70 years of Independence. A recap on the state of affairs as handed over to us by our colonial master in this narrative:
When India got her independence, there were three types of Governance, patterns (1) the British model in their presidencies (2) the feudalistic model of kingdoms run by kings like the Nawab of Hyderabad and (3) the Portuguese and French rule in places like Goa and Pondicherry.
Only after making the princes accede to the sovereign rule of India and quelling the residual rulers like the Portuguese that the Indian republic was born. Further, the only expansion to our map till date was when Sikkim acceded to Indian rule in1975.
What emerged from the ingredients of different languages, religions and patterns of governance thrown into the melting pot since Independence was surprisingly a goo that never blended into a cooked dish.
Shakespeare would have probably said “The evil from all these differences has survived and the good has been interred with the earth”.
Religion has provided many ‘God men’ but very few ‘Good men’ who have off late lent its name to radicals who unleash violence on citizens in the garb of upholding its sanctity. The country divided on linguistic basis has produced chauvinists who go with a can of tar, blackening boards that display languages of other states. They do not realize that all languages are at best only transient forms of communication and history has proven that even languages like Latin and Sanskrit which have tried to retain their purity have few takers today. Even the survival of a language like English has been possible only because it has adapted to times by borrowing heavily from other languages.
Governance is proving to be difficult. Parliament is being converted to a battleground of ‘intolerant’ behaviour. Debate, the cornerstone of democracy, has almost vanished and has been replaced by orchestrated din. Corruption at lower levels is passé and a scrupulously honest government employee is an exception, not the rule. States live in ‘water tight’ compartments and are not even ready to share river water with their downstream brethren.
In recent times ‘Intolerance’ has captured more headlines than it deserves. Was the murder of rationalists an isolated incident of a hate crime by a person who hated their version of ‘God’ or was it a well-orchestrated murder to eliminate anyone who differs from their view of ` ‘Religion and God’. Are symbols of Hindu religious sacredness universally accepted by all professing the faith or are a handful of ‘intolerant fanatics’ wearing the mantle of protecting the religion lynching people to death; people who they perceive as having violated their code of fundamentalism? It has to realized that with 80% of the population according to 2011 census being Hindus, it becomes imperative for the vast majority of Hindus to ensure that they first live in harmony amongst themselves before they can even think of a secular India.
A thumbnail sketch of the Hindu religion is as follows: As life in most parts of India was lived without much struggle with the natural environment, an intelligent race developed rapidly up to 2500 B.C. This is evident from the Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro civilizations of our sub-continent. It is this intelligence combined with hard work that led to the prolific development of India for many centuries thereafter.
People had much time to devote to areas of abstract thinking –that eventually centered on seeking an abstract force that was purported to be our creator who was the guiding spirit in our lives- giving way to philosophy and organised religions. As this country was a land of plenty, all the religions that have a root in India –Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism – are absolutely altruistic religions as they evolved around a way of life that was actually lived and experienced. The essence of all these religions ironically centered on “Constructive Destruction” – an oxymoron, but self-explanatory: The seed has to self-destruct to create a flower, the flower has to self-destruct to create a fruit and fruit has to self-destruct to create a seed. Similarly, it’s only when you destroy the evil within yourself that you can yourself become a replica of your creator. This is the basis of all religions that have their origin in the Indian sub-continent
It is at this juncture when one begins to wonder if India requires another Gandhi to solve our social woes.
The answer to the question is a resounding ‘Yes’.
The ‘why’ to this ‘Yes’ is – Gandhi’s greatest asset was adherence to Truth. The cause he believed in- equality amongst all Indians- would have been the catalyst for him to bring all the religious groups to the discussion table. His presence would have lent voice to the weaker section of the community. His very nature of respecting others and never having a villainous trait would have made people listen to him. Any action taken by the Government on issues which he felt strongly against would have been met with a ‘Nonviolent’ struggle. This would make the Government more responsive to upholding the constitution. Governments will not resort to allowing abuse by their followers to implement their hidden agendas that is ultra vires to the constitution. His cause for the weak ‘The weak can never forgive, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong’- would have strengthened the cause of the poor farmer and the marginalized sections of our society.
Irrespective of the Government, citizens would feel secure that they have a person who would protect them. By organizing mass public assertion, he would have changed the course of any wrong policies. Based on his view that ‘Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of true democratic spirit’ Gandhi would not have hesitated in offering himself as the first ‘sacrifice’ to any intolerant act. The narrative of Governments stating ‘Why are you condemning our behavior on intolerance when you are not condemning the same in other opposition ruled states?’ would have been met by a Gandhian response- a nonviolent satyagraha in each of the states showing a ‘blind eye’ to intolerance. This would have shamed the rulers of all these states before the eyes of the very persons who gave them the power to rule.
Farmers would have been the greatest beneficiaries of a person of the Mahatma’s stature. Farmer suicides which today are being taken as a ‘way of life’ would have shaken the conscience of the Mahatma and would have redefined priorities of Governance in the country.
A Gandhi in our midst would have been the embodiment of conscientious ‘Dictatorship’- his single ‘Conscience’ in 125 crore people to guide us through our ‘intolerant’ times.