Middle-class governance

We live in an age of action for, of, and by the people

It is a zoo out there. Allegations, counters, damp squibs, blood money, clan against clan, people against the powerful, wannabe politicians against entrenched feudal lords, and anchors involved in gladiatorial contests across channels. It is "news as entertainment" for us, the middle class. It is a sad-happy moment. Sad that it is this way, and happy that the cleansing of the system has begun in earnest.

What is common across the angst is a clamour for better governance — whether it is in the delivery of subsidies meant for the poor, agricultural items like irrigation water, the cleaning up of black coal residues or hi-tech allocations of spectrum. The anger of the middle class has been fuelled by the fear and belief, in equal measure, that the citizen has been ripped off. By the politicians who run the government.

Surely, the most important buzzword is "governance". But who is interested in governance? Surely not those involved in misgovernance, which would likely include large sections of the political class, and the associated tribesmen. Let us call them the exploiters. The very poor are not interested because they are too poor and too involved in eking out survival. Which leaves us with a large swathe of the middle class, the class that pays taxes, the class that aspires to a better tomorrow and realises that a better future for it can only come about from a better future for all. In stark contrast, the mindset of the exploiters still belongs to an old age, one in which its own betterment can only come about at the expense of others, that is, a zero sum game.

Let us recount what has been achieved by "civil society" and its middle-class representatives over the last few years. Most importantly, in future, any stealing from the people's cookie jars will require an out-of-the-ballpark arrogance and audacity. Phrased differently, it would require a stupidity of the highest order, something even our politicians are not capable of. Previously, only corporate insiders went to jail, like Ramalinga Raju of Satyam. Now, politicians do go to jail for white-collar crimes or crimes associated with misgovernance. Tragically, criminal indictments are still difficult for serious crimes like rape and murder, but this is also in the process of being corrected.

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