It may sound a bit churlish but then most of us at times do agree with José Maria de Eça de Queiroz  ’Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently and all for the same reason.’ More so when they have a memory lapse forgetting that ‘in a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme’-Aristotle. Way back in 1990 the transformation of Hyderabad was visible and vociferously lauded world over. Besides changeover to a high-tech city the roads became wider and cleaner, the buildings grew taller with all modern facilities and so on. Soon the elections were held and a changeover of political fortune emerged. To be honest and humble, I had predicted this outcome and mentioned it to my friends; the outlying areas and the villages were given short shrift at the expense of modernity and urban progress  and it is in these areas the majority poor struggled for existence! And in the recent elections the poor spoke louder!

In the present context it may be not be prudent to agree with Plato when he expolutes  that ‘there  will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.’  The breathing space for philosophers has shrunk exponentially and for them to become rulers or even administrators  is well nigh impossible.

On the contrary we now have a breed of adventurists for whom . political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. They forget that, ‘genocide is not just a murderous madness; it is, more deeply, a politics that promises a utopia beyond politics; one people, one land, one truth, the end of difference. Since genocide is a form of political utopia, it remains an enduring temptation in any multiethnic and multicultural society in crisis -’ Michael Ignatieff.  A strong under current of this temptation is flowing amongst the ruling elite who fail to recognize that such misadventures for their short term and purely temporary gains have failed in the past and it is  ultimately the poor masses who pay the price; however, the silver lining is that the majority having experienced and seen through this Machiavellian exposition are prepared to give befitting response by exercising their democratic rights.

We certainly need to maintain and enhance our economic progress so that the Nation prospers and flourishes. However we do need to tread carefully and pay heed to the lessons from the developed nations. Way back in 1879 Henry George, a social theorist and economist, in his widely  read book , Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth, had written on this burning issue; the relevancy of his observations remain for us to examine them presently; an interesting excerpt brings out the obvious reality which we face now and in future;

‘Take now… some hard-headed business man, who has no theories, but knows how to make money. Say to him: “Here is a little village; in ten years it will be a great city—in ten years the railroad will have taken the place of the stage coach, the electric light of the candle; it will abound with all the machinery and improvements that so enormously multiply the effective power of labor.”  Will in ten years, interest be any higher? He will tell you, “No!”  Will the wages of the common labor be any higher…? He will tell you, “No the wages of common labor will not be any higher..”  What, then, will be higher? “Rent, the value of land. Go, get yourself a piece of ground, and hold possession. And  under such circumstances, you need do nothing more. You may sit down and smoke your pipe; and without doing one stroke of work, without adding one iota of wealth to the community, in ten years you will be rich! In the new city you may have a luxurious mansion, but among its public buildings will be  almshouses.”

Do we further arbitrarily increase  the density of the population on our scarce land in the name of progress and convert our millionaires to billionaires with marginal help to the masses? Will it lead to a situation where ” The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists”- George Orwell

You may have the answers, I am no soothsayer!