Losing touch with the ruled

Two issued rocked the media in the last couple of days. One is the foreign junket of MLAs and some MPs from Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. The other is the utter callousness of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav who chose to spend time enjoying the ‘tamasha’ on display by Bollywood stars in Saifai, UP, ignoring the trauma of the Muzaffarnagar riot victims who were dying of the cold in makeshift camps. Such insouciance from the ruling class is reminiscent of Louis XVI on the eve of the French Revolution. It is a recent phenomenon that MLAs and MPs would take off for cooler climes abroad to avoid the harsh Indian summers and to warmer foreign locales during the winters. Hence the Karnataka MPs traveled to New Zealand and Australia which are enjoying their summers now, because of their location in the southern hemisphere. These junkets have been given the honourable nomenclature of “study tours,” when the journey is more touristic than about study. Why would Indian legislators have to travel to foreign countries to learn about democracy and governance? Should they not be traveling to the Maoist hit areas to better understand the situation in their own country? Why do they choose attractive locales such as Australia, New Zealand, UK, the Netherlands, Rome, US and even middle eastern countries like Egypt, Dubai, Turkey etc, that don’t have any semblance of democracy? Why don’t they travel to South Sudan to see the complexities of statecraft and anarchy because that is where India seems to be headed? However, when the Prime Minister of the country is himself known as the most widely traveled head of state (to foreign countries, 67 times in 9 years) others can only follow suit. In a system where no accountability is sought from those who spend such public money recklessly, it is natural that such junkets become de jure and get an official stamp. Thankfully the media has brought this obnoxious practice to the public domain.

On the issue of politics and Bollywood, the two have become synonymous now, with the Rajya Sabha looking like a star-studded arena. When the serial blasts happened in Patna on 26 October last year, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde rushed to Mumbai instead to attend a Bollywood programme and even apologised for reaching there late. Such lack of concern for the ruled, by a Home Minister of the country can only be called abominable! Can India afford to be ruled by such men and women who are no longer in sync with the travails of the people?

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