What a time to choose to write this piece - on the eve of India’s 65th Independence day, just when, the whole country seems to be embroiled and obsessed with the need for another freedom movement although this is not exactly for a new nation or maybe if I am to put it in literal terms – It is for a new nation. And who should be the crusaders – a Yoga guru, a pre independence ex-army jawan-socialist-octogenarian, a voluntary retired IAS officer, an ex reformist IPS officer, a retired Supreme court judge, a lawyer and close to a million (they will argue the whole nation but trust me I have been optimistic with my figures) Indians. Indeed with such noble leaders one can expect the struggle for the foundation of the new nation to be robust and authentic. So did I till I sniffed it to be another political movement bent upon change of guard of who rules the nation.
Let me confess that I am not much of a political person so I get away by being what a typical middle class citizen is good at – maintaining the vicious cycle of electing, discussing, criticising and re electing governments and representatives at every level. That actually does not make me a genuine commentator of the course of the present day events, yet being a creature of habit, I choose to present a point of view never-the-less.
When Shakespeare announced that “All the world’s a stage,” I believe we took this literally or maybe the bard just pronounced what we as human beings have always loved – a good spectacle. Leaders or the so called leaders love this trait and why not so – it takes courage to become or stage one such. However even this needs a cause and in this problem fraught world it would not be much to find one lying just next to you waiting to be hurled up and highlighted in bold Neon from the rooftops. A fight against corruption was one of the easier and topical ones which have been floating around since our epic days. Come to think of it even our epics could not provide a solution to this except lamely announcing that with the death or exit of the good men a new era (yug) of malice and corruption will descend. So it did and rampantly spread across in every era and in each era people raised a voice against it. I am happy that in India and in this era this has been religiously upheld. However is this cause worthy or even the right cause because had it been so, the issue would have been resolved long time ago.
I have always thought that we are knocking at the wrong door for the remedy of this problem. Corruption cannot be eradicated because it is engrained in the human genes and unless we decide to identify the perfect pair of human being, have them reproduce and breed the perfect children and hope that this multiplies to the creation of the perfect nation and then the world, the thought of eradicating corruption is superficial and holistic. This is not my cynicism but an honest (sigh) belief and observation. Ironically when Plato suggested the above solution for the creation of the perfect Republic his study and philosophy became a term which itself meant ‘not of the physical (possible) realm.’ So if you think that in my opinion the perfect Republic minus the corruption and other vagaries associated with it is not possible, you are mistaken. I have no intention of propounding any nihilistic theory here. That would be blasphemy of my own ideology.
Change is required. Change is required in human behaviour. This does not imply that we go about trying to change the behaviour of every other person. Change begins within one’s own self. Leaders cannot or perhaps can catalyst this change. If they at all have to catalyst it then the call out should not be – “Give me this and then I will do this.” It rather should be “Be this and keep being this.” Social theory says that human beings have a tendency to adopt and adapt behaviours. Not surprising since our children learn to behave the way we behave. So where is the corruption stemming from? It is somewhere within us and yet superficially we want to oppose it and hence will raise a voice with the crowd. Honestly, I believe we are trying to exorcise our own ghosts in the garb of blaming someone else for our share of problems. A Ramdev baba, Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi are good leaders. They have what each one of us aspire to have and hence we will follow them blindly thinking that they are right. They might be or may not be, but the fear/question is that if they are not - Are we strong enough to accept the truth?
I have read books on our freedom movement and what I might now say will sound bizarre or perhaps even unbelievable to many but it is the truth. Gandhi or Nehru did not get us our independence. It was each man and woman of that period who wanted independence and believed in their own strength of character. Read Gandhi carefully – he never exhorted the people to raise their voices till he believed that they believed in what they were doing. In the Congress session of 1940 he announced this boldly from the podium saying that the country is not ready for independence. Many have connoted this term to their own convenience and theory but if one compares Gandhi’s ideology one will believe in what I have just proposed. In this present scenario I can state that – “Yes I believe that corruption should be eradicated,” but that is me saying it and yet not practising it for real. Eradicating corruption will begin with me saying ‘No’ to my own willingness to succumb to it.
There have been long drawn debates and comparisons to Anna’s or Ramdev’s movement as an Independence movement. This is foolish. Our independence movement was not a political movement – it was a movement of character and self belief in the truth. There were no political ambitions till the penultimate hours before the split of the nation. The IAC movement or the Ramdev movement is nothing but a political movement curtained by a socialist call. In a recent debate on a news television, which fortunately for them, such movements have given them enough fodder to keep the high paid political editors, anchors and script writers busy, I overheard some dignitary saying that post independence, if there has been any movement true to its character and cause; it has been the Jai Prakash Narayan Movement. I so whole heartedly agreed to this. If you are not aware of this movement do some search and you will understand and believe why I say so. A fight against corruption, I would argue is not even a socialist call. It is as termed earlier the easiest and most Platonic call.
If you ask me, and I have already indemnified myself and my opinion in the true blue middle class manner, on this independence day I will try and change myself and my character to establish myself as a person who befits the preamble and the oath of being an Indian. You can choose your own and there is no force on any, since our share of problems will not reduce by an opinion, or will it. Wishing you all a good day and good year.