Sunday, 14 August 2011

Mr "Prime Minister": you are a disgrace

Dear Mr “Prime Minister”

In a few hours from now, early tomorrow morning, you will stand on the ramparts of the Red Fort in Delhi and speak to the nation, telling us all about our independence and the problems your government intends to solve until you come up to the same spot again next year (if you still occupy the post then), and tell us again how your government is going to solve the same problems – just as you did last year, and the year before that, and the year before.

Well, Mr “Prime Minister”, I’d like to say a few words to you.

Who am I? Nobody special. Nobody famous. I’m just one of the faceless millions. One of those who need to exist just so the rich and famous and influential can revel in how rich and famous and influential they are. After all, how will the Great Chiefs know that they are Great Chiefs, unless they can look down and see all the ordinary Native Americans?

From my position at the bottom of the same totem pole of which you inhabit a place close to the top, Mr “Prime Minister”, my voice will not reach you. Therefore, please feel free to ignore me – but I will have my say anyway. On this day of all days, the eve of the anniversary of our so-called independence, I will have my say.

So, before I go any further, Mr “Prime Minister”, let me tell you right out – you are a disgrace.

You are a disgrace, first, because you hold a position to which you were never elected. You are as aware as I am that you are not an elected leader – that you have never won even a municipal level election, and that you violated the law when you first were “selected” to the Upper House seat you now occupy.

You are a disgrace, as well, because you do not exert authority over the ministers among whom you are allegedly the “prime”. You are aware – who in this nation is not aware? – that you lead the worst, most corrupt government we have ever known, a government which is so awful that it makes the previous Hindunazi government look good, a government so awful that even the long-suffering people of India have had enough. You are as well aware as I am that it’s only by police raids, slander, petty harassment, legal sleight-of-hand, and reneging on promises that you have so far stopped the situation from blowing up in your face.

You are a disgrace, thirdly, because you don’t take responsibility for the actions of your colleagues. So far, you have moved against the corrupt only with extreme reluctance, when you have had no other option, and you have done as little as possible while only stating that you are tied by the “compulsions of coalition politics”. While I am not one of the people who voted for your party (not for you – nobody voted for you, because you do not dare stand for election, of course) I do know that those who did vote for it don’t think this is a reasonable excuse. Being the prime minister (or, in your case, the “prime minister”) means that you are supposed to take responsibility for the actions of all – that means all – your colleagues. It’s not good enough to say you didn’t know or that your hands are tied by political factors. If you can’t fill the role, stand down.

Which brings me to the next reason you are a disgrace. As we all know, you are not your own man. You were put in your position as a chair warmer, until the Heir Apparent of the political dynasty which treats your party as its personal property was ready to take over. You’ve said as much on more than one occasion. It’s looking unlikely that the Heir Apparent will ever formally take over your position, though – he, and his family, would rather rule through you and let you take the flak while they (or, more specifically, he) take the credit. I am as aware as you that on more than one occasion you’ve announced a policy only to have it overturned by pronouncements from the dynasty. If you had any integrity, you would have resigned rather than be vetoed by someone who has no constitutional role in the government. But I’m pretty certain that you don’t have the authority to make your own decisions about quitting. You’ll go when you are permitted to – not before.

You are, Mr “Prime Minister”, as we’ve been told ad nauseam, a “great economist”. I don’t, as I freely admit, know much about economics. But I assume even an average economist will know that endlessly repeating a mantra about “growth” wears thin after a while when prices zoom skywards, year after year after year, and your government – which is primarily responsible for the policies that cause those prices to rise – claims that it does not know why it is happening, and has nothing to say except “assurances” that those prices will come down eventually. Nor are the people impressed by your claim that you aren’t taking steps against corruption because you don’t want to impose the costs of another election on the nation – even a non-economist can do the arithmetic and inform you that the costs of another election are infinitesimal compared to the loot your government is perpetrating on the nation every day it clings to power. Forgive me if I do not understand how any economist ignores these factors.

Again, I’m as well aware as anyone else of your reputation for personal honesty. I won’t impugn it because I can’t prove that you have ever taken a bribe yourself, and I don’t wish to indulge in libel. While I’d like to point out that you would be extraordinarily stupid to take bribes personally rather than have a bagman from your party collect them for you, let me assume that you’re clean as far as illegal gratuities are concerned. But while remaining personally clean, Mr “Prime Minister”, you preside over a government which has systematically sabotaged probes against the corrupt and which is rotten with corruption all the way down to the basement. If I might offer an analogy, Mr “Prime Minister”, would you absolve a security guard at a warehouse who watched silently while the said warehouse was robbed bare, even if he didn’t personally benefit by a penny from it? No? Then how do you absolve yourself?

Then, lest I forget, Mr “Prime Minister”, may I remind you of your government’s extreme affinity for Big Business? Isn’t it true that you have systematically removed people who are not business oriented – people who actually still maintain shreds of loyalty to your party’s socialistic past – from positions of power, and replaced them with nonentities and corporate rubber stamps? Have you not very recently replaced the only effective environment minister in a long time, someone who had taken a few steps against the corporate loot of national resources, against the destruction of what remains of the environment, with a nonentity who can be relied on to do precisely as she is told? Am I out of line if I wonder how many millions in funding will flow into your party’s war chest from grateful industrialists and mining concerns in the next two years, as you prepare to face the next election?

And, yes, Mr “Prime Minister”, how can I forget that you have abandoned all pretence of a foreign policy in exchange for an American policy? How can I forget that you are the person who hugged the egregious war criminal George W Bush and assured him that the people of India (whom you do not dare face in an election) “love” him? Do you want me to ignore the fact that you have gone out of your way to ruin our relations with our old friend, Iran, and sabotaged the pipeline that would have supplied us with natural gas and reduced our energy bills, entirely on the US’ orders? Should I forget that your government has sucked up to the Americans for all it’s worth in order to be granted a nuclear supplies waiver – while the rest of the world is stepping back from nuclear energy, and Fukushima has demonstrated just how dangerous meltdowns can be? I’m sorry, but I cannot, and will not, ignore any of that.

Lastly, and most unforgivably, Mr “Prime Minister”, this is why you are a disgrace: you have presented us with a situation where the only alternative to your ultra-corrupt kleptocracy government are the Hindunazis, who are even more viciously right-wing, Islamophobic, and intolerant; whom the people of India rejected in 2004 and again in 2009, but whom they will vote back next time round because they have no other choice. And now that you have blazed a trail, will the Hindunazis – no slouch in the corruption game, themselves – not take the opportunity to match your government bribe for bribe? Just how much long-term damage have you done to the nation, Mr “Prime Minister”?

As I said, you are free to ignore me, Mr “Prime Minister”, because I am far too low on the totem pole for you to bother. And ignore me you undoubtedly will, because I am under your radar, and will remain under your radar.

However, you, Mr “Prime Minister”, will remain a disgrace.

(Un)happy Dependence Day.

                                                                                  Yours uncordially
                                                                                    Bill the Butcher

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