Haryana Burns. Who’s next?
Today, as many towns in Haryana burn and I see desperate Facebook pleas for help from people stuck in Rohtak or Panipat, I wonder how things came to this. How is it that one of the prosperous communities in Haryana is so desperate for reservations that they think it is okay to hold the country at ransom? That it is okay to loot ATMs, burn petrol pumps, set fire to shops and houses, block entire canals in a bid to stop the water from reaching Delhi, thereby tightening the noose around the government’s soft neck?
How is it that this behavior is being tolerated? How is it that the Haryana government has already gone down on its knees and promised the protesters that their demands will be met? Why are the mobs being allowed to have their way as Rohtak burns, as per the accounts of people stuck there? By the way, how can their demands be met when we have seen this entire drama play out recently with the previous government promising said quota, only for it to be quashed by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional?
We’ve been told for years that Democracy is this powerful force to take everybody along. But is democracy so powerless that anybody with sufficient muscle strength and the will to destroy public property can hold the state to ransom to get their demands met? And are elected governments so desperate for power that they kneel down easily for fear of losing the votes the next time around?
If this is what democracy is all about, maybe it is time to try a different form of government.
I am the stupid taxpayer who diligently pays all of his taxes. I don’t want the bridges and roads built by my hard-earned money to be destroyed by a mob of unruly people with mischievous intentions. I don’t want such powerless governments that are so amenable to blackmail. I want my taxes back if this is what they are going to be used for.
Of course, knowing Indian politics, one cannot rule out conspiracy theories. That this ‘protest’ has been orchestrated by *cough* anti-national/anti-government forces. Who knows whether the anti-national force is just a boogeyman established by government after government to act as the scapegoat for their lapses? Thankfully, the previous Haryana Chief Minister has appealed to the mobs to stop and is going to sit on a hunger strike in Delhi till this ends. Thank god for such brave souls. It is only a miracle that he got out of Rohtak before the rioting started and amidst all the burning houses, his remained untouched. There is a god, after all.
I am not even starting about the elephant in the room – the policy of reservations. The one single policy that acts as an encouragement for people not willing to slog like the others to achieve higher education or jobs on merit, but get in via the ‘easy’ route. The reason medical students keep writing their entrances unsuccessfully year after year, because half the seats are reserved. The reason thousands of bright, young, students give up and decide to move abroad because our country makes things too hard for them.
Maybe we should introspect whether reservations are really solving the problem they were created for, but I know nothing will happen on that front. Not while communities such as the Jats feel empowered to burn everything in their path to getting that cushy government job the easy way. Not till we tolerate this blackmail and allow destruction of public property. Not till we figure out what to do the next time a community picks up some sticks, a few cans of petrol to burns buses, and decides to get themselves some reservation.
I can just hope that the state and central governments will not allow a precedent to be set. There’s no knowing who will want reservations next, and what price the nation will have to pay.