Why I am an Indian
2nd October 1969, was a very important day for all Indians, as the nation was celebrating the birth centenary of Mahatma Gandhi.
I was a boy of eleven years. My school had organized several competitions, such as elocution, essay writing, photo-show on the life and deed of the Mahatma. I remember, I won the first prize in elocution competition and a biography of the Mahatma was awarded to me as prize. The book created an indelible impression on my mind. Particularly, Gandhiji's application of Ahimsa (non-violence) as the tool against the mighty British Empire impressed me significantly.
If someone slaps you on one cheek, show him the other cheek was Gandhiji's magic formula. As a child unconsciously the Gandhian concept of non-violence became a part of my core personality.
My grandmother was illiterate. She had no scope to read any literature on Gandhian philosophy. But in a very strange coincidence, her world- view was remarkably Gandhian.
She was my mentor and guide during my growing up stage in life -- childhood and adolescence. But, unfortunately when I look back in life, I feel Gandhi and grandmother made me an unfit in the game of survival. I am certainly not contemporary or the Darwinian fittest to rise higher in evolutionary ladder.
Yes, a lot of impractical, obsolete, ideas of existence have crowded my mind. Every new day appears like a burden of existence. Still I cannot come out of the shadows of Gandhi and grandmother. Added to this, love for books has aggravated my existential dilemma. This does not make a difference to the world. But I believe that there may be many people in this world who have been misguided by these value systems and suffering from value-laden guilt.
We are living in a violent and cruel world. Some nations are more violent than others. India is more violent than many other developed countries of the world. India was historically not a nation in the true sense of the term. It was a land mass ruled by several Kings, Sultans, Nawabs, Badshahs, and Zamindars. It was extremely diverse culturally, linguistically and racially. The only thread that integrated this vast diversity, probably, was the commonality of their religious practices. It is definitely a matter of pride that from such diverse pluralities India has emerged as a nation. Thanks to the unification made by more than two hundred years of British rule.
But historically the common man has lived a life of misery and cruel injustice has been handed down to the followers of non-violence. They have always been treated as weak and therefore the target of inhuman exploitation. I do not know whether Gandhiji, Lord Buddha and other votaries of non-violence had ever contemplated on this aspect of society before preaching their philosophy of non-violence, truth and love. In the present day perspective they have done more damage to their followers and disciples than any good.
On the 14th August 1947 midnight ( that was 15th August) Pundit Nehru addressed to the nation emphasizing on India's awakening to light and freedom. Despite a gloomy and gory backdrop of mass genocide, Indians all across celebrated the Independence Day with full gusto and delight. Why not? To any Indian it was the end of tyranny of foreign rule for centuries, nay for millennia; farewell to despotic Kings and Monarchs, to the unjust foreign rulers.
On 26th day of November 1949, we the people of India gave to ourselves the longest Constitution of the world. The elaborate Constitution committed to the citizens of this newly born nation: Justice-- social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and opportunity, Fraternity, Human dignity etc. These promises were like dream-come-true and words unheard before on this large land-mass called India. The empowerment of the common man in his motherland looked so comforting and so much so inspiring that the wound of foreign rule became history and the road ahead looked rosy and bright.
In the meantime 66 years have passed with 66 hot and dusty Indian summers and cold and biting winters. In our adventure in self-rule and in our experiment with democracy, we have stumbled, faltered and in the process have created a society which is scary, dangerous and antithetical to human dignity. The Frankenstein is out. We are not far away from anarchy and self-destruction. The Mayans went wrong in their prophecy of Dooms day, but our engineers of destruction are all out untiringly and unfailingly to prove them right.
The loftiest promise made to the Indians in their bulky and exhaustive Constitution was JUSTICE. As such, despite its terminological antiquity, Justice is a relatively new concept for mankind. Perusal of human political and social history, does not exhibit any civilization or society which had the right cannons of justice. On the other hand, the history of mankind replete with instances of exploitation of the weak and the poor. At best, justice was for the rich, famous and the powerful people. Man has been subject to indescribable injustice inflicted by political leadership, guardians of religions, wealthy and socially influential people. Societies all through the recorded history, but for some exceptions, were violent and cruel in character.
In the process of social evolution some nations in the world, of course, have been able to minimize this inherent violent and cruel characters of their societies. But the extraordinary burden of competition has again deprived the citizens of these counties to rank low in their happiness quotient. Then what was this grand design of Justice the creators of our Constitution had in their mind for the common, ordinary, and inconsequential citizens of this country?
To my knowledge, the process of Justice in our country has three arms-- the police administration/ investigative agencies, the legal professionals and the judiciary. In today's context which one of these three arms is commonman friendly with unblemished sanctity. Of late, media -- the fourth column of democracy, has apparently become responsive to human rights and justice. But in their over enthusiasm and to be ahead in the competition, some media houses overstep their jurisdiction and encroach into the areas of judiciary. Undoubtedly, their wide penetration into society has made them a formidable force to swing opinion and pass judgment before trial. This indisputably is a disturbing trend, due to the power swing which can result in rampant corruption. However, a powerful press with integrity could be a good hope for the commonman.
Who does not know about the corruption in our police and investigative departments? They rank at the top of the corrupt organizations in our country. Police in any civilized society plays a pivotal role in providing attributive, retributive and distributive justice to the people. Therefore, the image of a police man has to be trustworthy and upright. Does any Indian cherish such an image about our police men? Police is for the influential, for the rich and for the powerful. This seemingly incorrigible corrupt police administration in our country has made our quest for justice, a far cry. If by mistake you cross their path, they have enough arsenals to make you miserable for rest of your life. They are not unaware about the inefficiency and other aspects of our judiciary.
Sometimes ago I shuddered to read in the newspapers about the ten most corrupt Chief Justices of India. What a shame. A man sitting on the chair of a judge is vested with the power of God to decide the course of destiny of a person and consequently the destiny of a society. Do we not often hear about the corruption in judiciary? Do we not become victims of the rich, influential and powerful people and wait indefinitely to get justice ruining our peace, happiness, financial standing and what not? And the justice may ultimately come after decades of miseries, at a cost or may not come at all. The intermediaries between the police and the judiciary are the legal professionals. It is an irony that majority of the legal professionals are seldom knowledgeable about law. They thrive on common man's ignorance of the complicated legal system of our country. Your association with a legal practitioner for remedy is a bonding for rest of your life. The remedy always drifts farther from you and like a drowning man you catch on to the straw. You are dragged into a vicious circle of no escape. Even an innocent person has to quickly learn from his legal adviser, why he might prove guilty and why he should stick on to him for his safety. Mind manipulation is a very dangerous tool used by these guardians of justice to doom your life to unending damnation. There are no doubt some brilliant and highly knowledgeable legal professionals in our country, even at our vicinity also. But they are either devoted to twist the interpretation of law to the benefit of their clientele; in other words even to provide protection to the perpetrators of crime. In their Lucifer like powerful oratory and ominous knowledge of the deficiency in the legal system, they quite often than not, succeed in protecting their criminal clientele. For common, ordinary, poor and innocent people to reach these misguided brilliant minds is like asking for moon. They are overloaded and are exorbitantly expensive for the ordinary. Where do you go now for upholding justice and human dignity? Keep yourself consoled by reading the Constitution, which has been made practically inoperative and crippled by the custodians of justice. But we Indians are very adept in philosophizing sufferings with religious references. When we go helpless, we always say that there is a God who knows the truth and he will definitely punish the wicked and save the innocent. I wish, such a God should read our Constitution and also pay more attention to our predicament.
Where are we heading for? If the pillar of justice is infested by termite like administrators and intermediaries, the social edifice is bound to crumble. Along with it many other vital Institutions of our society are sure to fall giving way to anarchy. A country like India with such vast diversity and large population will not be able to withstand this imminent collapse, the process of which has already set in.
Bomb blasts in Hyderabad, Delhi or Mumbai are gross physical expression of how violent our society is. But the subtle violence and cruelty in our society does not kill a few dozens of people here and there, but these are poisons for a billion of people who haplessly consume it everyday. I had my own close encounter with the horrifying process of justice, which I have not revealed here; as when I myself hold the view that our noble Constitution has become inoperative, I am afraid whether I should exercise my fundamental right to Freedom of expression.
The impoverishment of judicial process is a sinister sign, for it negates other fundamental rights granted to the citizens of this country. Gradually power-wealth-influence centers have taken the front stage snatching away the rights of the common and ordinary citizens. Who does not know that one has to appease the greed, egos and in some cases the nefarious desires of the Babus, Police, Politicians even for one's legitimate rights? If one has proximity to power center, to police officials one can even victimize innocent people, can drive upright human beings to lunacy.
We are not living in a free society, we are not living in a welfare society, rather we are living in a hypocritical frame work and a violent society. Every day like slow poison subtly and cunningly violence is inflicted on us. Historically, Indians are a tolerant people and they assign everything to their fate. Because of these passive traits in us we take everything in our stride. The fear lurks that if you are reluctant to accept the designs of the powerful and influential people you are sure to be victimize and endangered.
Who does not know that big money changes hand in political circles? Who does not know that rules and laws are bent to favor the rich? Who does not know that the police force is a puppet in the hands of their political masters? Who does not know that we are ruled by an inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy? Who is not aware that politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats, police people possess assets disproportionate to their known source of income?
This grim state of affairs is breaking down the boundaries of tolerance slowly, and is manifested in several social maladies, deviant behaviors and anti-social activities, sometimes terrorism. Psychologists say that the deviant behavior of the child can be traced to the behavioril pattern of the parents. In the same logic, the ever increasing crime scenario in our country such as rape, murder, violence etc. have their origin in the malfunctioning of our judicial and administrative system. Deployment of umpteen number of police force will not ameliorate the situation unless we fight with courage against injustice and corruption not being swayed away by the empty slogans and manipulated statistics.
India to remain unified and shine as a great nation needs restoration of high standard of values and ethics, which were the cannons of social existence in the past. Be aware that Indians are, particularly, not very patriotic. (Picture: Pepe Pont)