I shall begin by quoting Churchill and also end with him.
India is not a geographical reality anymore than as Churchill had observed,’the equator is’. In short India is what every Indian would make of a concept of union of certain states. Of course historically is a reality since we won freedom ‘at midnight’ in 1947 and subsequently we passed the Constitution by an act of Parliament into law. The Constitution is a visible proof of the will of people and it enshrines the union of all citizens; as such an union would expect every Indian to preserve it.
But how did we celebrate it for the past 61 years?
There has been without let up every community playing a communal card to serve its narrow ends. No cabinet was workable without giving adequate representation to the communities that considered themselves a power unto themselves. Of course Government passed some laws to give hitherto untouchables representation. We have even a Chief Minister who is a Dalit and what does she do? She shows she has indeed ‘arrived’ by spending crores of the public Exchequer for elevating herself in public memory. We have Taj Mahal built by a Mughal emperor to perpetuate his eternal sorrow for his queen and was she moved by such archetypal emotions as love and bereavement? Ms. Mayawati knows she would not be missed by the end of her term in office. Naturally she has safeguarded the lapse of public memory by the powers bestowed on her. The charter of Constitution means many things to many and to the ilk of Ms. Mayawati it is a license to indulge in the worst excesses of vanity.
The other day I read a news item that a DSP who is in charge of her security detail stooped himself to wipe her sandals. Remarkable to see officers in India who has completely effaced their dignity to this level. Having seen the manner politicians bend backwards to please narrow vested interests and represent them I am immune to such abject abasement. Constitution means securing power and some are willing to pander to it totally!
So we have a Constitution but who I wonder has ever read it with care as to understand its intent? 28 percent of MPs as the CVC PJ Thomas claimed the other day, are criminally charge-sheeted. Of course he has, as implied in his words, been under a cloud and a charge-sheet has been served on him. How come the Center has let him to be Chief Vigilance Commissioner? The Caesar put away his wife on the principle ‘Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.’ Julius Caesar as we know ‘was wife to everyman and husband to every woman.’ But then Romans loved their Caesars to be above every rule including moral laws. A Caesar can flout all laws of middle class decency but in the modern India even Chief Vigilance Commissioner ought to be clean, absolutely. Anything less would be like taking the millions of Indians for granted. The elected representative does not think of himself bound to be a citizen, laying the highest example in honor of his position. It is in a way showing his courtesy to the people he is called to serve. Whatever may be their shortcomings both Morarji Desai and Sardar Patel had rectitude and courage of their convictions. The latter even forbade his sons from wheeling and dealing from his official residence. The iron man didn’t even want a smell of suspicion cling to him. Instead we have politicians extending both arms to shield those who are criminals. Politicians who are partial to the lawless and ‘tainted’ individuals with a view to votes and advancement in their political career are laying ground for every sort of mischief possible. They even condone ‘contributions’ as means to secure votes. It is thus how all good intentions are slowly eroded. Mr. PJ Thomas as an individual forgets himself that he with a criminal charge against him he cannot be an arbiter, and the Cabinet pretends everything will turn out all right if no one makes a fuss about it. This is how citizen and his elected representatives govern the nation, with their minds not fully engaged.
From that stirring speech from the ramparts of Delhi Jawaharlal Nehru spoke of a tryst with destiny.’ Then came a license Raj as a sop to some business houses. Nehruvian model was not homespun like Khadi but from ‘socialism’ that he imbibed in his school days in England. If our national life is blighted by missed opportunites and puerile ideals of our leaders what have we done to counter them? Those who toadied upto the British and stirred the base passions as to religion and community, they now openly pass for the voice of ‘moral order!’
Is it to be wondered then that we are ‘according to Transparency International, the world’s 87th most corrupt nation with an integrity score of 3.3? ‘
If we cannot live upto the highest ideals that we swear by we must not wonder why we have criminals laying our laws and speak platitudes. Our spiritual fathers were not living in the best of times but their highest standards set for themselves came out inspite of the worst excesses of their times. Mahatma Gandhi didn’t ape the British in order to become the father of the nation. Living as he did among conflicts his ideals connected with a great soul of ancient times. Gautama Buddha didn’t live when non-violence was the norm. But his spiritual strength to find a Golden Mean made millions of men in Asia find a standard to live by. Paradoxically India is his birthplace and we allow violence as a matter of course. If one group will right the past wrongs by destroying an old archaeological landmark those who were in power pretended as though did not see it.
If the Center cannot ensure religion to be kept in its place our secular claims are suspect and of little worth. If our leaders do not have courage of their opinions how can the Constitution be held up as a venerable article?
Here is a mail received this morning from one of my friends:
Sir Winston Churchill argument against granting india / Pakistan Independence
“Power will go to rascals, rogues, freebooters. . . .
All leaders will be of low caliber; and men of straw. . .
They’ll have sweet tongues; and silly hearts. . .
They will fight amongst themselves for power; and the two countries will be lost in political squabbles. . . .
A day would come when even air and water will be taxed.
He wrote this 64 years ago. . .
Incredibly we’ve worked very hard to prove him right. . .
(Funny I was checking the Google for this particular quote without success and to get it as soon as I wrote this piece! Is it not something fortuitous? Coincidence pure and simple!-b)