If the people of the village, in the best traditions of the hallowed democratic process, elect the village idiot as the King and Supreme Ruler of the village, I cannot for the life of me bring myself to find fault with the village idiot. It’s not the idiot’s fault that nature dealt him or her a lousy hand in the random genetic draw of life. He’s a congenital idiot and makes no demands on being recognized as a paragon of wisdom and insight. Based on that principle, I indicted the American voter for electing — not once but twice — Mr George W Bush. I can see no reason for not applying that principle to India.
Rahul Gandhi, aka Rahul baba, is a decent enough chap. He didn’t choose to be born to the Gandhi family any more than he sat around selecting his genes from the human gene pool. It was a random draw. He cannot be held responsible for the actions of a fairly large segment of the Indian population who would in all likelihood have him as the ruler of India’s destiny in a short few years. India is a democracy, don’t you know, and the will of the people (admittedly a minority in all known cases) prevails.
India is a country of over 1.2 billion people, about 800 million of whom are desperately poor. None of us can even comprehend how they live their lives — on less than US$ 2 equivalent a day; children malnourished and no prospects of their ever realizing their potential; no access to clean drinking water or sanitation; no chance of getting a decent education; never eating good food or enjoying any of the marvelous goodies that modern society has to offer. Nearly the same number — around 700 million — is not reasonably educated and around 500 million of them are actually illiterate even in the 21st century of the CE.
For nearly all of its existence as an independent political entity, India has been ruled by the Congress party. The Congress party made all the rules that govern the economy. Ultimately rules are what matter and dictate the destiny of states. Economic policies, a subset of the set of rules, determine whether the country is desperately poor (such as India) or reasonably rich (such as Taiwan.) Social policy determine whether there is social peace (such as in many developed Western European countries) or there is internal discord (as in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and most tragically India.)
It seems hard for me to avoid the conclusion that India’s present dire straits must be the doing of the Congress party. But then another thought arises. It was not some heavenly diktat or supernatural force that made the Congress to have such destructive power on India. In India they take democracy seriously, as we are tirelessly reminded to the point of tedium. The Congress party ruled and rules because the people find them worthy.
The Americans have a saying, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” The people could be forgiven for raising Nehru on a pedestal and worshiping him for a few years following the political independence of India. But to keep electing his entire set of incompetent descendants whose policies have deepened poverty, divided the country on caste and religious lines, and generally made life hell for nearly all Indians, is the height of folly. Being fooled repeatedly by the same party should be a matter of extreme shame for the being so stupid and gullible. Indians should collectively do what the Hindi saying advices — chullu bhar pani mein doob maro.
I have spoken to people who have had the opportunity to observe first hand who Rahul Gandhi is. One person spent three days with him during the last general elections. That person said to me, “He’s really a nice guy. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer. As a matter of fact, I don’t think he could hold down the job of a head waiter at a road-side restaurant. Doesn’t have the intellectual horsepower to manage the complexities of head-waitering. But he will get to follow the footsteps of his father, his grandmother, and this great grandfather. Really a pity for India but that’s god’s honest truth.”
For years I have been saying that the character of Indian leadership should make us weep and keep us awake at night. Not so much because the leaders are incompetent, lying, myopic, immoral cretins — which evidently they are — but because the character of the Indian leaders is a sure indication of the character of the Indian voters. If one believed in the theory that one’s past lives’ karma dictate one’s fortune in the current life, one would have to conclude that in their past lives, Indians must have accumulated pretty horrendous bad karma. I don’t believe in the past life thing but I do believe in the theory that we produce our own karma in this very life — and then we or our children pay for our misdeeds.
It is all karma, neh?
[This post was inspired by a Tavleen Singh column in the Indian Express titled "A Tutorial for Rahul baba."]