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Asaram, Cauvery and Dipak Mishra

India is today suffering from a severely fractured polity. It is not good for the country. People, not just politicians, have stopped taking stands on facts. Leanings, affiliations, and ‘name-calling’ is the new normal. On Twitter, there are multiple anonymous handles that spew venom.
India is a nation of diversity. Diversity in the form of religion: Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. In my growing up years, I never saw adults fight based on who practised which religion. In fact, many of us hardly knew which religion and what caste our friends belonged. Today, fights are par on course, and they are not just in Hyderabad, “Where two major religious groups have clashed,” as Doordarshan would once say (!), but bang there on the television studio.
Diversity in the form of political leanings: Congress, BJP or the Left. Here altercations are raised to ever new levels. In my growing up years, I did see people ‘adda’ over politics with decibel levels pitched high. Today, with the anonymity that social media gives, noise has reached stratospheric levels. The electronic media, which preys on people’s baser instincts like the vernacular media once did, organises debates that no one can hear. The noise level is high on the Richter scale. In my growing-up years, I rarely saw adults raise their voice in public platforms. Some of the worthies who have left India to seek greener dollars abroad and given up their Indian passports, frequently educate us through TV on patriotism!
Every observation, every comment, is taken to a new pitch. A simple statement by Dr Manmohan Singh saying that Mr. Modi, who had accused him of silence, should now speak on the rape cases, lead to a sharp, acerbic, and personal retort by Ravi Shankar Prasad. The less said about men like Dr. Sambit Patra and Dr. G V L N Rao, the better. Little wonder, we have the likes of Mani Shankar Iyer, vitriolic and nastily pungent in such an environment. By these standards, the prime minister was gentle when he castigated Renuka Chowdhry in parliament.
There is no sense of reconciliation and moving forward. While I do agree that the Loya case called for investigation given the kind of questions that Caravan magazine has raised, we need to accept the judgment of the courts and move forward. You may have reservations about bench-fixing (and judges are no holy saints), but you need to respect the institution. I do agree that judgments are bizarre. While one court awards double life sentence and then allows the convict to be on bail, a higher court completely exonerates that person.

Reconciliation essential

Remember, if India has managed to survive as a functioning democracy it is because we have maintained the delicate balance between parliament and judiciary. Seeking impeachment of a judge who has only a few months to go, does not behove well for India. The Congress may have a point, but reconciliation is essential.
While the Congress is apparently at fault, the BJP is no saint. Quite often Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad had taken potshots at the judiciary, maybe because during their lawyer days the courts rapped their knuckles. The NDA II government is sitting over the recommendations of the Supreme Court and on appointment of judges for months. Not filling up the bench, lingering for long over appointments, etc. do not go well. This government has not even appointed the Lok Ayukta. Today every institution has been politicised and everyone is to be blamed for this, myself included.
We need urgent judicial reforms maintaining independence of the judiciary. People who do not implement the legal order like the Cauvery Management Board should be put behind bars. The courts have to work a double shift. There should be no more than three hearings and only one adjournment on either side. Unless issues involve a matter of constitutional law, the High Court should be the highest court of appeal.
In our desire to lionise a man and demonise another in a country where politicians are by definition unclean, let us not degrade India in the comity of nations.

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