By the time this magazine gets printed and reaches the readers, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will almost be over and everyone will be looking forward to the results, to be published on May 23. The campaigning during the last one month has been really intense and unfortunately, the quality of the political communication has reached a new low.
The party leaders have openly accused each other as thieves; and the attacks have been mostly personal. In their eagerness to reach to the groundlings, they have often adopted a language which does not befit their positions in life. That they stooped so low reveals their desperation. Sometimes the rancor has been so loud that the common man wondered whether the would-be legislators represented the people or whether they were actually fighting the elections to settle scores.
After the elections however the tempers would die down and a new government, of whatever hue or combinations, will take up the reigns of the country. But in their eagerness to malign each other and in the game of one-upmanship, the politicians have made at least three major damages to the system, which will take time to recover, if at all there is any reparation. First, a number of global surveys have expressed concern over the generation of misinformation especially during the Indian elections. The volume exceeds anything witnessed anywhere in the world. The more sophisticated the election campaign has become, the deadlier has been the nature of misinformation. It is no point accusing the IT cell of a single party of generating apparently believable lies; every political party has committed the sin. Pictures have been manipulated; sound bites have been edited to create mischief. For lack of an organised system of detecting fake news, the media has lost its credibility. To get back the people’s faith, the media will have a hard time in future.
The second deadly sin has been the tampering of statistics. To make the people believe that the country’s economy has progressed, the calculations ofGDPhave been tampered with. Statistics on employment was suppressed, leading to several resignations of statisticians involved in the work. Manipulation of numbers was suspected for some time now; but during the election, everything came to the surface. The World Bank and other institutions have expressed concern. Here again, the loss of credibility of Indian statistics can have far-reaching consequences regarding India’s position in global trade and economy.
Certain institutions in the country should be allowed to operate autonomously. Tampering with their administration can be a disaster. One such institution is the Supreme Court. Timings of the harassment of the Chief Justice of India have raised doubts about CJI not falling in line with ruling party’s election needs. Some of the judgments have gone against them. If the rumours are true, the only hope of a fair deal for the common man in a politically unfair and iniquitous world would be dashed to pieces.
Within a few days we will know who will govern the country for the next five years. The frayed tempers will die down and we will find shortly that in the parliament these elected members who were so furiously accusing each other now hugging one another. But what remains a matter of concern is that in the process of the election build-up, some permanent damage have been done to the system. This wasn't the case in previous elections.