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Conflicts in the Capital

The Capital of an aspiring world power cannot seem to get its master plan right at any level

Conflicts in the Capital

In the heat and dust of our city of Delhi, a battle rages about who has the right to govern this famed capital of an aspiring nation on the threshold of being counted as a world power. Yes, indeed on the threshold it has been for over a decade and a half and if the State Bank's analysis of the future has to be believed, then it has only another ten years left to cross the threshold. However, for the present, we seem to be staring at the ruins of all edifices of governance, both as contemplated by the Constitution and expected to be observed by the people's representatives and the Civil Services as expected to work in public interest.

Anyone, who has a preferred party leaning, the guilty party can be identified very easily. You judge as per the party after your heart. For the citizen, who has rumour, gossip, and newspapers or the breaking news channels as their source, the landscape is very, very blurred. The daily slanging and shouting does not help to clear the dusty air we collectively breathe. Sometimes, it looks as if the politicians are engaged in the theatre of the absurd and sometimes the bureaucracy comes across as motivatedly obdurate if not downright insincere in its posturing.

Politics, in general, is theatre and grandstanding. The players mostly act as dream merchants, much like merchant bankers, and spin utopian yarns to presumed gullible voters. Bureaucracy, by contrast, has anonymity for its comfort and working room, with the ability to call all the assets of the state to perform for the benefit of the people. Sure, some chafe at the anonymity and seek the limelight, but they are usually those who have climbed on the shoulders of their performing colleagues. It is another matter that this tribe is on the increase, but we still have the country held together and this is largely because of the 'anonymous' performer. Well, anonymity, the genuinely civil part of the services, until now, is out on the streets, holding pressers and giving bland justifications of working as per the Constitutional script.

By all publicly expressed accounts, the Constitutional script has been altered by all sides in the contest to suit their cause. The consequences are dangerous in every which way. Sure the scheme of things in the Capital is structured to give primacy to the Governor but she is the 'friend, philosopher and guide' to the holders of political office in her jurisdiction and not an adversary and, certainly not, someone with a mission entrusted by holders of a political office of another dispensation. The instruments of state governance, on the other hand, are playing with fire. Whatever be the truth of their posturing of performance, the very idea of a civil service is being put to the sword. The choreographed resistance in the disguise of victimhood is a collective distortion of their presumed neutrality. Ministers and politicians have been confronted before, but on principle with the integrity of the bureaucrat as the only weapon and in each such contest the Civil Servant's dignity prevailed. To erode the credibility of the entire class of Civil Service, an irredeemable price will be paid and it will be to the disadvantage of the services. Political and party battles can be fought by the politicians and their supporters in public, but the Civil Services must never be seen, even by imputation, as assisting these battles.

The state of the Capital is in a huge mess. The local government (municipal authorities) has been a singularly outstanding example of non- performance. Here is the Capital of an aspiring world power, which cannot even get its Master Plan right at any level. What about waste management, what about water management, what about civic infrastructure, what about local measures to combat dust in the atmosphere. Why should action be started only when the Prime Minister or the Home Minister or the Governor induces the administrators to perform mandated tasks. Sure, climate complications cannot be controlled but equally, there can be adaptive measures set in motion systemically. The system is broken.

The welfare of the city and public interest cannot be held in abeyance any longer. The struggle for existence, already is an uphill climb for most of the population, under normal conditions, but to accentuate the miseries by disingenuous pretensions of the concerned players is piling the misery. The holders of office took the oath of office by swearing on the Constitution and not at the Constitution of our country. While the oath is plain text, the context is of a very large magnitude. Fortitude, sagacity, and foresight are presumed to be vested in those called upon to take the oath and this means they have to work the circumstances, no matter how obdurate and unreasonable the players. The last exit option is to do away with the elected government if it cannot be made to work. We must remember that oaths sworn must be respected by ALL because if the people start swearing, we will all lose and lose BIG. Small minds in high offices will only bring harm to the democratic fabric, such as we have.

(The views expressed are strictly personal)

Raj Liberhan

Raj Liberhan

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