Politics sans morality will take India nowhere


Kuch bat hai ki hasti mitTi nahi hamari

Sadiyon raha hai dushman daur-e-zamaaN hamara
— Allama Iqbal

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Role model: Ex-prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri has been an epitome of morality in politics

It was too late before we became conscious of the diminishing relevance of these words by Iqbal. The realisation of our place in the world in terms of poverty, illiteracy, corruption and human development dawns in only when we find ourselves at the lowest positions in various index published worldwide. Recently, ISRO created a world record by launching 104 satellites, this was a moment of pride for each and every Indian. But can we really bask in the glory of these rare proud moments?

Iqbal’s words must have been inspired by the tradition of sacrifice and spirituality that is an intrinsic part of India’s history. Gandhi’s non-violence, Bhagat Singh’s ‘Why am I an Atheist’ and the way Subhash Chandra Bose created the Indian National Army after touring the whole world must have been the examples that inspired this song that talks about the grandeur of India.

If we talk of Indian politics and morality, Lal Bahadur Shastri, is a very prominent example. As a member of Nehru’s cabinet he had resigned from his post taking moral responsibility for a train accident. But today ‘moral responsibility’ is the term that has completely disappeared from Indian politics. In the 10 years of the UPA government many scams came to the front. Be it, 2G, Coal Scam or the corruption in the organization of Commonwealth games, no minister or concerned person took moral responsibility for these, let alone resign from their post.

On the other hand when Watergate came to light in the US, President Richard Nixon and 69 other people had to resign from their posts, later 48 people went to jail after trials. After this incident morality came to the forefront and no other President of the US has been directly blamed of corruption
ever since.

Similarly in the year 2008-09 the scandal of overhead expenses by Members of British House of Lords and House of Commons came to light. While discussions regarding providing this information under the RTI were still going on, The Telegraph published the story. Around 30 members had spent a very nominal amount, cases were filed against them and some members were also jailed. Later some of them left politics, a few members among these were also of Indian origin.

The question arises that why is it that when a person becomes a people’s representative or a minister his communication link with the people is severed. This link is temporarily reconnected only when it is election time again.

Sacrifice used to be the synonym of Indian politics but today the sole aim of coming into power is to become wealthy and influential. Today, no person in power has the capability to move ahead on the basis of his morality. As Gandhiji used to say, politics will be a lost cause without morality. Yet, morality has disappeared from Indian politics. Are all of us responsible for this or can we step aside by blaming some politically active people, isn’t there any place for collective responsibility? When I look back at my journalistic career of two decades, it pains me greatly to see that people are turning away from the values of selfless sacrifice and responsible execution of duties. Today, the sole aim of coming to power seems to exercise control over natural resources and accumulate as much wealth as possible.

Louis XIV of France was such an arrogant person that when he entered the court a curtain was opened and it was announced that the sunlight is now allowed to enter the room. He wrote a letter to his son, Louis XV and suggested that he should surround himself with honest people for conducting the affairs of the country, in addition he should also ensure that the commander of the army is ready to make selfless sacrifices for his country. Louis XV did not follow this and as a result a revolution overtook France as soon as Louis XVI came to power.

Aurangzeb had also written a similar letter to his son. The main point here is that everyone wants to convey something to their future generation but where does the error occur, what is the point when one is led astray from the righteous path? If we talk about Indian history, the example of Ghanananda is very prominent, he stole from his own treasury and when Mahasatra raised his voice against it, he was given a death sentence. Similarly, when Chanakya’s father protested he also had to face ire from various quarters.

If we look at the background of various historic events it is evident that values in our life are mainly determined by what we are taught in our childhood, as it is said home is the first school of a person. If so, then from where does the corruption in people who have sworn upon the constitution arise?

Are the measures taken by PM Narendra Modi the only way to tackle corruption and the desire for control? Are laws on black money and checks exercised by the Tax Department enough to overcome corruption? Has demonetization been effective in controlling black money or does the problem still loom large? There is no guarantee that such measures will reduce corruption. It is not that only the UPA government has been targeted, allegations have been levied against the NDA government too but these have not yet been proven in the courts.

The bottom line remains that morality has completely disappeared from Indian politics and today there is no politician who can be remotely compared to the aura of morality that surrounds the likes of Lal Bahadur Shastri.

If one talks of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal’s experiment with good governance seems to be failing. Had the progress made in the last 15 years in Delhi been carried forward the entire scene of Delhi would have been different. It is shameful that there are people who want to hinder the paths of those who work selflessly for public good.

If we really want to honour Iqbal’s words then it is imperative that our politicians exemplify the qualities of simplicity, patience, morality and sacrifice; there would be no place for arrogance of power in such a setup. It is very refreshing to see prominent leaders in Western countries walk with ordinary citizens of the country without much security and paraphernalia. If such simplicity can be seen in the high offices in our country then it would be a step in the right direction to make our country great again.