Indias biggest problem is bad governance and one reason why we always fail to address it is because we get distracted much too often by useless debates
Spend the next five minutes examining why floods in other countries do not kill thousands of people. Then think of the horrible disaster in Uttarakhand and ask yourself why civilian authorities needed to call the Army for help and you may correctly conclude that the real reason for the disaster was bad governance. Hysterical environmental groups have already started shrieking about builders lobbies and dams without noticing that there are cities and highways built in the Alps that have done no environmental harm.
Indias biggest problem is bad governance and one reason why we always fail to address it is because we get distracted much too often by useless debates on things such as secularism. We are in such a situation yet again because of the Chief Minister of Bihar,who has once more raised the flag of secularism to hide under when he is really only playing politics. This time his antics are ironic and slightly pathetic since he does it ostensibly to restore the glory of the man who invented the term pseudo-secularism and led the mightiest Hindutva movement of all. His chariot ride from Somnath to Ayodhya left hundreds of dead Muslims in its wake and ended with the demolition of a fine 16th-century mosque. Today he has become a secular icon!
The fraudulence of Nitish Kumars secular reasons for leaving the NDA got exposed in his most recent speech in the Bihar legislature,made during the vote of confidence debate. Instead of extolling secularism,the chief minister denounced Modis achievements in Gujarat. Among other things,he said that Modis only success was that he had bewitched corporate India. He added that it was no achievement to bring development to a developed state,but to bring it to a desperately poor and backward state like Bihar was a huge achievement. Aha,Mr Nitish Kumar,that mask of modesty and humility is beginning to slip,is it not? And,if you detest corporate India so much,why do you seek to lure private investors to your wretchedly poor state? The Bihar model is not a new economic vision but a bundle of socialist contradictions.
The truth is that Nitish only started talking about his model when talk of the Gujarat model began. All that he has done in Bihar is bring a little bit of governance to a state that Mr and Mrs Lalu Yadav had turned into a feudal fiefdom for a decade. If Mr Kumar wants to become prime minister,he must do more. He must explain things that he has not been clear about. Does he believe India needs private investment to build the infrastructure we sorely need? Does he believe that the main controls of the economy should be in the hands of the state?
He must explain exactly what he means by inclusive growth? Does he consider it non-inclusive growth that the average Gujarati villager now has electricity available to him 24 hours a day because of some very clever planning by the man he hates so much? Does he consider it non-inclusive that in remote,forested districts in Gujarat it is now possible to drive on paved roads?
Nitish has always been a socialist so it is important for us to know if he continues to believe that socialism is the future. If he does,then he will make an excellent ally for the Congress because in the past decade Sonia Gandhi has taken us back on a socialist,statist economic journey that has today brought us back to those unhappy times when her mother-in-law ruled and Indias only dream was garibi hatao.
There is no harm in the Chief Minister of Bihar aspiring to one day soon become the prime minister of India. It should be the aspiration of anyone who chooses to make a career in politics. But why is it so hard for him to say this without draping himself in veils of secularism? Why is it so hard for him to admit that the main reason why he decided it was time to get out of the NDA was because he now sees clearly that the BJP is bent on making his rival its leader?
If there are any of you out there who still believe that Nitish did what he did for secular reasons,then you really need to sit yourselves down and read whatever you can about the Ayodhya movement. While you are at it,pay careful attention to the number of major riots that occurred under the secular rule of Congress chief ministers.
India needs good governance urgently if it is to prevent future tragedies like the one unfolding horribly in Uttarakhand just now. It does not need duplicitous discourses that distract us from the real issue: an absence of minimum standards of governance.
Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleen_singh