Nurturing Young Minds

Nurturing Young Minds

Monday, November 12, 2012

Call of History: Generating devastating energy through the force of fusion

India seems to be heading for another tryst with destiny: tryst of a kind that may be unheard of in Indian history, when the people of the country will pit themselves against the establishment run by men and women elected by their own ballots.  A chapter of this saga has already been scripted by the blood spilled by the bullets of people that have displaced the establishment from nearly one third of the rural landscape of India under the banner of the ultra-leftists. The echo of the shots of their bullets has, however, failed to enter the deaf ears of the men and women sitting in parliament and the legislatures, and to make them see sense. The bullets have failed because the establishment has a thousand bullets to match every anti-establishment bullet. This is why Gandhi had cautioned: “They want to drag us to a plane where they have the weapons and we do not; we have to bring the battle to a plane where we have the weapons and they have not.” This message of the Mahatma reverberates with equal resonance across the length and breadth of the country even today.

Sundar Lal Bahuguna fasts and fails: the Tehri dam is built. Medha fasts and fails: the Sardar Sarovar Dam rises in height. Anna fasts and fails: the Lokpal bill is put on the backburner. Ramdev fasts and fails: the black money stashed away in foreign banks is not brought back to India. The message is loud and clear: revolution and macro-level change will only come through sending people with integrity and vision to the parliament and legislatures. In other words, the route to revolution lies essentially through politics.

But honest and capable people cannot go to the parliament and state legislatures because of the faulty political and electoral architecture of today that make money and muscle power decisive factors in winning elections. Neither the NDA nor the UPA have tried to change this architecture because their members sitting in parliament and state legislatures, who were expected to bring about the systemic changes, would kill their own chances of getting reelected if they changed the system. Therefore, a new political party with a chain of revolutionary leadership driving it has to come up that could provide an alternative to the existing corrupt political outfits.

In the wake of this realization, there are social activists’ groups that have already decided to take to politics. There is a group, for example in Andhra Pradesh, that has already done this several years back, but has been unable to send its men in any significant numbers to the state assembly. There are other groups readying to join the arena with honest intentions and a constructive agenda.

But all fail to discern the writing on the wall: Nothing will happen unless all come together on one political platform, smothering their individual and organizational egos, and subordinating the personal and organizational aspirations to the aspirations of the people of India. If multiple parties are formed, votes will invariably get split, leading again to nowhere.

Longing for leadership and positions of power and identity is nothing new. It is the nature of ordinary mortals. But ordinary mortals do not bring lasting revolutions – much less a non-violent revolution. Let us take a leaf out of the Indian national movement and the life of its leader M. K. Gandhi. On his final return from South Africa in 1915 Gandhi got actively associated with the Indian National Congress, but he never sought a position of formal authority in the Congress. When he initially attended a Congress session he claimed no position of power in the organization. Instead, he asked for a humble and entirely non-political job: the job of cleaning the toilets at the convention. In 1921, he was given “full executive authority” by the Congress to lead the mass movement. Still he did not agree to become the president of the Congress. He became the president of the Indian National Congress only once, in 1924, and never again. And yet Congress worked under his leadership till India won Independence.

He never staked his claim to leadership; he was persuaded to be the leader.

The message is loud and clear. Join a new national political outfit seeking to be a servant and not the master. Negotiate for no post or formal positions. Work your way upward, if you so want, through your work and service. Come together unconditionally to form the new political alternative, and then let the people in the party decide from time to time who could and should lead.

Coming together is easier said than done. Every group wants to change the country on its own, and alone. No group or individual thinks it is less important than anybody else. Under these circumstances, one way to go about forging a truly national alternative is to follow this path: A respectable organization, which is not yet in the arena, should come forward as a mediator and counselor. It should talk to the different players going to enter the political arena, who are non-communal and believe in non-violence, and, in consultation with them, should set up an exalted ‘jury’ of five eminent non-political citizens who would not be related to the emerging players in the field. It these players do not cooperate, the jury should still go ahead. It should set up a website and invite online and offline applications of individuals for joining the new national political outfit with their CVs containing not only their qualifications but also their record of social service and contribution to the society. The jury should also put in brief the basic ideological principles of the proposed political party on the Net around which the people who broadly agree with the ideology could gather.  It may be remembered that people who are ideologically poles apart cannot constitute a coherent and lasting political group. Obviously, not all self-respecting individuals would like to ‘apply’. Therefore, people may also be asked to recommend suitable individuals they might know. From the most eligible persons, after due inquiry and deliberations, the first 500 people from different states may be selected by the jury to form the first core of the national party.

As said, few eminent people with integrity and vision would ‘apply’ or stand in a queue to join the new political alternative. They have to be invited and persuaded. When Gandhi went to Bihar, he inquired about persons who would be bright, honest and selfless. Among the few names that he got, one was of Dr. Ranjendra Prasad. He visited his house, but Dr. Prasad was not there. He left a message that he liked meeting the remarkable gentleman. Dr. Prasad was quick to join Gandhi in his work. When Gandhi went to see a group of people in a Gujrat club, they were drinking and playing cards. On learning that Gandhi was coming, all of them concealed their bottles, but Ballabh Bhai Patel did not. Gandhi knew he had struck upon a national leader with great strength and conviction. He invited him. The jury, assisted by the organization that sets up the jury, has to undertake a similar treasure hunt.

Finally when the first 500 core members of the new political outfit are in place, the Jury will be dismantled  and these 500 people will take over, though the Jury will, before being dismantled, facilitate an election for the Party President and the Executive Committee. The first 500 people will vote to elect their leader and the working committee, and will also finalize the agenda, and then launch themselves on the historic voyage.

As regards ideology, our own national movement is the best example. Those who were ideologically poles apart could not work together, like Gandhi and Bhagat Singh and, later, Gandhi and Subhash. But those who were not poles apart, even if they were ideologically not identical, like Gandhi and Nehru, worked together. Tilak and Gokhle, and their ‘Garam Dal’ and ‘Naram Dal’, were also quite different in approach but they cannot be said to have been ideologically poles apart.  The then Congress Party was in many ways an umbrella organization, sheltering within itself radical socialists, traditionalists and even Hindu and Muslim conservatives. What held them together was the bond of patriotism, and a belief in non-violence in the sense of not recognizing the need for an armed struggle, which can even today bind together widely disparate groups. History is calling. The call must be heeded by all – left, right and center.

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