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1 out of 150: AR's Reply

Postings not related to the writing of the Manifesto or policy chapters
are likely to be summarily rejected. Thanks for your understanding. IPI
Hello Umesh,

I agree with you. Many a times, people up there, on the pedestal are more
ordinary (or silly) than the most ordinary amongst us. We journalists see it
happen almost everyday. This is as far as your experience with Seshan is

Yes, though we broadly agree on various issues, our individual perceptions
and sensibilities differ. Just as Sanjeev has suggested a para titled,
'Citizen Bureaucrats wanted' for inclusion, a similar para may be suggested
for the politicians, basis your point. Their freedom of expression (thought
& speech) may be independent of the party line.

My other journalist friends would agree with me that a similar insecurity,
fear and frustration lurk in the minds of these politicians. How many times
such people air their honest inner feelings in private! They too should be
free to uphold their honest views thru the media, if the party bosses ignore
personal political aspirations, in the garb of partyline, party whip, etc.
After all, they should be allowed to feel that they are responsible to the
electorate first, the people who voted them to the Assembly or Parliament.
Their accountability should be  obligatory, statutory and mandatory.  And
the party should not interfere with this fundamental political freedom of

Do you agree with me? This is for your kind approval.

Arindam Roy

>I think there is widespread agreement about the deteriorating state of
>our social, moral , and ethical values, and most of what you said is not
>in dispute. Each one of us can associate ourselves with this grim
>reality if we happen to know anything about present day India. When you
>say the following :
>"How can I sing a happy song when there are tears all around me ?"
>I think I can relate to it. This sad reality is just the sad reality of
>our own society, debates cannot justify facts otherwise.
>All of us feel bad about it. But some of us must overcome the pain and
>look for reasons to keep hope alive.
>Just as we are less then perfect in reporting about facts in news media
>these days, we have been equally irresponsible about recording our own
>recent history which would show clearly that until even this 20th
>century, killings and murders on the basis of caste and religions were
>not just some academic statistics, but there were real faces of people
>who could not live their lives because others thought they didn't
>deserve to live. We only remember the generalized sweeping reforms such
>as Gandhian revolution that marked the beginning of the end of
>untouchability, but thousands, or perhaps millions of those who suffered
>while the practice was prevalent, largely got ignored by historians or
>became parts of some generalized statistics. If we care to recall the
>past with our own life experiences, I think we are getting better, even
>though some things might at the same time, be getting out of control
>unless checked soon enough.
>On your example of the plight of the civil servants. What you said is
>generally true, except for the fact that, there is,though very
>insignificant, nonetheless, other side of the coin. Politicians are
>generally considered corrupt, and Civil servants, the bureaucrats are
>generally considered more educated, morally and ethically better, and
>still, most of the times, frustrated because of not being able to do
>what they consider to be the best thing for the country. Facts generally
>support this assumption, and therefore, there is nothing wrong with
>being compassionate about this issue.
>However, there is another part, which could be termed as a sort of
>"superiority complex" that many of our bureaucrats go through believing
>they deserve more respect and power then the "Doti clad", less educated,
>and often not that sophisticated politicians. If I may guess, there is
>perhaps some passed on legacy of british colonialism in it.
>Anyway, rather then generalizing on issues, and believing on someone's
>opinions, no matter whether the individual is a Civil servant or a
>political activist, I prefer getting closer to individual facts and
>forming opinions purely on the basis of facts rather then where it came
>I have a very good example of a famous bureaucrat, who has done wonders
>for India. I think you know the name of Mr. T.N. Seshan, the firebrand
>former Chief Election Commissioner of India, who is rightly recognized
>for overhauling the election commission and with his firm,though
>somewhat high-handed approach, he managed to return people's faith in
>one of the basic foundations of our democracy. He was awarded the famous
>Megaseysey award.
>This famous Mr. Seshan came to the United States couple of years ago.
>Before that, there were rumors about him running for the Presidential
>elections, and Bal Thakre of Shiv Sena had already offered his support
>etc. Just like millions of Indians who followed his tenure as CEC, I too
>was sort of a fan of Mr. Seshan until I got a chance to see him speak
>his mind.
>I had known all along that though the integrity of this gentleman could
>not be questioned, but he seldom believed in other people's ability to
>do the right things. In his club, he is a dictator, and only he is right
>all the time. Knowing that I took interest in matters related to India,
>I was summoned to participate in this get together where Mr. Seshan was
>to speak.
>We, as a community, being so hungry of Charismatic leaders in our
>society after the demise of the Nehru Dynasty, the hosts left no stone
>unturned in trying to praise Mr. Seshan. There was even explicit demand
>stated by every speaker who spoke before and after him, about conferring
>"Bharat Ratna" to him.
>Mr. Seshan starts to speak, and he clarifies that he hates
>environmentalists like Medha Patkar etc. who are creating troubles in
>implementation of Narmada Projects etc. Till that point it was all
>right, then Mr. Seshan goes on to the extent of not recognizing the
>territorial sovereignty of Pakistan while trying to suggest that there
>is land on that part of the world that belongs to India (not talking
>about Kashmir here). Finally comes the point of question answer
>sessions, after he himself had clearly stated in his speech, rather
>arrogantly that every politician of our land is corrupt, and he hated
>every political party as well as politician, and that he deserved to be
>either the President or the Prime Minister of India (by this time I was
>thoroughly puzzled and started wondering whether Mr. Seshan believed in
>our democratic system or not!)
>Anyway, I submit my question to him, which was skipped by the moderator
>in an effort to filter out difficult questions. Then I got a chance to
>confront him and directly ask. Since he himself expressed his desire to
>be either the Prime Minister or the President of India, and despite such
>vast pool of talent in India, which is famous for its achievements in
>the fields of Information Technology, Science, Engineering etc. around
>the globe, and not much of that talents goes towards the profession of
>politics, why doesn't he, him being the rare personality who has done so
>much for India, take on the task of encouraging new generation to join
>politics and clean up our democracy?
>His simple answer was, "For that to happen, I am going to have to join
>His one line remark had told me a lot, lot about his personal beliefs,
>his lack of respect for the democratic institutions. It was almost
>frightening to see such a popular national figure, a darling of
>millions, make generalized statements about politics and politicians,
>had such unsophisticated opinions about neighboring countries, and yet
>he almost demanded that he deserved to be the Prime Minister or the
>President of India.
>Our system is bad enough, we don't need to form sweeping opinions as to
>whether Civil Servants are morally better then the politicians or the
>politicians are generally corrupt. Every time such a generalization is
>made, my heart goes to the politicians I personally have been following
>for years, and who are sort of my heroes, who go on doing their duty,
>for they believe in our system of democracy and care enough about the
>poor and ignored.
>Thank You.
>This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
>Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/

This is the National Debate on System Reform.       debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/