Happy New Year!

2013 has been an eventful year – in particular in Delhi. In my latest livemint column, an assortment of views on recent events that made up 2013 in India. So how did the four pillars of our democracy do?

First of all, on the spendid victory of AAP

the emergence of the AAP (in Delhi at least) as a credible political alternative was not an ordinary event—and one that singlehandedly makes this year-end a promising one. A party that has sewn together a coalition that cuts across socio-economic classes, not based on an attempt to consolidate any kind of religious or caste identity, deserves our attention. The question now is not whether the AAP can replicate its success in other parts of the country—does this open up a new strand of possibility across the country? And are there political entrepreneurs like Kejriwal who may be inspired to seize the moment?

More of the same for Congress and BJP – one’s accumulated sins might benefit the other by default, but this is by no means a settled affair. While there is AAP at one end, there are also strong regional forces that have established themselves as clear winners in their own bastions. Overall though, this has been a terrible year for the traditional politician – Lalu Yadav being jailed was a symbol for the exposed political class that was no longer fully immune; and a highly cynical middle-class gaining in strength on the wings of the AAP and IAC in openly challenging the supremacy of the political class. Yes, the Parliament is supreme and often, politicians sought to hide behind that plea. Admittedly, many of us were adamant that the Parliament was indeed supreme and street fights were not the way to go. However, the argument that the Parliament is supreme, but those that occupy it today sully the very sanctity and thereby the supremacy of institutions such as the Parliament, became stronger as the year went by. I am partly persuaded, or at least, quite confused about what to think of this issue now. The fact that the Parliament hardly functioned this year made it harder to side with the political class.

There has been plenty else of note in this year – Justice Verma’s recommendations and the renewed focus on the status of women, in particular. A bad year for the judiciary on the whole I would say – accused fairly of over-reach in many instances; the reaction to the Justice Ganguly scandal and finally, its widely condemned and embarrassing stance on 377. It seemed as if the courts wanted to runt he country by judicial diktat, but at the same time, was not prepared to ensure sufficient probity and responsiveness within its own systems

The corporate sector that is cheering Modi to the next polls has often spoken out against the inaction of the current government and insinuated quite openly that India’s image has taken a beating on the global stage. This is hypocrisy at its best. Were any of these scams possible without the involvement of greedy corporates? Did they not play their part in making crony-capitalism the order of the day? Except for the polish and PR, have they done enough to win our trust? The sad answer is a resounding NO.

The media in India has lost its sheen after Radia-gate and the fact that it carries on as if nothing happened is a testimony to the crisis of conscience today. Arnab Goswami and Barkha Dutt do not represent me. If anything, it has become increasingly difficult to decide whom/what to believe in this age of excessive information; theatrics and manufactured rage in the television studios. Representatives of various opinion groups routinely turn up and lie through their hats (and mikes) day in and day out. What is the way out?

2013 has been an eventful year. What does 2014 have in store?


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