Liberty and Collective Action

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

 

FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION

 

A Nation’s Destiny

Set our course by the twinkle of the distant star and not by the light of the passing ship                                                                                               Anonymous

This week marks the anniversary of our nation’s Independence.  55 years ago Pandit Nehru set course for the new nation-state in his “Tryst with Destiny” speech.  This is as good a time as any to look at what course the country has taken and chart out a new bearing to put it back on course.

Corruption in Civil Services

The Civil Servants thought of themselves as Guardians, in the Platonic sense : “ All who are in any place of command in so far as they are indeed rulers, neither consider nor enjoin their own interest but that of the subjects on behalf of whom they exercise their craft….” (Republic)

 

Philip Woodruff : The Guardians

 

Public Opinion Is Everything

Haven’t we been complaining for long about the sorry state of affairs in India? Whenever two thinking citizens meet, isn’t the conversation inevitably about the extraordinary crisis facing the country – corruption, delay, inefficiency, extortion, criminalization? Why then aren’t we focusing on what can be done, instead of what is wrong? Is it just apathy, or skepticism, or cynicism, or is it something more?

Speak Up and Be Counted

This week marks the 27th anniversary of imposition of ”internal emergency” in this country. That dark chapter in our country’s history saw suspension of basic civil liberties and habeas corpus, and stifling of press freedom. About 100,000 people were incarcerated for daring to speak-up. Contrast this with just 864 persons detained during the whole of US Civil War!

Public Servant or Presiding Deity

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The press reported that Ms Humpy Koneru was in tears because she was not given the due recognition by the state government and the sports authorities for her recent accomplishment in becoming the youngest Indian grand master in chess. (Surely Humpy and her parents must have been aware that here even Nobel Prize winners are rarely given the media space they deserve - unless they happen to be controversial personalities. Only politicians, filmstars, and occasionally cricketers hog all the lime light in our society!) This set me thinking.

Doing a Good Job vs Keeping the Job

Like the summer heat of India, bribery is something which most of us have come to accept as part of being Indian. And just as in the case of the weather, many of us talk at length but do nothing about it because we think that it is a doomed fight anyway. We haven’t even given it a try. And what is worse, for every one person making that extra effort, there are hundreds actively discouraging from the sidelines. Every one of us should shun the company of such cynics with as much dread and aversion as we would a plague. Show me a single cynical achiever!

State and Civil Society

What is and what should be the nature of relationship between the civil society and state? This gnawing question has been troubling the students of political science for quite some time. It is only in the last decade, after the liberalization process was initiated, that the debate on the relationship between the state and civil society has come to occupy considerable space in the public discourse.

Change of Players vs Rules of The Game

align="left">This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the most defining event of our republic’s history – the imposition of ‘emergency’ during the midnight of June 25-26, 1975.  Thirty years is a long enough period to enable us to take a dispassionate, objective view of the tumultuous events of that period.

Quick Fixes or Reinvention of Government?

align="left">The Union cabinet recently decided to appoint the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (SARC), and a group of ministers has been constituted to finalize the terms of reference. This is in keeping with the UPA government’s commitment, and the Prime Minister’s oft-repeated concern about revamping the delivery system.