Just when automotive major Maruti-Suzuki is showing the way to the domestic industry in dumping the dirty fuel, Congress president Rahul Gandhi (did his uncle not have something to do with Suzuki’s arrival in India?) hails his pet panacea for the nation’s well-being, the Nyay scheme, as providing the “diesel for the engine of the economy.”
At one level it points to how outmoded is the political class’ thinking on pollution related issues, at another that blunder highlights the miniscule priority that environmental conservation is receiving in the current cut-throat election campaigning.
Rahul is by no means the sole offender, yet it is disturbing that when it is universally acknowledged climate-change and allied issues pose a grave threat to the planet, our politicians believe that militant nationalism, divisive social, caste, religious and regional factors can have such tremendous appeal to voters in the world’s most exhaustive electoral essay.
True that Nyay does touch some core issues, but the larger reality remains that giving a bloody nose to Pakistan resonates more than agrarian distress, rampant unemployment etc. It is not that the people are unaware of those challenges, just that having no convincing solutions the politicians prefer to divert the public mind away from them, so it is back to the timetested theories and practices of yesteryear.
Does the caste-composition of a constituency still not play a key role in candidate-selection? What adds further insult to the injury to the intelligence of the voter is how the ruling party has opted to “drop” some of the very projects that the Prime Minister had waxed eloquent over during his speeches from the Red Fort over the past few years.
It cannot be that all targets have been attained in educating the girl child, building toilets, eliminating coal-fires, saving rural women the chore of fetching water from the river/well for the household to drink or wash their clothes ~ any list of such continuing problems would be endless yet few politicians opt to talk about them during the run-up to the polls.
Every party has been in power at some time or the other or at one level or the other, so they are collectively responsible for the non-delivery of the citizen’s “basics.” The voter too has a responsibility to share; rather than attempt to question candidates for promises not kept they allow their emotions to be swayed by “traditional” factors.
Every winter Delhi and adjoining areas choke on polluted air, but has any party made a poll-promise about putting an end to the burning of crop stubble, or reducing auto-emissions? Upgraded norms may reduce the number of diesel cars a few years hence, but what about less-smoke trucks? Maybe Rahul is not wrong when he talks of Nyay as providing the economy its fuel. Many politicians still equate pollution- belching chimneys with “development.”