Churchill's Prophesy about India's Governence

Rotten system, bad governance

Second opinion: RN Chawla

This has reference to article, "Broken windows" (September 17), by Jagmohan. The writer has aptly brought out the near anarchic situation prevailing in the country on all three fronts -- internal security, public order and general law and order. Social cohesiveness, which over the years has received severe beating, too, needs to be added to these spheres.

The malaise arising out of this all-round deterioration has assumed such gigantic proportions that the stability and future progress of the country at an accelerated pace have been severely curtailed. While commenting on rapidly deteriorating situation, Jagmohan has quoted Lord Wavell's observations: "Indians can be governed firmly or not at all." Perhaps Lord Wavell was pointing towards our habit, acquired through long periods of subjugation under different masters, of submitting to an authority which governed with an iron hand. It also implied that there was near absence of good governance in the sub-continent.

In retrospect, producing an extract from the speech of Winston Churchill delivered in British Parliament on the eve of our independence would be worthwhile: "Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will fight among themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles."

Such sweeping condemnation of our political class as a whole might be an exaggeration. But the way Indian polity has unfolded itself over the years and the rat race for power exhibited by all political parties do not enthuse any informed observer. The possibility of good governance emerging under such leadership, which according to Jagmohan is being thrown up on caste, communal and group interests, is grim. The rot in the system that had set in, prompted JK Galbraith, the US Ambassador to India between 1961 and 1963, to term Indian democracy as "functioning anarchy".

Over the years, the saner elements in all political parties have been marginalised. Muscle and money power have replaced probity and hard work. It is because of the inherent resilience of the nation, coupled with microscopic minority of some good leaders, that we have defied Churchill's gloomy prognosis of losing India to political squabbles. Are we not moving in the direction as predicted by Churchill? Was his statement only political or prophetic?