Lowering Standards of Morality in Public Life……...by Pushpinder Singh Gill
September 11, 2021: The World has seen a very successful Summer Olympics games being conducted in Tokyo recently and the full credit for successful completion of these games goes to Japanese PM YoshihideSuga.
The entire sports fraternity is in full praise for PM Suga‘s management and handling of affairs. While someone else should have enjoyed the limelight, PM Suga announced that he will soon resign because the People of his country are not satisfied with the way he has handled the corona pandemic. This too when he is in control of affairs for just over a year. We call this the highest ethical and moral standards and a way of performing in public life.
This forced me to compare the things and the way they are being conducted and happening here in India and especially in my home State Punjab. Where do our politicians stand as a barometer of morality in public life? Let us go back to April 2021, when we witnessed the deadly second wave of Corona. The country has never seen such days at least in present memory and millions suffered during those tense times.
No State Govt. presented the true picture rather they were over-busy in hiding the facts and their inept handling of affairs. The entire govt. and health sector was just left to fend for itself without anybody providing any kind of leadership.
The biggest issue that came into visibility during the second wave was scarcity of medical oxygen and till date no state govt. ever admitted that deaths took place because of the shortage of oxygen.
Whereas it was openly reported and telecasted by all main media channels that common people were lining up in front of oxygen plants with desperate pleas to have some oxygen for their loved ones and patients were dying in private/govt. hospitals as they were not getting their regular supplies, but on record nothing happened.
Among others the two states immediately going to elections are Punjab and Uttar-Pradesh and both are most important States in terms of their contributions to the country. I am intrigued by the moral standards of the politicians of Punjab and being a Punjabi I want them to follow the highest ethical standards in public life. But the happenings of the last few years force me to think in another way.
Punjab witnessed some of the horrific public tragedies in recent years i.e. hundreds lost their precious lives in a man-made railway mishap in Amritsar and then equal no. of innocent people die in Tarn taran hooch tragedy. A lot was said publicly but no heads ever rolled. The things never stopped here as the State faced the corona pandemic.
There was a complete lock-down in the country to stop the spread of the deadly virus and Punjab was not the exception. But as the things started to get under control, the Punjab Govt. was too eager to open up the State’s liquor shops even ahead of any other essential commodities. This clearly indicated the falling moral standards of our polity and politicians.
Three factories were unearthed manufacturing spurious liquor in Punjab which was perceived to be owned by elected representatives of ruling dispensation. Can these illicit liquor factories run without official patronage is a million dollar question. Similar response has been to the drug menace which the Government had promised to wipe out in 4 weeks.
According to a recent news report published in a leading national daily, after no action for nearly 4 years , now a new "100 days Big Bang Program" is planned for the govt. success in the war on drugs. Instead of catching the BIG FISH responsible for selling drugs, the villages and wards will be declared drug free in a cosmetic exercise just as the schools were declared upgraded to SMART SCHOOLS in the recent past.
As per the quarterly report on anti drug campaign by June end, out of 16177 villages and wards, only 3967 are drug free, translating into just 24.6%.
The situation in Amritsar is the gravest where none of the 110 locations are drug free followed by Hoshiarpur with 2.4 %( 46 out of 1916) and Ferozpur at 3.06 %( 25 out of 816).The ruling class has become so morally corrupt that even after news reports of children as young as 14 & 12 years old dying of drug overdose no concrete steps have been undertaken to stem the rot.
Another common happening showing falling moral standards relates to party hopping before elections. All ideologies and morals are thrown into the air for petty political considerations and selfish gains. Even the followers were not sure which party their candidate will join before the elections and how they will face the people.
People have delegated the responsibility of development to their local representatives via their votes but there has been no accountability on parts of our elected representatives. Before the last State elections the biggest political issues related to drugs and law & order and the ruling party at that time termed the propaganda about these issues as a political campaign to defame them and the State as a whole.
Now in 2021 with their roles reversed, the same thing is happening again but no one resolved these two crucial issues. Many Commissions, SITs and other enquiry committees have already submitted their reports to high courts, but the state judiciary is sitting on those sealed reports.
The common man of the State has lost faith in these SITs. Every SHO and other police officials know about the criminals, the drug-peddlers and other anti-social elements in their respective areas. But nothing happens and huge amounts of money change hands every-day to facilitate their illicit activities.
Even the bench of Justice H.S.Madan of Punjab & Haryana High court has observed in his recent judgment that politician -smuggler nexus is very difficult to break as they complement each other.
The State Govt. quickly gave its cabinet Minister looking after SC/BC scholarships a clean chit even though its own IAS Officer indicted many wrong-doings in the disbursal of Central grants especially to fraud colleges and fake admissions.
The temple of democracy is the State Legislative Assembly and the constitution mandates that the house has to meet in every six months so that the govt. can conduct the public business and discuss issues of public concern and make laws in accordance to that.
This entire process has been reduced to a sham where one or two day sessions are conducted merely to fulfill constitutional obligations and nothing is discussed.
The mockery of the constitution is further aggravated as certain MLAs switched political affiliations in the last five years, joined new political parties and then re-joined their original parties with the assembly speaker doing nothing about all these happenings. Probably this has happened for the first time in any State in India, where no anti-defection law was enforced and their memberships of assembly were nullified even though some of them fought elections on the tickets of other parties during parliamentary elections of 2019.
Something new is happening in Punjab politics as the senior-most ministers have shown complete lack of faith in their Chief-minister and openly accused him of in-cohorts with the main opposition party.
Even the general perception of the people at large coincides with their opinion. To divert the attention of the people from real and burning issues, each political party is busy blaming each other responsible for the ills of the state and being in sync with others.
Most of them are busy making false and ambitious political promises to out-do each other, without any clear roadmap for their implementation. Politics have clearly become a game of looting and the worst sufferers are the common people.
Very recently a report published in a leading daily talked about the menace of stray dogs and problems being faced by common pedestrians, but the funny part is that the experts advocated people to adjust to behavior of dogs rather than local authorities doing anything about it. This is a really sorry state of affairs in which one is compelled to live.
Who will fix the priorities, where the limited and precious resources of the State will be spent? The State Govt. obviously have no priority for health and education. Money is being spent on non-priority activities which have nothing to take from long-term infrastructure assets.
Every rainy season tore opens cosmetic changes being made and crores spent on it. The tax returns show that each MLA is doubling his income every year and the overall disposable income of the common man is fastly going down.
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