Few beyond the legal and diplomatic communities would have been aware of the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitration Tribunal: so nomination to it is not a plum appointment, as is (for example) elevation to the International Criminal Court or judicial panels under the UN umbrella. Nor is serving on the CAST professionally or financially rewarding.

The “front page” quality of Mr Justice AK Sikri’s requesting the government not to proceed with recommending his appointment to the Commonwealth panel is that it powerfully and painfully articulates the extent to which carcinogenic politics has poisoned so many spheres of public life these days. For the member of the apex court was rightly perturbed at the “buzz” doing the rounds that his nomination was a quid pro quo reward for his siding with the government, not the Opposition, in an assessment of the former head of the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Even though the nomination had been spoken about long before the Chief Justice of India had seconded him to the panel on the CBI chief’s appointment. Those who presently relish making a political issue out of everything for petty gain care little for the status and reputation of those whom they drag down into the cesspool in which they flourish. No organisation or institution has been spared as the same tarnished brush has been wielded on the armed services, civil service, banking, aviation and mining sectors.

Netas who have no credentials with which to back themselves with are super-effective when dragging others into the pits: none have been spared ~ as a perusal of recent political exchanges would confirm. Such are the conditions that prevail that upright and honest persons are wary of getting involved in any sphere of activity in which a political angle may manifest itself since unqualified politicians now call the shots. Political gains are all that matter nowadays ~ witness the pre-poll initiatives ~ and success is calculated on the basis of seats won or governments installed. Not a thought is given to the quality of governance, the welfare of the people.

True that the sins are committed across the political spectrum, but the ruling party at the Centre has a moral responsibility to set the standards of administrative propriety. The tragedy today is that the ruling party seeks and wields power by polarising society, is determined to divide the people on the basis of religion, caste, region, language, economic diversity and so on. India exists as a single entity only on a map, perhaps on the cricket field. The seeds of disintegration have been sown, fertilised by the political discourse. The trickling down effect can so easily be discerned. Mr Justice AK Sikri was “touchy” enough to be hurt by what the bush telegraph conveys, many more are immune to such sensitivity and perpetuate the rot. As the old saying goes “fish rots from the head”.