By Maj Gen Mrinal Suman
My mother is an 88-year-old highly alert lady. She has her own opinion on every conceivable subject, from flaws in the selection of the Indian cricket team to the nuclear treaty with the US. Having been born and brought up in Lahore, she always reminisces about the 'good old days'. Watching TV news, she cannot resist comparing pre-1947 days with the current state of affairs.
"I used to travel with my children in the ladies compartment from Karachi to Bombay in complete safety, with a sole lathi-wielding policeman patrolling every station. Today even with a posse of armed railway policemen in each train, women are not safe," is her refrain.
"There is no law and order in this country. Governance was much better during the British days. Things were cheaper and lives were safer. Indian leaders are corrupt and inefficient," she declares dismissively.
After watching a TV round up of a particularly bad and depressing day, she made an extraordinary suggestion, "Our leaders have failed miserably. We should outsource governance to competent foreign or Indian entities on contractual basis. I am not suggesting foreign rule. We should simply outsource governance."
Needless to say that such a proposition, even if made in casual vein, reflects the degree of disgust and disenchantment amongst common people. Undoubtedly, poor political leadership has let India down. Politics has come to be identified with everything immoral and decadent. Sadly, political leaders cannot be expected to change as they believe in the ends and not the means employed. The only way out is to curtail their role and thereby reduce their all-pervading bad influence on citizens' lives. That can only be done by outsourcing certain well-identified functions to expert agencies.
Image: British soldiers stand outside India Gate in Delhi in this picture dating from pre-Independence days. (Copyright: AFP. Unauthorised reproduction is prohibited.)