Independence Day is always a day of much celebration and some introspection, but August 15, 2013 will be different. It will be a day that will call for much introspection and little celebration, because unlike the Independence Days of the past, this year, Indians have so much to worry about on every front, be it national security and the intrusion of the Chinese and Pakistanis across the border, the crass irresponsibility of the UPA government in managing the affairs of the country, mounting cases of corruption and  endless scandals covering every major deal, the gloomy economic situation, the precipitous fall of the Indian Rupee, agitations and violence in several parts of the country following the sudden rash of demands for formation of new states, the completely dysfunctional parliament and the crass behaviour of the political class, which neither wants transparency not accountability in the political sphere.
Never before has the country been plagued by so many problems all at once. The developments along the border are indeed worrying not because the Chinese have once again started flexing their muscles, which was in any case expected, but because of the pusillanimity of the UPA government. Indians were shocked to note that the union government first hid the fact that the Chinese were intruding into our territory and thereafter, when there was a hue and cry, pretended to reach a settlement, which actually meant withdrawing our troops from our own territory. Emboldened by our weak-kneed policy towards China, even Pakistan has begun flexing its muscles. The recent killing of five of our soldiers by the Pakistani Army is an example of how that country has begun to look upon us, thanks to the lack of resolve among those who head the present government. But, what is truly depressed the citizens is the repeated assertion of key persons in the union government that this incident should not disrupt the peace process and the proposed meeting between the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers next month.
These developments show that the UPA government lacks the resolve to protect India’s national interest and is even willing to barter away the morale of our armed forces while the chasing the chimera of peace with Pakistan and China. Eventually, at some stage, the UPA will pay the price electorally for its gutless attitude towards these belligerent neighbours, but many Indians worry as to whether the damage done by Mr.Manmohan Singh will be so much that it will be difficult for a future government to effect any repair.
Another feature that is causing all round gloom is the monstrous effect of corruption and the unwillingness of those in power to punish the wrong-doers. The Commonwealth Games Scam, the 2G Scam and the Coalgate Scam have all kept an indelible black mark on the conduct of the UPA regime and the leadership of the Congress Party. The thorough probe of all these scams by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the subsequent investigations ordered by the Supreme Court have clearly established the culpability of the Prime Minister,s Office in many of the suspicious decisions taken by ministers and other minions and has taken the sheen of the Prime Minister’s image. He is no longer the Mr.Clean that we presumed he was ten years ago. In any case, Mr.Manmohan Singh stood totally compromised when he allowed Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi’s friend, Ottavio Quattorocchi to walk away with the U.S $ 7.3 Million that he illegally secured from Bofors when we bought field guns for our army in 1986. Singh asked the U.K government to defreeze the bank account in which Quattrocchi held this money. The prime minister also got the CBI to withdraw the bribery case against Quattrocchi.
But the story of corruption and scandalous behaviour of the Congress-led government is not over yet. On the eve of our Independence Day we have the latest CAG Report exposing the scandalous manner in which this government struck the Rs 3600 crores deal to buy helicopters from AugustaWestland. The government allowed this company to conduct field trials of the helicopters meant for our prime minister and president to be conducted outside our country. Also, shockingly, as the actual helicopters to be sold to us were still under development, the field trials did not pertain to these specific machines. The CAG also found that the specifications were drawn up in such a way that eventually there was only one vendor, Augusta Westland. Finally, the auditors have found that there was no real basis for the price paid for these helicopters. Already Italy is prosecuting two senior officials of this company for fraudulent transactions in the Indian deal, so the CAG report has come as no surprise. The question now is whether an independent investigation will ensue. Another huge scandal on Independence Day eve is the one pertaining to the equally scandalous land deals of Robert Vadra, Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, who has acquired wealth running into hundreds of crores within a few years. This too warrants a full-fledged independent court-monitored probe if truth is to come out.    
If all this took away much of the sheen that Mr.Manmohan Singh had before he entered office, the disastrous economic situation faced by the country had damaged another aspect of his image – that of him being a great economist. Whatever happened to his economic strategies? The sliding Rupee, the rising budget deficit, high inflation and poor performance of the economy in many sectors including manufacturing has resulted in much despondency on the economic front and these developments have raised serious doubts about the competence of Mr.Manmohan Singh and Mr.Chidambaram to manage the nation’s economic situation.    
The next big problem is the rash of agitations that have begun in various parts of the country in support of the demand for new states. This has happened because of the manner in which the UPA government and the Congress Party has handled the Telengana issue keeping in mind its ad-hoc political gains. The Manmohan Singh government is not able to contain the fires that it has aroused as a result.
Finally, a word about the political class. The two Houses of Parliament and many of our state legislative assemblies have become dysfunctional. Even sitting results in shouting matches and at times, boxing bouts. As a result, there is complete paralysis of legislative chambers and even lawlessness. Added to this is the stiff opposition of politicians to transparency and accountability in the conduct of political parties. In recent weeks, the Central Information Commission has ordered the six national parties to maintain proper accounts and show the list of donors. This is troubling all the parties and they have ganged up to stall the CIC’s order. Similarly, all political parties have ganged up to undo the Supreme Court;s judgement on criminal-politicians. The court has said that any person convicted for two years or more in a serious offence by a court of law will be barred from contesting elections, even if he or she has appealed against this court order. This was a major step taken by the apex court to keep criminals out of our legislative chambers, but strangely all parties have joined together to undo this judgement. They want the government to appeal against this judgement and also amend the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951. They have also once again begun attacking the judiciary. All this has left ordinary citizens most distressed. They has begun to feel that democracy is failing them. Where do we go from here?