The soul of JP must be very, very unhappy at the way his self-proclaimed admirers are becoming as adept in using the police as the Viceroys were, or Indira Gandhi during 1975-77.
The J.S. Verma Sex Offender Laws have not in the slightest prevented the abuse and exploitation of women, including those that are very young, while the laws brought in by Nitish Kumar to eliminate the consumption of alcohol in Bihar will fail as completely as similar laws have in Gujarat. Long ago, Ram Jethmalani sought as Law Minister to de-colonise the legal system in India by doing away with the many that reek of the colonial impulse. Not surprisingly, he was removed by the then PM from the job, for it is the civil society-phobic cast of the colonial governance model which ensures the flood of bribes and privilege that continues to curse this country seven decades into its post-1947 existence. What Nitish Kumar’s legislation will do is to give a boost to the mafias controlling the illicit liquor trade, and to kill through hooch those resident in Bihar. Those not killed will become slowly poisoned and diseased by the consumption of hooch that kills over time and not—in a more merciful manner—instantly. Looking at the promiscuous use of police power to imprison and to harass through the legal process that remains the fashion in India, no matter who gets elected to power, it is clear that the soul of Jayaprakash Narayan must be very, very unhappy at the way his self-proclaimed admirers are becoming as adept in using the police as the Viceroys were, or Indira Gandhi during 1975-77. There is very little difference in terms of attitudes towards the colonial governance system of either the Congress party or those it sent to prison during the Emergency. It was expected of Arvind Kejriwal that he would make improvements in RTI a priority by opening up the files of the Delhi government. These days, even Rahul Gandhi is talking the language of democratic change and enhancement of freedoms, words that would have been taken more seriously had he not re-nominated Sibal and Chidambaram to the Rajya Sabha. Clearly, freedoms come first while in opposition, while the police and other instruments of the state regain their supremacy when in government.
The soul of JP must be very, very unhappy at the way his self-proclaimed admirers are becoming as adept in using the police as the Viceroys were, or Indira Gandhi during 1975-77. Narendra Modi has talked of “minimum government” and this is certainly the only way India can be rescued from chaos. However, for this to become a reality, the PM will need to look beyond the Lutyens Lok in the matter of bringing into high office those that can help him lift the governance system to 21st century standards in place of the 19th century level it has been stuck in for the past century and three-quarters. As for Modi’s principal opponents in 2019, Arvind Kejriwal will need to reflect more on Aruna Roy and her passion for open government, while Nitish Kumar needs to implement JP’s philosophy of primacy to civil society in his official actions. Avoiding transparency in governance or jailing entire families for a technical offence is not the way such professed critics of the Emergency are expected to trod.