Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Salute

I feel proud to be an Indian, may be for the first time in my life. The way lakhs of individuals on roads have united as one man irrespective of caste, creed, religion, age, sex, profession, class, geography, and political affiliations across the nation with the conviction and passion on display in support of Anna Hazare and with the objective of a corruption free India, I salute them. As Arvind Kejriwal said after coming out of jail a while ago, "now there is a ray of hope". Still, it is just a ray, nothing more. Those who understand Indian society will understand this.

During last couple of days, I have seen editors talking bullshit (Sh. Vinod Sharma of Hindustan Times among them) and editors talking what they should (Sh. N Ram of Hindu) on electronic media. I have seen leaders from ruling party and leaders not from ruling party (Lalu ji) repeatedly making fool of themselves through their utterances, a few lawyer Ministers being outstanding in this regard. But it hurts when people call PM names and blame the government for having been dictatorial and foolish beyond comprehension in having arrested Anna and his team. Why don't people understand that PM meant it when he said his government was determined against corruption? It is for this reason they have been acting (even though appearing too foolish) in a way such that the movement against corruption gains momentum in no time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

In Defence of Kalmadis and Yedyurappas

About a fortnight back, I penned my thoughts in the form of an article with above title and sent to 'The Statesman' if it could find any use for it. Disappointingly, it couldn't as it seems. So I reproduce below the article/write-up as I feel it is quite relevant in current times.

"In defence of Kalmadis and Yedyurappas

I am an ordinary citizen who reads newspapers and watches electronic news channels. For last one year my conscience has been bombarded with some big names who had been highly corrupt and were looting nation’s wealth or had been the facilitators for the loot. They must be prosecuted and put behind bars to cleanse the society of corruption. Suresh Kalmadi of CWG fame, Ashok Chavan for Adarsh Housing Society, A Raja and Kanimozhi for 2G scam, Yedyurappa for illegal iron ore mining in Karnataka, and now Sheila Dixit again for CWG. The list has ever been increasing. I wonder. I wonder why they should be prosecuted in first place and how their prosecution will help the society.

Let us try to understand what society is. Simply we, the people, are the society. We say that the politicians, the judiciary, the media, and the bureaucracy are the four pillars that carry the society. Kalmadi and Yedyurappa are being accused of having been corrupt. Agreed. How did they get opportunity to be corrupt? Firstly they were voted for, supported and elected by us, the society, to represent us in the legislature. It is not that before their election they were honest or known to be honest. They were voted for not for their honesty or integrity but for considerations such as their political affiliations, their religions, their castes, how they would be useful to voter groups, how much money they could spend or had spent etc. Whatever they were, honest or corrupt, they were before the elections and yet they were elected through a majority vote in their favour. They didn’t change colours overnight after elections. Even after elections they didn’t become OC or CM of their own accord. Someone else entrusted them with the responsibilities out of many options that could be available. The Prime Minister in the former case and the Karnataka legislature in the latter. Is it fair and just on part of the society to ask for heads of those whom it itself gave power to be corrupt? Yes, they are the culprits, but those who empowered them are the greater culprits. And natural justice would demand that they are punished before Kalmadis and Yedyurappas are punished. What happens in bureaucracy? The rogues and corrupts are given top and choice postings (doesn’t mean all top postings go only to rogues and corrupts). And when scandals strike, fingers are pointed at them. Those responsible for having positioned them to indulge in loot go scot-free.

Let us look at it another way also. What does Indian society do to people who show exemplary courage in fighting corrupt systems and attempt to cleanse the same? It treats them as pariah, kills them, or abandons them to suffer. All the four pillars, the politicians, the judiciary, the media, and the bureaucracy combine to be perpetrators or to feign helplessness when such people are persecuted and more than them their families suffer. Sh. Sanjiv Chaturvedi, the forest officer in Haryana and me are two live recent examples (there are a number of dead examples, Late Satyendra Kumar Dubey and Manjunath readily come to mind). I am not aware if any one of them has been honoured even posthumously by the State. Does not the Indian society by its actions demoralize those who tend to serve it and does it not motivate one to be corrupt? Then is it just for the same society to ask for punishment to a few caught in acts of corruption? It is not to condone their wrong-doings but society must understand and accept that it had been prompting them all along to be corrupt. We are really a strange people. We make so much noise about corruption and yet indulge in or accept corruption in our day to day life nonchalantly, and look down upon those fighting corruption from within as unwanted or undesirable aberrations. Sh. Rajinder Puri, for different reasons, through a very well reasoned article in the columns of this newspaper (The Statesman) asked the other day whether world was sane or mad. Answer is evident.

I am none but an ordinary citizen who reads newspapers and watches electronic news channels. I come across great sense of proportion our media has. I come across a channel that goes on harping about matters involving loss of a few crores of rupees for months (CWG scam), but doesn’t find matters involving running loss of thousands of crores of rupees (railway procurement scam) even worth reporting or mentioning. Clearly behind postures, the big names have their own axe to grind. No problem. But when they selectively ask for heads of Kalmadis and Yedyurappas, it causes revulsion. Since they dare not point fingers at those really responsible, the source, continuing well entrenched in their seats of power.

I read and listen to a number of accomplished leaders and legal and social luminaries giving assurances, making convincing arguments, blaming one-another, taking credit for wonderful work done and so on. While they keep themselves engaged in game of one-upmanship, I learn that out of one rupee of public money spent, lesser and lesser is reaching the public. The number of people below poverty line and that of starving or malnourished children in my country is ever increasing by millions. The heads of Kalmadis and Yedyurappas don’t help me, the society or the country as long as the above trends don’t get reversed. And I know as a result of my experiences as a common man and out of whatever common-sense I have that rolling of a few heads among lakhs deserving same treatment hasn’t reversed and will not reverse the trend. Therefore I wonder how their prosecution alone will help the society.

Without attending to basic problems, obsession with Kalmadis and Yedyurappas will be like wasting time in severing heads of Ravana as in no time other heads will prop up to take their place. And let us not deceive ourselves in hoping that basic problems will ever be attended to in current dispensation. In the words of Churchill, we have been allowing and facilitating rascals, rogues, freebooters and men of straw to lead us since independence. I tend to hope they have been more of freebooters and men of straw than rascals and rogues. Though of late those belonging to ruling dispensation have been distinguishing themselves in shamelessness in addition, through their daily utterances. The society allows these leaders to prosper and Baba Ramdevs who take up cudgels on behalf of the masses to pale away.

Gandhiji was not a fool when he compared the parliamentary system to prostitute and sterile woman hundred years ago. Having still gone for same system of governance and having chosen our leaders (leaders don’t chose themselves, we chose them) as prophesized by Churchill since independence, our finding scapegoats in Kalmadis, Rajas, and Yedyurappas will not help and will only be self-deceiving. Unfortunately, we have been past masters in self-deception all along."

PS (27/8/11): I, on the fine morning of the 24th Aug, found the above article on the editorial page of The Statesman duly edited as a special article. I did feel a great sense of satisfaction.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Necessity of Conflict

I reproduce below an article 'Conflict necessary for Creativity' by Sh. Raj Kachroo from today's TOI (Times of India dt 4/8/11). A perfectly written piece of wisdom. It is also relevant to my recent posts. I would request 'good' Indians to appreciate this article.

"When M K Gandhi was thrown out of a train in South Africa he had a choice to make - either to ignore the event and live in peace or enter into a conflict and face harassment, hardship and the possibility of getting physically hurt. He chose the latter. Why? Did he not have a guru who had taught him that living in peace and tranquillity was the ultimate objective of life and the best way to achieve this objective was to avoid situations of conflict? Why did he not walk away?

The Dalai Lama chose to live in exile rather than live in peace in Tibet. He is a spiritual master himself. He preaches peace around the world. Does he not know that living in peace requires avoiding situations of conflict?

Aung San Suu Kyi did not have to stay in jail. Winston Churchill did not have to join the World War. Nelson Mandela did not have to suffer in solitary confinement. Julius Nyerere did not have to fight a war with Idi Amin. There is a long list of people who have embraced conflict despite standing for peace, otherwise. They had the courage to stand up against repression rather than submit to it.

Both the Ramayana and Mahabharata, revered Indic epics, are stories of war, not peace. Krishna did not tell the Pandavas to ignore the incident of Draupadi's humiliation in court (the Draupadi vastraharan). He encouraged them to go to war. The Gita says engaging in war to uphold truth is not a matter of choice for a warrior; it is his duty. Islam says participation in jihad is the duty of a Muslim when the fight is to uphold justice when challenged by oppression, as a way of self-defence.

Most of us are confused between conflict and the method of resolving a conflict. We assume, incorrectly, that Gandhi, as a peace-loving person, must have avoided situations of conflict. On the other hand, he faced conflict head-on. Bhagat Singh and Gandhi were both gearing themselves to deal with conflict, except that Gandhi tried to employ peaceful means while Bhagat Singh chose aggression.

The duty of a scientist, artist or professor is also to engage in conflict against repressive regimes of knowledge. Any kind of limited knowledge is a form of bondage. Albert Einstein advanced the boundaries of scienti-fic knowledge. James Joyce did the same in the world of literature. He flouted rules of writing as he saw them as restrictions on creativity. Picasso and M F Husain, for example, explored realms beyond accepted rules in visual art. Mother Teresa redefined the concept of caring. Every one of them faced criticism and controversy, yet they remained convinced of the nature of their work and the methods they used to fulfil their vision. They remained engaged.

One can only conclude from this that the people we admire and even those we worship have all rejected the existing as being adequate and have chosen to engage in conflict to expand the existing. They have redefined the purpose of our life.

The purpose of our life is not to live in passive acceptance but to engage with conflict in order to be creative. Creativity is the purpose of life. The purpose is to advance an individual soul and the collective Consciousness. The only word of caution here is that we must first settle ourselves spiritually so that we know whether a conflict is justified or not. "

An absurdly unjust society

India is an absurdly unjust society. Most of us know it. For those who don't, I share a simple experience I had today.

Today was date for hearing in CAT (Central Administrative Tribunal) regarding payment of my retirement dues by Railways. The Hon'ble judge had given certain simple directions to the Railway advocate during last hearing. He simply didn't comply with those. No reason, just callousness. What does the judiciary do? They just assign next day for hearing about two months hence. I, the petitioner, is made to suffer for the lapse of the respondent. No harm comes to respondents or any-one else.

Many of us must be coming across even worse experiences in our day to day life in this great country and we just go on accepting the rubbish.

Nakedness and Shamelessness

Generally nakedness and shamelessness go together. But there is a difference. While there is a limit to being naked, there is no limit for shamelessness. This is what present ruling party and government seem to have been trying to teach us for last one year. If we don't learn, they have to continue with the lesson. Rather than blaming them we should learn fast and tell them so. Probably that will make them discontinue their acts of shamelessness further. Good luck!