Millennium Post

It’s about educating our ‘Falana Singhs’

The ‘Falana Singh’ oath episode of panchs and sarpanchs in Punjab’s Bhatinda district on last Saturday gives a classic example of how uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, in the Panchayati Raj system. Yet, the scenario gives a bright perspective of bringing the grassroots people into the system of governance, which is the motto of Panchayati Raj Institutions.

Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal’s repeated advice to the elected panchs and sarpanchs to pronounce their own names and not ‘Falana Singh’ as they were advised in a demonstration, was an indicator to the fact that the new self-government leaders are neither educated and nor have enough common sense. They all seem to have been overawed in the presence of the VVIPs in their middle, in the oath ceremony, and committed the mistake. It is unique to recognise that the ‘Falana Singhs’ in Punjab are comparatively well groomed, as the state has generally been prosperous with lower crime rates than others in the country. There are many such ‘Falana Singhs’ in other states who are essential members contributing to national tragedies that come to light time to time, and many of them are netted by laws.

Going by the crime graph released for 2012 by the National Crime Records Bureau, Punjab leads the UT Chandigarh and states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura having committed only about 25 crimes each during the whole year, against the average of 5,000 cases in southern, eastern and other northern states.  A newspaper’s raillery covering the event of oath-taking in Bhatinda district, followed up by the statistical mention of the education level of the prosperous state is also a malaprop (sic) of sorts. The report should not have been to such direction. It is because Punjab alone is not the example of returning the uneasy incumbents to basic level of self- governance. Many states having higher education graph also have returned their panchs and sarpanchs in the Panchayati Raj system, who do things much beneath the dignity of their positions.

The pronouncements of ‘Falana Singh’ during the oath taking ceremony in Bhatinda district panchayat, causing much embarrassment to the veteran chief minister of Punjab Prakash Singh Badal, is only an example that in India legislative seats are not always won by merit but through other considerations – like partisan tilts, money with muscle power and the nexus interests. And herein lies the Quality rap: ‘When you are out of quality, you are out of business.’ Business for Badal is his quality of governance. He should have kept in mind what founding fathers of America and the third president of the USA, Thomas Jefferson, once said about public activities, ‘Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.’ Almost all Indian states in the country have elected the inadequately educated and incompetent persons into lawmaking, who use the temples of democracy (here it is the Panchayat) for personal prosperity.
In fact entering the election fray itself requires huge financial contribution to certain political parties, and people who do it would definitely try to elicit the return of their money thus invested to grab a legislative seat of power.

In Punjab’s case, this may not be different, however not clear. But not being able to understand what they were required to speak, that is, their names and not what was said as a guideline, (‘Falana Singh’) by the chief minister, was something epitomising the callous approach to the job. One expected more rational response during the occasion, which was evidently very big for the panchs and sarpanchs in the PRI system. This also tells about the lack of a system of good governance within the political parties. It is the duty of the parties to bring in candidates who deserve and have some ideology to preserve, and not join the temples of democracy for capitalising on what they contributed to their parties. Perhaps, it is time that the panchayati raj ministry had thought like Mussourie-based Lal Bahadur Shashtri National Academy of Administration, by roping in the services of American Society for Quality to restructure the warp and weft of their governance system.
Panchayati Raj system is like the valuable strategic nut in the body of the massive Indian agrarian spacecraft readied for launch.

It cannot afford to put a weak nut holding the massive body of rural economy. If this quality need is appreciated, probably, more competent people would join the election fray for the seat of power and rule, and we would not get uneasy heads to wear the crown of power mindlessly parroting at oath-taking ceremony,
‘Mai Falana Singh etc…’.
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