The breached moat sig­nals that some­thing is shift­ing in In­dian democ­racy

The pre­vail­ing anti-cor­rup­tion wind has achieved a lot, but is the mood only carnival-deep?

Tehelka - - 20 - BY SHOMA CHAUD­HURY

AT FIRST glance, it would ap­pear a cru­cial si­lence has been bro­ken. In­dian me­dia and politi­cians have al­ways had some in­ex­pli­ca­ble no-go ar­eas, is­lands of im­mu­nity no one ques­tioned out of a strange mix of tribal pro­pri­ety, vested in­ter­ests and fear. Of course, there have been many sig­nif­i­cant blows ear­lier by the CAG, civil rights ac­tivists, and some me­dia houses, in­clud­ing TE­HELKA it­self. But last week, with Arvind Ke­jri­wal’s high-vis­i­bil­ity fusil­lade against So­nia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, that moat was de­ci­sively breached. Since then, rolling one upon the other, sev­eral other politi­cians have come un­der fire, most spec­tac­u­larly Sharad Pawar — the po­lit­i­cal leader ev­ery­one knows some­thing about but no one will speak of. On 18 Oc­to­ber, at a crowded press con­fer­ence, for­mer cop YP Singh en­sured men like Pawar would never again ben­e­fit from na­tional omer­tas.

In ev­ery way, this breached moat can only be a good thing. It sig­nals that some­thing is shift­ing in In­dian democ­racy. It will em­bolden oth­ers to speak up. The scru­tiny will deepen. The old ways can no longer hold good. The rot in In­dia’s sys­tems has be­come so gar­gan­tuan, it has to re­build or it will im­plode.

With each ex­posé — dif­fer­ing as they may be in scale, ve­he­mence and dili­gence — cru­cial con­cepts that had all but dis­ap­peared from In­dia’s pub­lic lex­i­con are be­ing forced back on the ta­ble; not just rank cor­rup­tion, but ideas of con­flict of in­ter­est; mis­use of of­fice; the po­lit­i­cal-cor­po­rate nexus; cross-party col­lu­sion; and the sim­ple idea that those who wield great power must also live by the rules.

Clearly, the power elite in In­dia don’t un­der­stand this shift in mood yet. Ev­ery ex­posé over the past few days has been met by the same set of brazen, un­think­ing war moves: si­lence, de­nial, dis­missal or dull counter-ac­cu­sa­tion. BJP chief Nitin Gad­kari pre­pos­ter­ously de­nied that he is even a busi­ness­man;

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