When two top Indian leaders rise above game of politicking, it must give all of India hope that times, and state of affairs, are changing
Most Indians don’t trust calls for investigations by governments when things go wrong. Most probes are designed to meander and trudge, without ever addressing any key concern, seldom delving into root causes, or finding and punishing the truly guilty at the top.
Almost all past investigations into human made tragedies — accidents, riots, corruption — have failed the expectations of ordinary Indian citizens, dragging for years, and ending up absolving most of the likely guilty, or finding an odd low-level scapegoat for superficial punishment. In the end, nobody important is hurt and nothing changes.
But in one of the darkest hours for Gujarat, and India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown that his leadership character is made up of sterner stuff. He made it clear to the officials that he really wants a probe — a true probe, comprehensive, transparent and quick.
Heartbroken families which lost loved ones, the town of Morbi and all Indians would find some solace that justice would be delivered and the guilty ones won’t escape scot-free. A larger hope lingers that maybe this dark mishap would bring in changes in our national policy towards safety.
Stepping up to a human moment, going beyond politics or calculations of elections, PM Modi reached out to the families at the hour of agony, and tried to soothe them. He also put the administration on alert to ensure all concerns of the families are addressed and they don’t face any red tape in their quest for closure.
From another corner of India, we had another rare example of great leadership, matching the statesmanship of Mr Narendra Modi — in the response of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who at a press conference in Telangana refused to fall for the bait of a media query, and bluntly refused to politicise the tragedy.
“It would be disrespectful to those who have lost their lives… and their dignity. Or, the emotions of their families,” said Mr Gandhi, instead of launching into the predictable path of past leaders, who would have been tempted to launch a rhetoric on “failures of the government.”
When two top Indian leaders — Prime Minister Modi and Opposition voice Rahul Gandhi — rise above the usual game of politicking, especially in a state where bitter electoral battle lines are drawn and ready — it must give all of India hope that the times, and state of affairs, are changing.
A strong leader in government who means business and a fair, humane leader from the Opposition who, instead of criticising the government wishes to consider the feelings of the families trying to mourn after a tragedy is the only silver lining in this black incident.
Of course, it is a failure. A total failure of the administration, and of the system that made people pay for their own subsequent demise. Deaths to no purpose. Let India build on the changed political morality, find the reasons for the accident and ensure such an accident never occurs again, and punish the guilty, setting an example.
Let Morbi be the last; never again.