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Rediff.com  » News » 60 years later, what has India achieved?

60 years later, what has India achieved?

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Last updated on: September 25, 2006 11:50 IST
So who won the Vande Mataram war?

Is it the Congress who once again capitulated to the Muslim mullahs to try and secure their future votes? Is it the mullahs themselves and their staunch followers who again ensured that their religious identity reigns supreme in Hindustan?

Was it one more triumph for our soft-at-heart liberals descending from the Mahatma and Nehru down to Manmohan Singh, (the latter) who believes that a joint mechanism on terrorism with Pakistan is good for India?

Did the BJP come up trumps by again blowing its conch of nationalism and patriotism?

Or did the centenary Vande Mataram Test actually end in a draw?

Truth be told, none of the warring parties won. Nor was it a contest with honours shared equally. There was, in fact, one loser: the Indian nation.

It's clear that even 60 years after Independence from the British, our nation is not united over such a simple and sacred symbol as the national song. It is truly a Himalayan failure, the like of which must be unparalleled in the remaining 195 countries of the world.

Come to think of it, on which issue is our nation in unison 60 years after Independence?

We can't agree whether we at all need to beg for civil nuclear energy from abroad and what indignities to suffer for it. We can't agree on the percentage of our population that's below the poverty line and we can't agree that caste and religion be abandoned as required information on government forms. There's no unanimity either as to whether a fidayeen bomber is to be labeled a militant or a terrorist. So on and so forth.

Similar is the situation at the level of the state, the district, the taluka and the gram panchayat. That is why not a single of the hundreds of the so-called 'co-operative' housing societies of the urbane and educated in Maharashtra is free of infighting and bitterness.

Just see the gravity of the dissent and ego exhibited all round. The other day a lawyer threatened the judge in court 'hear me or suffer my curse'. In December 2005, the then chief justice of Delhi high court remarked during a hearing that the Supreme Court's orders under Article 142 of the Indian Constitution are not binding on the high courts.

The Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association has decreed that no lawyer should take the brief of the accused in the state's alleged sex scandal. And the Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid publicly says he wants Muslims to rule over Hindustan once again. Indiscipline, illegality and impunity are up and about everywhere and go scot-free.

Have we become ultra-democratic then? Has 'freedom' become a fanatical fetish with us? If so, why?

Have the myriad laws of the land just too many loopholes? Has our police mechanism become just one more purchasable commodity? Have our lawyers and bureaucrats become too crafty? Has fear of the law become minimal? Has it all added so much fuel to the fire of 'free' speech and 'free' will and 'free' acts?

Has the concept of fundamental rights exploded so much that a citizen's 10 fundamental duties enumerated in Article 51A of our Constitution continue to be non-enforceable? Have we come to believe that killer terrorists too have human rights?

Now the Indian has been traditionally deemed to be argumentative, as Amartya Sen would have us believe with his reference to Pandit Javali's criticism of Lord Ram in the Ramayana. But the more ubiquitous and accepted character of the Indian has for long been to accept his guru's command without question -- the way Eklavya did. Even, not many decades ago, the Mahatma's command was taken as inviolable.

So it was with Jawaharlal Nehru whose wishes were carried out without challenge by all including Sardar Patel despite his inner conviction (that) Nehru was making a thorough mess of the Kashmir question.

So how did it all go topsy-turvy? How did the tolerant India become belligerent, rebellious?

Perhaps Jawaharlal Nehru of free India was the origin.

Nehru's major follies that sowed the fissiparous tendencies and acrimony of today are --

  • Thrusting the Hindu Code on the majority community in the early fifties when time was opportune to enact a Uniform Civil Code, the sustained fear of enacting which has helped to boost disproportionately the obstinacy of the minority community which was encouraged further by acts such as the Haj subsidy started by Nehru.
  • The creation of linguistic states in 1956 that inexorably has led to regionalism first, nationalism second, and to mushrooming of political parties willing to sacrifice ethics to attain power as State satraps at any cost or compromise.
  • The obsession with a socialistic pattern of society that stymied economic growth while ironically failing to create livelihood avenues at the rural level through massive spread of primary schools and of physical as well as socio-economic infrastructure.
  • The over-emphasis on the public sector leading to bureaucratisation, corruption and unrestrained trade unionisation.
  • The failure to create and implement a strong population control policy that has today led to millions of hungry mouths without the barest means of subsistence thereby nurturing a vast expanse of anger against the State as an entity.

The above scenario from the Nehru legacy has only darkened over the years what with the emphasis on human rights on one side and establishment of divisive bodies like the Minority Commission, the Mandal Commission, the Minority Affairs ministry and the Sachar Committee. Indira Gandhi's Emergency was the only brief period in which there was discipline in the country, but she overdid it -- resulting in more unbounded freedom thereafter.

Governments and their leaders thereafter have acted in a self-centred manner, the nation's good being judged by their own vested interests. Political leaders who can inspire the countless by making sacrifices have become an almost extinct species and don't, please, try to fob off Sonia Gandhi's 'sacrifice' on any but the dumb and the sycophant.

Today, it's all unbounded freedom -- to dissent, to destroy, to deceive. Today, politics is all about pelf, power and position, with ends justifying the means. Barring some glorious exceptions, this philosophy has rubbed off on almost the entire nation -- from the metros, where the ultra-liberals live in a world of their own, to the villages where even the so-called social activists and armed revolutionaries 'fighting' for the cause of the depraved and downtrodden are in the game for their own bread, butter, jam and ale.

Today, we have no national idols or ideals.

It came through starkly and stunningly in 1962 when some ideologists among us welcomed the Chinese invasion of our land. Even the Kargil war of 1999 united us for but a brief while before 'the coffin scam' brought us back to our infighting best.

Or perhaps it all really started when our founding fathers lacked the courage to enshrine the first two verses of Vande Mataram as our national anthem, take it or leave it. Or did they blunder by not opting for Sare Jahan Se Accha Hindustan Hamara?

Today, our disparate and despicable values in vogue do not merit a national song. We're in need of a national dirge instead.

Arvind Lavakare

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