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February 9, 1998


'If the Ambanis took charge of the economy, how long will they let it run as a loss making organisation?'

Arun Arora, 39, manager, Residency Park Hotel, Dhule, Maharashtra

Arun Arora What kind of satisfaction does a layman get, or expect, from Indian politics today? Our politicians only live for themselves, they have no idea of the needs and problems of the ordinary citizen. This is the unhappy scenario that we in India face today.

I want to see it change. I want to see politicians work for the good of the public. I want them to know the needs of the people they represent, and to satisfy those needs. Sometimes, I wonder whether we should leave all this up to our politicians. And I begin to think what I can do to improve the situation.

But that feeling goes away soon because we, as a nation, have deteriorated to such an extent that the effort or sacrifice of one individual will not make any difference. Cleaning up the mess that our nation is in today is not a job for any one individual. If India has to prosper, we need proper planning and the proper execution of those plans. This will happen only if we have the right people at the helm.

What we need today is the infusion of new blood into politics -- and this new blood should comprise of professionals and other educated people. Also, politics has become such a dirty word today that, as part of the revamp process, we need to give it a new name.

Look at the way we have changed. India was once known as the sone ki chidia (golden bird). Today, we are the dumping ground for the more advanced nations. We are plagued with internal problems -- poverty, illiteracy, pollution, unemployment. No one is interested in the country. Courts take forever to deliver justice. People take the law into their own hands. Destruction of public property is a public phenomenon. We have reached the sorry stage where the youth are dying before their elders.

When I travel to and fro from home, I see the poverty that lines the streets -- people have to do their ablutions and relieve themselves on the street because they have no private place to do so. And I feel ashamed that I am travelling comfortably by car when there are such constraints facing our country.

I want to make my country great. But what do I do? Where do I start? How can you expect progress in a country where the teachers -- the moulders of the nation -- are a poor and unhappy lot?

Then I look at our huge geographical area, and I see hope. I look at our vast population and I hope. Hope that we become the world's sone ki chidia once again. What we need is proper planning, proper policy. We need to utilise our population as an asset, to employ this huge human resource constructively so as to gain from it.

The tragedy is -- there are people out there who are eminently capable of leading this nation into a glorious future. But they are just not coming forward. They are scared of the politicians who will block their path and undo their effort. Take India's leading businessmen for example. Aren't they the right people to take charge of the Indian economy? If the Ambanis, for example, took charge of the economy, how long will they let it run as a loss making organisation? Will they not turn it around as fast as possible?

Arun Arora But then, the motives of such people should be altruistic. Money should not be their final aim. They should make an effort to understand the needs of the country. And tackle the problems by dividing the work amongst themselves -- maybe, a consortium of the country's top businessmen could be formed to tackle the nation's economic problems.

Which is why I really admire J R D Tata. His mind was not limited to the Tata group of companies -- he also had the interests of the nation at heart. But the kind of politics that we have in India -- the corruption, the red tapeism, the bootlicking -- stopped him from taking on a really constructive role.

Alternately, if that is not possible, India should go in for a benevolent dictatorship for a set period of years -- the agenda being to get the nation on the path to progress. Something like what Babasaheb Ambedkar had suggested, but a more modern version, of course. The dictatorship should be in the public interest.

I began seriously considering this prospect after Indira Gandhi's Emergency in 1975. Though the Emergency had many negative points, there were a few positive aspects. It forced the people to discipline themselves -- for example, they had to come into work on time, the bureaucrats had to work for the public interest. They did not have any opportunity to misuse their power.

I would love to see a time where the government functioned on transparency -- and everyone did their jobs honestly. I will request God to grant my country prosperity so that people no longer fight over small things.

What do I expect from the 12th Parliament? I think I will let my expectations wait until the next government is formed. Because I know I cannot really expect much from them. What can I expect when all the parties are still talking about trumped-up religious issues instead of planning about the future?

I do vote in every election -- but it is a question of choosing the best from the worst. So it is not a very easy choice. I vote only because I know it is my democratic duty to help elect a government. Otherwise, every election is the same -- it does not give you a sense of satisfaction at doing something, nor does it mean any kind of major positive change for the nation.

I might vote for the BJP this time -- at least it is some kind of change; they might do something positive. Only time will tell. Somehow, I have the feeling they will not be as bad as the previous governments. If not, we won't lose anything.

In the long run, though, I don't foresee a grim picture for India. Things will change with time; something new, something better will evolve. A better time will come. Who knows? In the future, we may not even have individual nations. You know, the one concept of one world, one family might really take hold. But we will have a good government.

You can never predict what happens in the future. Things that man could not, at one time, dream of, let alone comprehend, have come true. Today, we believe in one God. We believe he keeps records of all our activities, on the basis of which we will be tried on Judgement Day. But how does God keep tabs on every moment in the lives of so many billions of people?

Tomorrow, man may discover the technology of keeping tabs on man. Then, corruption will reduce dramatically, because people won't be able to hide their corrupt activities. These changes will come with time, given the way science is changing so rapidly and dramatically.

As told to Savera R Someshwar. Photographs: Jewella C Miranda

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