WELCOME, 2014. In all probability, this is going to be a landmark year in India’s history. There will be a good deal of churning this year: Who will be the new Prime Minister of India? Which party will form the government? Will it be a hung parlia- ment? Who will be the new Cabinet Secretary of India? How will the economy shape up? Is young India in a mood to transform the face of Indian politics? No one had been able to gauge the extent of the anger of the common man till the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Will the AAP be able to sustain the momentum and become the agent of change for India? The mist will clear in 2014.
What is happening in the ruling Congress party? gfiles’ cover story debates this. It states that if Rahul Gandhi is unable to muster votes and come up as a veritable cheerleader, then it is certain he will be out of the game for the next five years. The Congress leadership is completely disconnected from the common man. Voter mindset has altered—voters now desire that their leader should be among them, to be available as and when they need him. But Congress leaders behave like monarchs; the common man cannot find any commonality with them. As we analyse the emerging parliamentary scenario of 2014, the next Prime Minister will be decided by more than 200 Members of Parliament who will be neither from the Congress nor the BJP. It is going to be a fractured mandate and it will be interesting to see how the BJP is able to form the government or how the Congress allows others to form the government as it has done in Delhi.
Meanwhile, TN Pandey, former Chairman of CBDT, angrily points out in his article, ‘Soft on tax evaders’, that tax economists and policymakers the world over discourage amnesty. When 10 lakh registered taxpayers are not discharging their obligations, they need to be dealt with sternly—not cajoled by being pro- vided immunity from interest, penalty and prosecution. MG Devasahayam is con- cerned about Haryana, about the Gurgaon conundrum orchestrated by Bhupinder Singh Hooda and about the implications of a nuclear power plant at Fatehabad. He writes, “Since the Bhakra Water Sharing Agreement mandates that Bhakra water can only be used for irrigation and generation of hydel power, the Bhakra- Beas Management Board cannot give water for the nuclear plant.” In a related story discussing the role of the AERB, Devender Singh states, “There is no system in place for monitoring the expiry of authorisations and their renewals with instances of protracted delays for periods as long as 24 years. Alarmingly, 70 out of 135 Gamma Chamber units continue to function without valid authorisations.”
Our Roving Editor, Niranjan Desai, comments on the Devyani Khobragade incident, “The government must insist on a reciprocal level playing field with the Americans on the question of diplomatic privileges and immunities, without any exception of any kind.” Amitabh Thakur carries forward his analysis of the bureaucracy: “They can become a political entity in their own right, not exact- ly dependent on various high commands, in case they definitely and strongly decide upon that and go religiously, meticulously and sincerely on that route.” Heartwarmingly, Kejriwal was a bureaucrat, not a politician, who has become the voice of the common man. In the new year, let us make a commitment that the communication channels of all the officers will be open for the common man. For, if you don’t open them now then the aam aadmi, who pays for everything one owns, will force open the door and raise the voice of pain and anger.