What's common to every election manifesto, every political speech, every media interview with a neta, every excuse for a scandal? The incessant use of the word "Development". It's not necessarily a bad thing, but while the Yeddys of the world go about turning Bangalores into Singapores and Mumbais into Shanghais, I feel there are two counterforces that are absolutely necessary to keep it sane; environmental activism and voices speaking for social justice.
While the media was filling in as a bumbling champion for social justice, I feel that environment had long been ignored. Minister for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, I thought, was filling that gap fairly well. I blogged about him not so long ago, expressing my guarded appreciation. He seemed like a smart, erudite man, capable of dealing with ethical ambiguities, so crucial a skill in his role. He also seemed to do it all without the fanfare that's associated with someone like Shashi Tharoor. Most importantly, by all accounts, he seemed to assign the highest priority to transparency and accountability.
It wasn't a surprise that he was booted out his ministry yesterday for he had ruffled too many feathers. The surprise was that the PM's reason for the reshuffle was to "signal accountability". So it's goodbye to good hope for now. There will not be any twitter campaigns. There won't be candle light vigils. There definitely won't be media outrage. Sometimes I do wish Jairam Ramesh had operated like Shashi Tharoor too.