This Independence Day, the question looms large: Have we lost more than what we have gained? Price rise, unbridled crime, rampant corruption, safety concerns related with women and elderly, unemployment are some of the issues that the nation still faces even 66 years after independence.
As part of the fourth pillar of democracy, Zee Media Corporation, in line with its obligation, has come up with a remarkable and a unique series dealing with these pertinent issues and examining their impact on the common man. The programme will help people interact and seek answers from those who matter and are at the helm of affairs.
In the first episode of Bharat Bhagya Vidhata, Zee News editor Sudhir Chaudhary raised all these issues along with Bollywood actor Ashutosh Rana, who co-anchored the inaugural episode.
On the purpose of the initiative, Sudhir Chaudhary said the series aimed at redefining the political agenda of the country with an intention to transform democracy. "We want to change the way people think about politics and governance. Our aim is to help people understand the definition of good governance."
Thirteen issues have been identified which would be discussed on the show. The introductory episode aims at "educating people about the core issues and guide them to achieve the target, and this is why we are calling it a makeover of democracy".
Ashutosh Rana, who has proved his prowess as an actor, was more than glad to be a part of the show. "I think of myself as a common man and wanted to take such issues to the people sitting at the power centre in a unique way, so that the solutions which come up are also one of their own kind," said Rana, while replying to a query on why he opted to anchor such a programme.
Hailing Zee Media for its efforts to take stock of things as they stand today, Rana said: "I liked the concept of Zee News very much as it is taking the initiative to do a complete makeover of this country. In a democracy, it’s not the ‘netas’ who decide the fate of the people, but the citizens. We elect the government for solutions to our problems but remain dissatisfied, and the way Zee News is trying to highlight such issues is really commendable.”
To gauge the mood of the nation and provide answers, Union Water Minister Harish Rawat, BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi, former Cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian, Mahatma Gandhi`s great grandson Tushar Gandhi and legendary athlete, Milkha Singh, were present on the show.
The first issue focused on the deteriorating law and order situation in the country. Chaudhary asked Rawat about the steps being taken by the government to improve the security of the people. Calling the common man’s security a "grave issue", the Congress leader mentioned that the government has amended a number of laws so that they can deal with such cases aptly. He further emphasised on improved coordination between the states and Centre while dealing with terror-related issues.
When Rana asked why government representatives are given Z+ security and why the current laws are not implemented efficiently, Rawat defended that some parliamentarians opt for the security cover as they consider it a status symbol.
Launching a counter-attack on the Centre-state coordination issue, BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi referred to the Ishrat Jehan fake encounter case saying: “The government interferes in some cases like these to gain political mileage.”
Former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian added that security is a fundamental right, but blamed the lackadaisical attitude of both the Central and state governments for poor security across the country. “Disparity has been on the rise in this nation which has further resulted in a surge in internal security problems like Naxalism," Subramanian said, adding that non-implementation of police reforms is another issue.
Rising prices was another concern that was deliberated upon. The almost helpless Rawat acknowledged a rise in disparity. He blamed global factors for rising prices and advocated the Food Security Bill to deal with the issue. However, Subramanian countered by describing the Food Security Bill as a disastrous policy.
Listing recent scams like VVIP chopper scam, 2G spectrum allocation, CWG, coal blocks allocation and recruitment in Railways, Chaudhary asked Rawat the reason for the government`s failure in checking corruption. Rawat, on his part, referred to the introduction of Right to Information Act as an effort made by the government in this regard.
The panelists further discussed the problems being faced by the youth of this nation. Popular radio jockeys Anant and Saurabh, who host a special programme on Zee News with a funny take on latest news developments, also weighed upon the issue. While Anant said that the youth were well-informed and came out on the streets to demand instant answers to various issues, Saurabh emphasized that the youth actually want change.
Tushar Gandhi said if Mahatma Gandhi was alive, he would have been disappointed with the present situation of the country. Criticising the youth for their self-centered attitude, Gandhi said there are many issues which would need a revolution to resolve.
Those present also discussed issues related to the health sector. Caste discrimination also featured among the problems that were debated upon. While Rana said caste discrimination is dividing the country, Gandhi pinned the blame on the political number-game. He said politicians divide people and field candidates according to castes. He also said that the onus to "break the caste jinx lies more on people than politicians".
When will people be able to get advantage of quality education was another issue pondered over on the show. On income inequality, Gandhi felt that such a trend is a threat to the unity of the country.
When Sudhir Chaudhary asked if government institutions are accessible to public, Gandhi rightly pointed out that the population proportion to doctors or government institutions like AIIMS, IITs and IIMs is too wide.
Other issues which were discussed on the show include degradation of social norms, good governance, duty of the Opposition party, and lack of basic amenities like electricity, road and water.
(The show `Mood of India` goes on air on Zee Media Channels at 8.30 pm on 15th August. Bharat Bhagya Vidhata, the series starts airing its regular programming from Monday, 19th of August on Zee News.)