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   On the eve of Independence Day, let us count our blessings... (August 14, 1991)

On the eve of Independence Day, let us count our blessings:

We have a new prime minister, whose main virtue is that he does not project himself. We have a President who is top beholden to the prime minister to the extent of going to Moscow and reading out the prime minister's speech at an official function. We have a Congress party which is thinking in terms of internal democracy. We have a reasonably responsible opposition. We have for the first time in our history, except for the two years of the Janata government, no member of the Nehru-Gandhi family in the government, not

even an Arun Nehru or a Maneka Gandhi.

The emphasis of the government has shifted from international affairs to domestic affairs. And within the country, except for minor exceptions like the immature Madhavrao Scindia, from politics to economics. We have stopped counting votes before announcing policies, at least as far as the farm votes are concerned. We have started making friends abroad, or, if we have not progressed that far, we have stopped making more enemies abroad.

The government has stopped making empty gestures, like the prime minister offering prayers at the Golden Temple, then driving in an open jeep through the streets of Amritsar, or holding elections in Punjab, where it is as impossible to have a fair and feel election as it is in Bihar. And we have stopped negotiating with terrorists.

We have put the bureaucracy in its place. Not by insulting foreign secretaries at press congerences, but by withdrawing all the petty powers that were concentrated in the hands of the bureaucrats and which were being misused by all of them down to the not so humble clerk. And we have put the godmen in their places, no more can they drop in on ministers and act as their advisors on spiritual and administractive matters.

Instead of passing new laws, the government is withdrawing old laws; and instead of adding sections and sub-sections to the existing lawns, we are substracting them. Where five copies of a document had to be submitted, the government is now asking for two, and where two were necessary, none are required now.

We have realised that the world is only interested in nations that are rich and industrious and progressive, and not in nations that have a spiritual past and a cultural heritage. And we know now that one man cannot direct our future and take us into the 21st century, but all the people together can do it and are fully capable of doing it.

Sometimes a country is blessed through what appear at first like acts of adveristy. In the last one year we have been blessed in many such mysterious and un known ways.

 
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