‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,’ is how Shakespeare described the situation of that country in Hamlet, where treachery, invasion and subterfuge had become the order of the day.
A similar sentiment comes to mind when looking at India these days—a nation currently unstable, thanks to both its ruling and main opposition party being mired in corruption.
For nearly two weeks now, both houses of the country’s Parliament have been in a state of paralysis because the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is insisting on setting up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate the alleged 2G spectrum scam. The government fears the JPC might become a tool for the Opposition to try to use to drag the prime minister’s name into the whole affair, tarnishing the so far clean image of Manmohan Singh.
The ruling alliance meanwhile, led by the Congress Party, argues that with the Public Account’s Committee (PAC), a powerful parliamentary committee, already existing to look into any such ‘irregularities,’ there’s simply no need for a JPC. The party also contends that with the Supreme Court also monitoring the case of the telecoms deal, the demand for another exclusive committee of parliamentarians to investigate the $40 billion scam simply isn't justified.
This call for a look into what many describe as the biggest scam in India’s history might in fact sound credible if the Opposition itself was clean and above board.
However, the BJP is trying to look the other way when it comes to its own government in Karnataka, which seems to be neck deep in corruption. A serious allegation of land scams and illegal mining deals has been leveled against BJP Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa. Similar allegations of corruption are also being hurled against the BJP government in the state of Uttarakhand.
Furthermore, when the party was in power in New Delhi between 1999 and 2004, it refused to set up a JPC to probe the bribe-on-camera scandal involving its own president at the time and a parliamentarian.
With mainstream political parties looking increasingly less credible, it's become harder for Indians to trust any political party. A sense of cynicism is gripping even those of us who still try to come to a judgement on issues on a case-by-case basis.
There’s can be no doubt that there’s something rotten in the state of India today. The question now is what can be done before it further diminishes the people’s trust in democracy and its institutions.