Friday, July 18, 2008

ENDS AND MEANS: KILLING THE MAHATMA

“At the heart of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, was his belief...that means and ends are inseparable, and that in fact the means themselves shape the ends. He believed unworthy means can never produce worthy ends.” These stirring words were spoken by Sonia Gandhi in the United Nations on October 02, 2007 on the occasion of the first observance of the international day of non-violence.

For Gandhi the Mahatma, these words were life and blood, part of the value system he thought he had successfully transmitted to his Congress party. For the Gandhis and most others who have actually ruled and are ruling Independent India, these words are dangerous mirrors, safely tucked away only to be taken out symbolically and ceremonially when there is little choice but to outwardly reclaim the original Gandhi.

For the Mahatma, means and ends were inseparable; for India’s leaders of today too they are so. But, while the original Gandhi believed that unworthy means can never produce worthy ends, leaders of today believe that all means are worthy if they produce the desired results; the worthiness or otherwise of the ends has also long ceased to be of any concern to them. And, the one end they all see to the exclusion of everything else, and are willing to do anything for, is power, that intoxicating, corrupting ambrosia that is more addictive than even heroin.

The withdrawal of support to the UPA government by the Left has opened up opportunities for small parties and independent MPs who know that the government will need almost the last available vote to win the Trust Vote in Parliament on July 22, 2008. “Horse Trading” has begun in right earnest to purchase the judgement of these individuals and parties about whether the deal is good for the country or not. The highest bidder will be able to get the bought to say without batting an eyelid that they think what they do purely on merit and in national interest.

The buying and selling of MPs has broken all previous records. When the Narasimha Rao government faced a similar situation, it was rumoured that certain MPs had been bought for Rs3 crores to vote for the government. This time, the going price started at Rs25 crores with counter bids from the opposite camp going up to Rs35 crores. These figures have not been plucked out of thin air. These have been quoted by responsible ‘leaders’ of political parties who know little more than hurling dirt at each other with consummate skill. They are all already so much covered with filth that a little more is not going to show. Even if it does, to most of them it is a badge of pride, a much flaunted display of the power and wealth that they have accumulated in this profession.

It is not just money that is changing hands. Ministerial berths, renaming of airports, promises of future alliances, pressures on ‘inimical’ industrial houses, hounding of political opponents, changes in government policy to benefit specific industrialists, and a lot more is the price that the government is almost dying to pay. For what? Just to stay on in power for a few months more.

What is happening openly day in and out in full media glare is nothing short of disgraceful. Is this the India for which those idealistic heroes fought to get the British out of India? Our heads should be hanging in shame. There are many silent citizens out there who are deeply distressed and sickened by this rot that has spread into every organ of the country’s polity. But, when they see politicians from all political parties come on TV and aggressively justify what they are doing, they are gripped by a feeling of helplessness, of frustration which turns into resigned apathy as they realise that the mythical silver lining is nowhere in sight.

When the Parliament was attacked by terrorists a few years back, government servants in the adjoining Central Secretariat all gathered to hear the gunshots. Many of them were then openly saying, even as the automatics were rattling the atmosphere, that it would be good if these MPs were killed by the terrorists. A little later when quiet descended and news trickled in that the dead did not include any MP, there was general disappointment. No government servant or otherwise well placed individual will ever come on camera and say such things, which is why the media missed out on the pulse of the common man. The fact is that even then, the stock of India’s politicians was very, very low, right under their very noses in the power corridors of Delhi.

Now that the political class has shown a new nadir to the whole world, the average Indian has lost complete respect for it. Yet, our politicians not only show no remorse for what they all are doing but continue to defend the indefensible with aggression. One politician who is a permanent fixture on TV channels in fact went to the extent of quoting Churchill about democracy being a game of numbers to justify the sordid dealings that are taking place. He even went on to say that the present system was the best available and asked the TV anchor to suggest a better one, if he had any.

Mahatma Gandhi is to be quoted only in rarefied and sterilised environments where there is no risk of practical implementation of his values and ideals. When it comes to the brass-tacks, however, he is to be kept safely in a secure inaccessible vault from where his voice has no chance of escaping. During times of crises/opportunity presented by the real danger of losing power, the ones to be remembered are criminals locked up in jails, erstwhile ‘dalals’ and others of equally dubious merit literally prostituting themselves to get the highest price for their ‘conscience’ and vote.

Indian democracy has become worse than ‘mockocracy’, a mockery of democracy. A few completely corrupt and fully saleable MPs have the power today to decide whether the nuclear deal that Dr Manmohan Singh signed after much deliberation and with utmost personal sincerity and integrity is in the nation’s interest. Is this the voice of the nation? Are these few, and the commies stuck with a disastrous ideology, hoest and competent enough to get the nation to take decisions of grave import? Is the nation safe with such elements running amock in Parliament and even in the government? Is this the real face of the will of the people that democracy is supposed to reflect accurately?

Forget the rogue elements who have hijacked the institution of democracy in this ‘game of numbers’. Are the leading leaders of major political parties any less culpable for allowing, even promoting this disgraceful spectacle? Who needs to be held to account first? Surely this state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. Who is going to stand up and speak with the integrity of a Mahatma Gandhi? Do I hear educated and empowered people sniggering that the Mahatma is to be eulogised but cannot be practically followed?

Is India not capable of producing an Obama, the African-American of Gandhian integrity and exceptional core values that the US has embraced? Are we going to keep throwing up worthless, self-centred tinsel time after time? Is this downward slide going to continue till it is rudely interrupted by a nation so completely fed up that it will finally cry out and force an alternative to put an abrupt end to this utterly disgraceful spectacle?

Who is the real killer of Mahatma Gandhi? Was it Nathuram Godse who took life out of his body due to an ideological clash or is it those who have effectively killed his spirit due to their personal ambition and greed, while pretending to be the protectors of his legacy?

Are you willing to say or do anything to get these so called leaders to wake up and see light before it is too late? Or is it already too late?
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Readers may like to read the following posts:

1. Democracy-Mockocracy-Revolution?
2. Purging Political Immorality: Jugaad or Revolution?