and resources present in the people of this great nation, we would soon realise the potential and dreams with which India was born as it gained independence.

The onus of realising the Indian dream is, however, not just the responsibility of the three branches of government, but is incumbent on every Indian citizen. Each of us, to the extent of our strengths and capacities, is duty-bound to augment the country's progress, uphold its honour and persuasively and consistently carry India's silent fortitude and human ideals to a world that is often steeped in nationalistic agendas and ego battles. A democratic Republic, one which our Constitution aims to build, cannot be realised, if its citizens reject the business of political discourse and civic duty. Public business must be the citizen's business. It is therefore each one's responsibility to familiarise himself with the workings of the machinery of Government, so that he can immerse himself actively and knowledgably in public discourse.

As we look to the state of the nation today, a number of concerns emerge. Political discourse and debate is at an all-time low. Name-calling and personal insults have become the order of the day. The Treasury and Opposition benches have become skilled in presenting facts from their own perspective and to their own advantage, and the general public seems incapable of discerning the truth from the barrage of 'facts' and 'alternative facts' thrown at it. Legislatures have forgotten the art of high debate – house suspensions and walkouts have become the norm. Poaching of MPs and MLAs from rival parties has made a mockery of the very reason why elections are held. The sanctity of a citizen's vote is trampled upon, if his/her elected representative betrays the promises, party and platform on which he stood for election. As national and regional parties head towards Battle 2019, the only narrative seems to be to keep the other out of power. So far, no party has presented a concrete vision or manifesto to outline how they plan on addressing the ills burdening our nation.