As the whole country views on television and reads in every newspaper the battle between Mr. Narendra Modi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi, I am only worried that we have actually come to this. We don’t care anymore about thought, kindness, honesty, action, responsibility, courage, leadership. We have one person who refuses to answer any question on the blood on his hands as Chief Minister and another who is being projected as a mature philosopher when we actually need a dynamic leader.
Recently at one of his many public appearances, Mr. Modi was asked whether he would take moral responsibility for the 2002 riots, to which he replied that he had already answered questions about the riots numerous times. But the same man has over the last few months been willing to answer time and again the same questions about his developed Gujarat.
Growth and humanity
Every time Mr. Modi’s name is discussed, the riots are a part of the narrative and the criticism is that we are trapping him within that event. But why not? Any person with some human essence must ask those questions time and again. Whether or not he was party to the violence is up to the courts to decide, but he was the Chief Minister of the State and has refused to say that he should have acted differently. How can we ever ignore that? In fact we should not. In my travels I have always met so many middle class Indians who think Mr. Modi is the Bill Gates of Indian politics. “Go to Gujarat and see the transformation, development, bridges, roads, IT companies, the speed of decision making and you will realise why he is the right person for us.” When I hear these statements I am filled with sadness that we as a society can easily erase people from our minds. We say that the courts have not convicted Mr. Modi, but we readily accuse someone else as being a criminal even when no verdict has been proclaimed. Essentially, economic growth seems to erase all sense of human decency.
I am also told that “after all the Muslims have also voted for him.” Honestly, I don’t care if all the Muslims in the world voted for him. I care that people died, not Muslims, Christians or Hindus. I am not aware of the voting patterns of Gujarat, that’s for psephologists. But I am aware that reasons for a minority community to behave in a certain way are usually driven by the behaviour of the dominant group. The “dominants” manipulate and coerce the weak to act in certain ways. The positive economic changes seen in the lives of the majority also influences the behavioural pattern of the minority. I am not saying these are the reasons but let us just keep this in mind.
We as human beings are built to empathise and feel for others. Let us not lose sight of this basic quality of humanity in the dream of economic comfort or seeming political “stability.” I would rather be poor than inhuman! Mr. Modi, I will not stop asking you this: “Will you take moral responsibility for the riots?” You owe this country an answer.
Point of trust
While this is one end of the political narrative, there exists another in the form of a smart, genuine young man who needs to know what he is doing. Someone has to tell Rahul Gandhi that he is not a philosopher and India doesn’t need one in him! We need a strong individual who is honest and willing to show courage. He need not constantly mention the problems of the political and bureaucratic class. We are only too aware of its failings, and are constantly made aware of them. We do not need a “magic wand” but someone with a will to change things and has not until date shown any will. Mr. Gandhi has floated thoughts on “what ails Indian society.” So, what next? There seems to be a stupor hovering over him, a cloud of inertia and intellectual lethargy. The country can ill afford a slumber of ideas, courage and determination in a man who is meant to be waking the nation up. What one misses in Mr. Gandhi is not earnestness of intent, not sincerity, but a crucial breaking of the trust barrier, a totally convincing breakthrough in winning the nation’s trust. He can fight all his political battles with Mr. Modi or anyone else but first he must be willing to fight the battle of his life for this country. Unless the nation sees him do that how can it entrust its future to him? His advisers don’t seem to see that the absence of a trust breakthrough in Mr. Gandhi is what Mr. Modi is cashing in on and substituting with his own brand of “I can do it” in surplus. India needs a good human being at its helm but also a proactive person with serious, practical ideas of how to change this nation. We have in him an exhaustingly long prologue; what we need now is the main action.
Watching this presidential style battle being played out in the media on an everyday basis has only further increased my disappointment in us as a society. Urban India is intoxicated by these two people, and the so-called “real India” is being manipulated by the same individuals. The end result is that India seems to have reached a political cul-de-sac. What other options do we have? We can not only look for other options but can actually force a change from these two. It is up to us to demand decency and human empathy, responsibility-owning from Mr. Modi and courage and determination from Mr. Rahul Gandhi. If neither have it in them then they don’t deserve our votes, and nor do their parties, bereft as they are of ideas for change.
(T.M. Krishna is a Carnatic musician.)