Dialogue  July-September,  2012, Volume 14 No.1

Editorial Perspective

Politics and the End of a Movement

The news of the formation of a political party by Anna Hazare’s team signals the end of his movement. After all, the problem is not that we do not have political parties; rather we have too many of them. The real problem is that our political parties lack proper building blocks, the individuals with clear vision and understanding, values and character, who constitute the respective parties. Parties, rather than the fora of the service of the nation and the society, have become the platforms for the promotion of the interests of the leaders, party men and their families. Centrality of the national cause has given way to the centrality of the interests of the leaders. For the success of democracy in our country, it was essential to educate the masses, to educate them on policies and the programmers of the Government, on every essential of the public life. But, how is it possible, if the word the leaders use is a mask, a lie and is meant to conceal and deceive, rather than to reveal and educate? Out politicians talk ill, find fault, wrangle about nothing. Blowing hot and cold in the same breath, contradicting their very first word by the second, using flattering words for the powerful, hurting one for the weak, using words for inflating their own ego, their language expresses their gall and spleen. Naturally the entire atmosphere is vitiated. In many cases, their words are not violent or offensive, but are still inane.

The media does not come out with considered impartial view on any issue. It gives contradictory views and confuses.

The Academia has thoroughly failed to raise the level of discourse. Ram Swarup had ably summed up the situation, which applies equally to them: "People merely gossip and prate. Though they talk so much, yet they have so little to say. This is true particularly of academicians and faculty men. They speak mechanically, compulsively, in jargons. They use big words for small things. Their debates, seminars and workshops are nothing but words reacting to words with little sense of relevance and reality."

All these have affected the society adversely. The present system of education, which continues to be colonial in essence, serves the purpose of the present day politicians. It has lowered the consciousness of the civil society. Ram Swarup sums up the situation:

"The words people use express, for most of the time, man’s essential thoughtlessness, the ordinariness of his soul and the triviality of his interests. They express his malice, his pride and his unrest. As a result, they lose much of their usefulness for expressing man’s higher life. For this reason, they have invited the suspicion and distrust of the sages. Competent teachers have repeatedly warned against mere words, words that hurt, that tell nothing, the letter that killeth as opposed to the spirit that quickens."

After all, it is not without reason that Parliament, the highest representative body of the Indian people, could not keep its words. The Lokpal Bill was not passed despite written assurance. The reason should be found in the vitiated social atmosphere mentioned above. Anna Hazare should have gone to the civil society, as the politicians only fear the public opinion. But the task is not easy; public education is a difficult, continuing and time-taking task for which neither Anna Hazare, nor his team members were prepared. Hence they chose the easy path of going political. But, is that task easy? Anna Hazare and Ramdev are, practically, fighting for the similar cause. But, they could not fight together. Anna failed to keep his small team united. Then, how to believe that he shall keep the flock of thousands together? And from where he will get the cadre with character and values. The difficulty is that he and his team do not believe in going to the public. But for success of their objective they shall have to go to civil society and create public opinion. For eradication of corruption, the age-old values shall have to be restored, and for that rehauling of education system is a must.

Moreover, political party, with a single agenda of eradication of corruption, is not going to win the electoral battle. The present team and their background do not assure us in anyway. It does not seem that they are capable of forming a party with a difference.

The Anna movement had both its positives and negatives. Whereas we Indians desire to have corruption-free country; whereas the cause for which the movement was started was also dear to us, many of us strongly felt against the creation of the Lokpal, a monster. Unfortunately, few cared to examine whether proper empowering of the existing agencies and changing the rules was not to bring the result. After all, time has come now that any mechanism, which further enhances authoritarian powers of the State, must be resisted. The fact that more State power, more authoritarianism, is a burden on civil society and thereby weakens it, can not and should not be ignored.

Anna Hazare’s support to going politic is evident from his statement that "there is nothing wrong in forming a party" and that only he may not join the same. Two factors seem to be responsible for the decision: (i) Anna Hazare’s frustration, rather humiliation, in failing to get the support of the political parties for his movement; (ii) the political ambition of his followers. The question is: whether he is ready to take his defeat easily? The defeat is unavoidable unless he takes the long course of educating the people. But his team is in a hurry and tired one; wants easy success which will never come.

Indian value system ensured that person develop restraint and self-control. Rit and sheel, Yama and Niyama also ensured the same. These values have been divorced due to the education we impart. The tribal societies in India also had their own mechanism to do the same. Max Mueller has approvingly conveyed the positive aspects of the tribal social life from Colonel Sleeman’s memoirs in his book, India, What Can It Teach Us. I quote from the same:

"The village-life is naturally the least know to the village officials, nay, the presence of an English official is often said to be sufficient to drive away those native virtues which distinguish both the private life and the public administration of justice and equity in an Indian villages. Take a man out of his village community, and you remove him from all the restraints of society. He is out of his element, and, under temptation, is more likely to go wrong than to remain true to the traditions of his home-life."

"falsehood or lying between members of the same village is almost unknown… . some of the most savage tribes, the Gonds, for instance, he maintains that nothing would induce them to tell a lie, …"

He further says about the same, thus:

"Of these men it might perhaps be said that they have not yet learned the value of a lie; yet even such blissful ignorance ought to count in a nation’s favour. But I am not pleading here for Gonds, or Bhils, or Santhals, and other non-Aryan tribes. I am speaking of the Aryans and more or less civilized inhabitants of India. Now among them, where rights, duties, and interests begin to clash in one and the same village, public opinion, in its limited sphere, seems strong enough to deter even an evil-disposed person from telling a falsehood. The fear of the gods also has not yet lost its power. In most villages there is a sacred tree, a pipal tree (Ficus Indica), and gods are supposed to delight to sit among its leaves, and listen to the music of their rustling. The deponent takes one of these leaves in his hand, and invokes the god, who sits above him, to crush him, or those dear to him, as he crushes the leaf in his hand, if he speaks anything but the truth. He then plucks and crushes the leaf, and states what he has to say."

"The pipal tree is generally supposed to be occupied by one of the Hindu deities, while the large cotton-tree, particularly among the large wilder tribes, is supposed to be the abode of local gods, all the more terrible, because entrusted with the police of a small settlement only. In their panchayats, Sleeman tells us, men adhere habitually and religiously to the truth, and ‘I have had before me hundreds of cases’, he says, ‘in which a man’s property, liberty, and life has depended upon his telling a lie, and he has refused to tell it.’

Could many an English judges say the same?"

It is obvious that Indian society devised different mechanisms to control the deviant social behavior. Presently, not only Rit, Sheel, Yama and Niyam are not cultivated, hold of tradition has weakened, but even there is no fear and shame if the wrong is caught. Pride and love for the nation has weakened. But, we have still many good people in every sphere of activities. This strengthens our hope for better future.

– B.B. Kumar

Dialogue (A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati)

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