A Depressed State of Affairs

The view is crystallising that doing politics has remained the same as before. And so too is the growing idea that the poor practices of the past have been perpetuated under the new government. Yet, this government was voted in December 2014 on the hope that it would bring to an end past malpractices and embrace an improved way of running the affairs of the country.

People got disillusioned quite soon. The promise of better days to come was simply drowned in a confusion of rash and poor decisions taken. Power went to the head of some of those wielding it. They showed off, destructively. The country’s mood shifted from one of euphoria after the defeat of the Labour-MMM alliance to a more sombre one quite quickly.

It soon came out that some persons close to the regime were taking undue pecuniary advantage of their proximity to the new incumbents of power – a repeat of previous practice. But that was not all. The economic infrastructure was being damaged more while barely any fresh promising project was being undertaken. Repeatedly blaming the previous government in public – as was being done – may be politically good but it had nothing to do with the promised second “economic miracle”.

As if that was not enough, ever newer stories of malpractices associated with certain members of the government kept surfacing on an almost regular basis. Certain ministers showed that they were more apt to bungle up matters than to be leading the way towards the promised new dawn. Wrong decisions were taken that resulted in undermining the effectiveness of public institutions.

No convincing communication was done to change popular focus away from the bad stories which kept swelling up and were conveniently highlighted by part of the press. It was to be expected that these depressing accounts, narrated almost regularly in the media, would somehow get firmly stuck in the mind of the public after some time. The avalanche of criticism against mis-governance by the new government – a good amount of which was justified due to the clumsiness with which some government members were carrying on – has now actually sunk into popular perception.

A growing feeling that the government may, after all, not be able to turn the situation around to its advantage has by now gathered momentum. It is the reason the last budget received a tepid welcome and is by now almost a forgotten page. The weight of past miscalculated actions has overwhelmed any credit the government has earned through its actions.

We stand today on the threshold of a situation of lost opportunities. As if all this was not enough, certain professionals close to members of the government are being challenged for having been also close to shady characters involved in drug dealing. Not only does this cast a long shadow on the profession. It dampens action taken by the authorities so far to tackle the scourges of money laundering, get-rich-quick habits and drug dealing.

The good thing for the government – if one may call it so – in the midst of so much turmoil is that politicians on the opposite side of the fence are also not held in high public esteem. People think all of them are fish of the same kettle who change their tone and language according to circumstances but will do no better. And so, not only is the economy left to itself in the midst of so many gales blowing on the international scene, but people are feeling let down by politics as a whole.

There surely are enough mature persons outside the fold of customary political parties capable of infusing new life into the polity. The question that we must ask is why they have not been willing to jump into the political fray so far. The answer is probably disgust with the way politics has been conducted for a number of years now. The country cannot also wait too long to get out of the backwaters into which it has fallen. Although one could argue that the media has been painting and will continue to paint a picture of poor prospects for the country, highlighting as many bad things as possible with every passing day, the doings of the present government haven’t helped either.

It is in such a situation that the country needs a convincing re-orientation of its future prospects. Normally, governments succeed in infusing the necessary confidence that they will manage to do so, despite conjunctural difficulties. It seems a point has now been reached where the public don’t want to allow themselves to be convinced that the tide will actually turn for the better. The question is: where do we go from this depressed state of affairs if we don’t find sufficient resources from within to overcome the sinking mood in which people are finding themselves day by day?

M.K.

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