A yatra that is the darn to repair India’s gashes

There have been measures that have hurt the citizenry and damaged the idea of Bharat as a country that was stitched together by visionaries, writes Kamal Haasan

Updated - December 26, 2022 09:33 pm IST

Published - December 26, 2022 12:08 am IST

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) leader Kamal Haasan during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, near Red Fort in New Delhi, on December 24, 2022.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) leader Kamal Haasan during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, near Red Fort in New Delhi, on December 24, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Editorials and articles written in the opinion section of The Hindu are by eclectic, eloquent editors and writers. For a change, I urge readers to listen to a high-school drop-out, an entrepreneur and an artist. Even the statesman Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, K. Kamaraj did not get this opportunity and I am honoured to do so, speaking to readers not with cleverness, but with his wisdom, even if it is second or third hand.

The essence of the Constitution

The Constitution of India is as important as the freedom struggle was for our country. Arrived at, after being discussed at length by representatives of India’s Constituent Assembly on the one hand and enlivened by the views and the experiences of our freedom fighting generation on the other, the Constitution was intended not only as a paediatric prescription for young India but also for the adult and ageing India as well.

It was a well-thought-out document, written not just by peoples’ representatives but also by qualified lawyers with a firm grounding in legal reasoning, theory, and a comparative sense of how Constitutions evolved in democracies elsewhere as well. Now, mere politicians are aspiring and daring to rewrite it and reverse the gains made at the birth of the Indian republic. Of course, constitutions need to be subject to revision and amendments, but these must be done without bias and through reason, by holding on to our independent nation’s founding principles; not by subverting them.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party leaders during the Bharat Jodo Yatra in New Delhi on December 24, 2022.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with party leaders during the Bharat Jodo Yatra in New Delhi on December 24, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

When I say this, I do this as a political centrist and whose centrism is sometimes mistaken as “opportunism”. Centrism-imbued varied thoughts and ways of life such as Buddha’s Dhammapada (the way of truth), the Thirukkural’s Naduvu Nilamai (equipoise) and Advaitha (non-dualism). They all celebrated a centrist philosophy.

The rationale

Why should we celebrate and join the Bharat Jodo Yatra? We have been witness to a time when several measures have hurt our citizenry. These include the hasty implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, the demonetisation debacle besides rising instances of caste and communal discrimination. The citizens’ hard-earned right to information has been diluted through devious illegalities. The judiciary has been sought to be stifled as the executive makes remarks that amount to questioning its independence.

Joining the Bharat Jodo Yatra and the march with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is an unbiased comment about the present situation perpetuated by a government. The party affiliations of the organisers of the march do not matter. I would have joined a similar march against the Emergency in the mid-1970s irrespective of the fact that my father was a former Congressman of the party led by Indira Gandhi.

Some intellectuals and richer segments of our population have sought to portray politics as a profession that is “infra dig”. This has led to thugs and opportunists emboldening themselves to enter electoral politics across the country, leading to rabid infections in the body politic. We need to beware of these infections and must imbibe the message that if we do not impact politics, politics will impact our lives mercilessly.

The idea and notion of Bharat as a country was stitched together by visionaries. I believe that it is the time, now, to darn the gashes that this country has suffered due to those who have sought to belittle and overturn that vision of our country. And the Bharat Jodo Yatra is that darn that will help us do so.

Kamal Haasan is an actor, politician and the founder of the Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM)

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