The 'New Indian Express' in its editorial comment of July 19,2007 refers to the Presidential poll campaign of July, 2007 as marked by unprecedented acrimony witnessed in no earlier election for that office. The nomination of UPA candidate Prathbha Patil led to media exposure of the illegal and criminal activities indulged in by her close relatives and in which her connivance is difficult to disprove. There may be exaggerations but most of the details revealed by Indian Express and other print and visual media will stand the test of scrutiny. The Congress and UPA constituents remain silent about the blemished record of their candidate and Indian Express cautions that Prathiba's elevation to the highest office of the country will not lead to allegations being discarded on that count alone . It's reason, the editorial says, is because what is being demonstrated as the temper of these times is 'that the relationship between the people and power, or the people and their institutions is changing in dramatic ways.... The change is not all due to coming of new technologies and wider access to them. The new ways of seeing have also to do with a waning of deference and the establishment of a more intimate -- and a more irreverent -- equation with our institutions'.
This is a radical, even revolutionary departure from time and tradition worn practices. Indians always genuflect before authority; political,hierarchichal, social, religious or cultural. They seldom dare to challenge individuals or institutions which demand their implicit obedience. .One reason for this, pointed out by Dr.B.R. Ambedkar in many of his writings, is that our society has evolved in ways which show scant regard for the individual, for his rights and his autonomy. The individual was destined to fit into a collective unit, be it of the village or joint family or caste or occupation. The transformation, placing the individual at the centre, has been slow in arriving but is now an inevitability from which there is no return. In India, social change doesn't come in the Western manner through revolutions that shake the earth but at snail's pace,unfolding so slowly, one never knows it is there. Could this be because our concept of Time is different, not the Western linear time, advancing irreversibly in a straight line and against which man races but a cyclical movement where everything repeats itself?
The signs of the current change could be discerned by any one who read V.S. Naipaul's 'India - A Million Mutinies Now'(1990), which graphically pointed out new trends being initialized by individuals in this land of continental proportions and now acquiring a momentum and strength of their own that cannot be supressed. The individual, transcending caste,religion,language,gender,position is beginning to assert his self. In this assertion the awe for persons in power will decline. His Excellency, The President of India will become Mr.President of the Americans. Mr. Prime Minister will have to rise from his Honourable seat and get ready to be questioned by the commoner.