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Given the huge crowds Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s janata darbar drew, and the manner in which roads had to be cordoned off to accommodate them, it’s obvious the capital’s citizenry continues to be very angry. The question is whether the fire will spread to other parts of the country. If credit-rating agency Crisil’s latest projections are anything to go by, and 12 million people will have to go and seek employment in agriculture—as industry and services can’t absorb them—over the next five years, chances are the anger will spread, indeed, it already has.
It’s not as if those who have jobs are less angry and those in Delhi, last Saturday, probably had other problems on their mind as well like the plethora of scams, or excessive electricity and water bills—this columnist has unsuccessfully been battling a R65,000 water bill for a few months now. If the 2G-type scams aren’t bad enough, the R1-1.25 lakh crore annual increase in dodgy assets—NPAs plus restructured—of banks are seen as yet another sign of private skulduggery. Indeed, when columnists describe as anarchic Kejriwal’s decision to waive off dues of those who have not paid their electricity bills since he began his civil disobedience movement—there appears to be some re-think on this by the chief minister—this is seen as hypocrisy; when the Congress waived off R70,000 crore of farm loans, critics justifiably ask, wasn’t that anarchic? In fact, if Kejriwal sticks to his decision, he will pay the dues from the state’s budget while the agriculture dues were written off by PSU banks.
Much of the anger looks justifiable, more so when you look at the way the lal battis, the palatial bungalows and the gun-toting in-your-face security separate the ruled from the rulers, but there is another truth that needs to be kept in mind. Though this risks the likelihood of being seen as condoning corruption, the larger point is that corruption can be tackled only through greater reforms, though it may seem a lot more satisfying, even patriotic, to be slashing away at corruption in the manner Kejriwal is.
Take the airports, a subject in the news since the new T2 terminal in Mumbai has just been inaugurated. When it was inaugurated some years ago, Delhi’s T3, the equivalent of Mumbai’s T2, was in the news for a different reason. Though the GMR Group had promised to pay Airports Authority of India (AAI) 46% of