Chronicles foretold of our exciting times - Hindustan Times

Chronicles foretold of our exciting times

Dec 28, 2023 10:13 PM IST

Lessons learned from the turbulence of 2023, to engage with a no less chaotic 2024

As a turbulent year draws to a close, and a potentially more chaotic period lies ahead, it’s time for an annual year-end prayer for a better India and the world in 2024 (with due apologies to Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore).

Towards an India where Neeraj Chopra's golden glory spawns many champions of the future(PTI) PREMIUM
Towards an India where Neeraj Chopra's golden glory spawns many champions of the future(PTI)

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. Where the world’s largest democracy holds general elections that are truly free and fair. Where the Election Commission steps up to restore the legacy of a TN Seshan-like formidable figure by rediscovering its spine and reputation as a neutral umpire. Where it cannot be that electronic voting machines are tampered with when you lose an election, but are seen to work perfectly fine when you win.

Where political parties conduct a competitive election campaign without resorting to narrow appeals to caste and religion. Where any rabble-rousing attempts to spread enmity and disharmony between communities are fiercely resisted. Where candidates are elected on merit not lineage, where family surnames don’t matter but character certainly does. Where electoral bonds and money power do not skew the political battlefield in favour of those with greater access to State power and resources. Where whoever wins the election works to win the hearts of those who didn’t vote for them and not just appeal to those who did.

Where enforcement agencies are not weaponised to become agents of the ruling party against their rivals. Where the ED will act with the same vigour in all states irrespective of which party is in power in them. Where it cannot be that politicians in the Opposition are investigated but the cases mysteriously disappear when they switch sides.

Where the Supreme Court walks the talk on civil liberties and constitutional rights. Where bail not jail is the mantra of the judicial system and accused persons aren’t kept languishing in prisons for years without trial. Where politically sensitive cases are adjudicated without any bias or pressure. Where principles of natural justice must apply to every citizen and not just the powerful and influential.

Where a Ram temple in Ayodhya doesn’t become a symbol of political and religious supremacy that ends up polarising communities instead of building bridges between them. Where an ethnic conflict in Manipur isn’t allowed to divide a state and its people. Where the Meiteis and the Kukis embrace each other with empathy and rekindle the spirit of a shared Manipuri identity. Where elections are held and statehood restored to Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest. Where a truth and reconciliation commission restores confidence in Kashmiri Muslims and Pandits so that past scars can heal.

Where Parliament doesn’t become dysfunctional because of a complete breakdown in trust between the government and the Opposition. Where mass suspensions are avoided, and where entering the well of the House with placards is discouraged. Where crucial Bills are passed only after detailed discussion. Where a big parliamentary majority doesn’t breed arrogance or hostility.

Where the scope of caste-based reservations is not expanded in a manner that only widens fault lines in society. Where paper leaks in recruitment exams do not destroy the dreams and aspirations of millions of young job-seekers. Where tough visible action is taken against exam mafias across states. Where the focus is not on doling out more government jobs but on incentivising the private sector to scale up its job-creation potential. Where national assets are not handed over to favoured individuals to build monopolies but are auctioned through transparent bids. Where it must not be that the wealth of the top one percent rises exponentially as income inequalities keep widening.

Where political parties don’t bankrupt state exchequers by making poll guarantees that can’t be kept. Where one party’s revdi or freebie doesn’t become another party’s welfare project. Where investing in quality health and education facilities takes priority over building more statues and memorials. Where India has at least half a dozen universities in the world’s top 100 instead of not having even a single one. Where we can’t claim to be green warriors at climate summits but allow the massive ecological destruction of the treasured Himalayan region.

Where women’s empowerment is not just a slogan but a commitment. Where India surely has more than just one woman chief minister across 29 states. Where an MP accused of sexual harassment is made to step aside pending investigation. Where it should not need Olympic wrestlers to hit the street for their voices to be heard.

Where a terror attack in Israel doesn’t justify the annihilation of a people and a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. Where retaliatory bombings are not in brazen violation of international laws. Where the life of an innocent Palestinian child must matter just as much as that of an Israeli. Where India hosting the G20 summit is to be celebrated, but where of greater relevance is to demonstrate moral courage if we aspire for true leadership of the Global South.

Where instead of obsessing with which cricketer got how much money in an IPL auction, we find out how much the cricket board is investing in junior cricket across the country. Where greater importance is given to our Olympic athletes and their achievements. Where we must aim to win more medals in Paris than ever before at an Olympic Games. Where Neeraj Chopra’s golden glory spawns many champions of the future.

Into that heaven of an “Amrit kaal” freedom let my country awake.

Post-script: And finally, a word for media friends, especially in television, ahead of this big election year. Where we ensure a level playing field between parties as neither cheerleaders nor antagonists but as what we are meant to be: Chroniclers of exciting times.

Rajdeep Sardesai is a senior journalist and author. The views expressed are personal

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