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Updated: December 11, 2009 00:14 IST

Tasks for a Prime Minister

V. R. Krishna Iyer
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PAYING TRIBUTES: Then Narasimha Rao introduced Manmohan Singh to the world of politics during his regime. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
PAYING TRIBUTES: Then Narasimha Rao introduced Manmohan Singh to the world of politics during his regime. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

In search of a progressive transformation in Indian leadership.

Life is never at a standstill since society is dynamic. Jefferson said every generation is a new nation. Therefore it has the right to change its Constitution and leadership.

Indeed, from its Vedic days and epic ages India has changed its culture and basic structure from age to age. When Bharat came under the British Crown it was subject to imperial governance. Finally a do-or-die struggle for independence was launched till the people of India gained swaraj and made a tryst with destiny to make the country a Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic under a Constitution.

Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation; Jawaharlal Nehru, the architect of Free India; Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, who drafted the Constitution; Subhas Chandra Bose, whose spiritual materialism and militant patriotism drove India to organise an army to struggle for Independence; Indira Gandhi, who implemented a socialist-secular constitutional amendment and divided Pakistan which invaded India; V.K. Krishna Menon, architect of non-alignment and adviser to Jawaharlal Nehru, and many other heroes and heroines, formed the backbone of swaraj. And now you, by giving a role for peace in a nuclear-terrorist, war- mongering world, is adding to that heritage. I salute you.

India is India, as Manmohan put it in chaste English. And paramountcy is our Constitution — not foreign investment, not nuclear terrorism. Peace with Pakistan on a morally, politically, realistically just ground is your next challenge. We are with you if you are with India as a world power, not as an international mendicant for arms.

Dr. Manmohan Singh, this century belongs to you, a leader of socialist India. It does not belong to privatisation or to any such global syndrome. Lead kindly light, amidst the encircling gloom, and never be with the Western brand and style of development.

Gandhian development was presented in The Third World Tomorrow by Paul Harrison thus: “The Gandhian concept of development rejected the idea that it should aim primarily at the creation of material wealth or the satisfaction of insatiable, endlessly multiplied needs.” He added: “Insofar as we have made the modern materialistic craze our goal, so far are we going downhill in the path of progress.”

This is our vision and mission till the last hungry Indian is safe in Bharat Mahan.

Max Mueller described India as the world’s finest home of culture. The basic struggle of the Indian Constitution and culture were Socialist, Secular and Democratic. But by means of a silent operation, without the nation’s active attention and accidentally, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao managed a new regime, departing from the fundamental principles of Bharat’s bedrock of culture. He virtually hijacked Dr. Manmohan Singh from the World Bank, which is for all practical purposes governed by the U.S. Dr. Manmohan Singh was a great economist conditioned by America Incorporated.

Our national economy was rooted in the Indian goal of gram swaraj and agrarian development. It was shifted to step up foreign investment and exotic imports (and also more urban slums). The nation’s basic lifestyle was changed. After Narasimha Rao, eventually Dr. Manmohan Singh became Prime Minister, reflecting in large measure Sonia Gandhi’s programmatic-shrift. Dr. Manmohan Singh was considerably influenced by the White House.

As the nation changes, its ethos and leadership also does undergo a transformation, as from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. The people of the U.S. voted for a different ideology. It was a revolutionary event that affected the whole world. India is no exemption, and Dr. Manmohan Singh was inspired by the culture of swaraj and the stature of Mr. Obama. A new world emerged with Dr. Manmohan Singh adopting dynamic policies that were different from the past. And like Mr. Obama a new Indo-U.S. relationship and an Indo-Russian transformation came to the fore. This writer was conditioned by Nehru’s policies, which were inevitably different from Dr. Manmohan Singh’s.

Your challenge, a difficult one, is the frightful escalation of rents and commodity prices, which are making life dreadful for the ordinary person. The same is the case with primary education, hospitals and medicines. The right to life (as enshrined in Article 21) is in peril for the average Indian. We import rice and other basic living needs, and commodities are being sold at fancy prices, leaving the poor often to starve. During the Second World War the British administration, during seasons of scarcity, war-controlled prices of essential commodities and famine, arranged to distribute ration articles at controlled prices and saved lives. Why cannot Free India do what the imperial regime did? What has happened to our patriotism as our administration, at the Centre and in the States, have fundamentally turned anarchic and surrendered itself to the creamy layer?

The proprietariat can allow, but not extinguish, the proletariat’s right to life. At least 20 crore independent Indians, we are told, live below the hunger line. Mr. Prime Minister, you have the power and the expertise to make India an egalitarian society. Herbert Spenser wrote: “No one can be perfectly free till all are free; no one can be perfectly moral till all are moral; no one can be perfectly happy till all are happy.”

India, which was witness to the Buddha, made compassion to all living creatures a reality of governance. This country has countless gods and religions. Service to god is not obdurate obscurantism in the shrines. Theology cannot be allowed to become pathology. We are secular and therefore service to god is service to man. Vivekananda said: “I am socialist because half a loaf is better than none. No god is worth worshipping if He will not save life but slaughter it.”

Unfortunately, the Indian economy necessarily involves a desideratum in favour of the poor and against the robber. Otherwise our law will not be a haven for those below the hungry line:

The law locks up both man and woman

Who steals the goose from off the common

But lets the greater felon loose

Who steals the common from the goose.

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