India and the ‘Grammar of Anarchy’

28/08/2011

The Wall Street Journal

The antics of an anticorruption guru flout the constitution.

Indian police prevented anticorruption activist Anna Hazare from holding a protest in New Delhi on Tuesday, arrested him and detained 2,600 of his followers for a few hours. He was released yesterdaym, after police let him begin a 15-day hunger strike. The uproar over Mr. Hazare has Indian elites tweeting that the country faces a constitutional crisis, but the real cause of this debacle is a lack of government will and direction.

Mr. Hazare’s supporters encourage comparisons to the emergency rule in 1975, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi suspended constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties. But if anyone wants to undermine India’s constitution today, it is Mr. Hazare. He demands that parliament create the unelected post of ombudsman, chosen by a panel of worthies, with sweeping powers to haul up any public official on graft charges.

Other countries have benefited from special graft-busting bodies, but they are always politically accountable in some way. Mr. Hazare wants to bypass the hard work of institution-building and put ultimate power in one person’s hands. But India got into its corruption mess by vesting too much power in public officials in the first place. Who will guard the guardian who engages in politically motivated prosecutions?

India Today Group/Getty ImagesGovernment critic Anna Hazare.

1hazare

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could have avoided this confrontation had he acted forcefully when a spate of graft scandals, including an estimated loss of some $40 billion from the allegedly corrupt sale of telecom airwaves, made headlines last year. The public’s outrage was an invitation to push through economic and administrative reforms to curtail the power of politicians and bureaucrats. Instead, the government put a few ministers behind bars and went back to business as usual.

Self-anointed leaders of civil society have stepped into this vacuum—and led the debate astray. Amid much fanfare, Mr. Hazare, who says he is inspired by Mohandas Gandhi, went on a hunger strike in April to push for the national ombudsman. The government should have resisted this idea of an inquisitor in Gandhian clothing from the start, but it succumbed to Mr. Hazare’s blackmail. At least the government later had the sense to insist that the prime minister be exempt from the ombudsman’s purview.

Such compromises riled Mr. Hazare, who sought to protest in Delhi again. He was thwarted in the past month by police regulations. His NGO finally secured a permit but refused to accept police conditions on the size and duration of the protest. These rules may be too onerous, but that’s for the courts to decide.

Meantime, Prime Minister Singh has allowed his opponents to shift the debate to the right to protest. The real issue should be Mr. Hazare’s demagogic tactics. An open political system like India’s resolves differences through the ballot box, but Mr. Hazare is intent on forcing the issue by threatening to fast to the death. On Tuesday, a day after the country’s 64th anniversary of independence, he called for a “second freedom struggle.” He repeated that call yesterday, leading a procession in New Delhi after emerging from prison.

Democratically elected officials shouldn’t bow to Mr. Hazare’s antics, which are the kind that the architect of India’s constitution B.R. Ambedkar called in 1949 “nothing but the grammar of anarchy.” Whether or not Mr. Hazare desists, Mr. Singh can propose an agenda that combats corruption and abides by India’s constitution. That’s the best way to check the country’s slide into disorder.

Courtesy: WSJ


Whither Parliamentary Democracy In India?

03/07/2011

P R Dubhashi

Fasts of Anna Hazare regarding the passing of the Lokpal Bill and Baba Ramdev against corruption and events that followed have raised fundamental questions regarding the functioning of parliamentary democracy in India. The 97-hour fast by Anna Hazare at Jantar Mantar which evoked huge response of people in Delhi and all over the country, compelled the government to concede his demand to constitute a joint committee of ‘Ministers and members of Civil Society’ to formulate a draft by the end of June 30 on the basis of the draft formulated by the government and the one by the civil society. After some initial smooth sailing, serious differences have arisen, as could only be expected, regarding different issues such as the inclusion of the Prime Minister and judiciary within the ambit of the Lokpal. While this was going on, Baba Ramdev began his fast at Ramlila Ground (after permission was denied to hold it at Jantar Mantar) regarding the wider issue of elimination of corruption and black money. To dissuade the Baba from embarking on the fast, four Ministers of the Union Government, headed by no less than Pranab Mukherji, went to the airport to meet him but the Baba was adamant on his fast. Thousands of his followers, young and old, women and children, assembled in the huge pandal specially erected for the purpose at Ramlila Ground to fast in sympathy. The exchanges between the two parties nevertheless continued. When Kapil Sibal, the Minister negotiating with the Baba, publicly announced that the Baba had agreed to give up ‘tapa’ after three days, the Baba felt he was compromised and exposed, while his followers were still coming from all over the country to join the fast. The Baba immediately hardened his stand and announced that he would continue his fast till the government issued an ordinance to declare as ‘public asset’ the black money stashed abroad in the overseas banks. The government accused the Baba of betrayal. Past midnight on June 4, 2011, the police of the Rapid Action Force of the State Government, armed with teargas and lathi, swooped on the sleeping congregation while trying to arrest the Baba. A drama followed, the Baba escaped from the Pandal but to the relief of the government was apprehend by the Delhi Police while running away surrounded by his female followers himself disguised in female dress. More important, sleeping men were rudely woken up by police who burst teargas shells and resorted to lathi charge even on women and children. As many as 70 injured persons were admitted to hospitals and some to intensive care units. A particularly bad case was Rajbala who was paralysed. The nocturnal crackdown was condemned not only by the Baba’s followers but people all over the country. L.K. Advani, the leader of the BJP, said that the crackdown reminded of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre by General Dyer during the coloneal days. Anna Hazare and ‘Civil Society’ activists condemned the crack-down as ‘kalank’, a blot on humanity and democracy. Shanti Bhushan, the senior lawyer, demanded that the Union Government should resign. Government representatives tried to defend the action. First Sibal claimed that none was injured. But when seventy injured persons were admitted in hospitals his claim was found to be not correct. After waiting for a day following the crackdown, the Prime Minister said that the incident was ‘unfortunate’ but in the situation that developed, it was ‘unavoidable’. The Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, took a press conference even to declare that the crackdown was necessary for the maintenance of ‘Law and Order’. None was convinced. When the crackdown was described as a panicky action of a weak vacillating government, it was asserted that the plan for removing the Baba, if necessary by force, was already decided upon. This was proof enough that the crackdown was not a reaction to a situation but a premeditated coldblooded assault on defence-less people. Then there was an attempt to malign the Baba’s fast as instigated by the RSS which Rahul Gandhi, in a contro-versial statement, had equated with SIMI! Chidambaram cited an intelligence report to support the allegation. The presence of the ‘notorious’ Sadhvi Rithambhara on the dais with Ramdev Baba was a further proof of the ‘communal’ nature of the Baba’s fast. The govern-ment was not prepared to accept that the fight against corruption and blackmarket cannot be curbed by such allegations. Actually only a few days earlier the Ministers had gone to the airport to receive the Baba despite the knowledge of the intelligence report. The Congress party spokesman first tried to distance itself from the government and objected to the senior Ministers going to the airport to receive the Baba giving the impression that the party and government were working at cross-purposes. Why were the government Ministers trying to placate Baba? They had found Anna a hard nut to crack. They felt that the egotist Baba would be more manageable and vulnerable. When this did not happen within the time limit contemplated by the government they suddenly reversed the gear and took aggressive action in the form of the nocturnal crackdown. Ramdev Baba continued his fast even after he was shifted by the government from Ramlila Ground to Patanjali Ashram in Haridwar. After days of fasting his health seriously deteriorated and he had to be shifted by the BJP State Government to Dehradun Hospital (the Union Government had washed off its hands once he was shifted to Patanjali Ashram). Even in hospital, Baba continued his fast. It was left to Shri Shri Ravi Shankar to persuade him to give up his fast after nine days. It was stated on behalf of the Baba that his fight against black money would continue. In the meanwhile Digvijay Singh, the General Secretary of the Congress party, publicly accused the Baba of money-laundering and demanded that the vast accumulation of wealth exceeding Rs 1000 crores should be investigated. Even while he was fasting, the Baba publicly announced details of his wealth. Anna was also subjected to maligning by Digvijay who alleged of his association with the RSS in view of the fact that the picture of Hindmata displayed in course of his fast was similar to that of the RSS. Touched to the quick, Anna angrily stated that Digvijay should be sent to a lunatic asylum. He wrote to Sonia Gandhi complaining about the smear campaign against him and demanded evidence to prove his association with the RSS. The public discourse is obviously getting shriller and shriller. After surrendering to Anna’s demand of a joint committee and placating the Baba by four Ministers going to the airport, the Congress leaders and UPA Government have taken a hard line. In an interview at Kolkata, Pranab Mukherjee stated that the civil society movement is undermining democracy and the elected government at the Centre. Parliament is supreme to pass the law and a handful ‘civil society’ activists cannot dictate terms to a government which has the confidence of Parliament. (The Times of India, June 13, 2011) The emerging political scenario is worrisome. When the country is facing major challenges like terrorism, violent Maoist movement, resistance to land acquisition by people, deteriorating law and order situation, hostile Chinese action on the northern Himalayan border and major corruption scandals, leading to loss of confidence of foreign investors, instead of taking a united national stand in firmly dealing with these problems, the nation is engulfed in intensive conflicts. The future of the joint committee on Lokpal seems to be dismal. No consensus is likely to emerge. The government may even decide to wind up the work of the committee. And even if a ‘final’ draft would be ready by June and introduced in Parliament, the passing of the Bill is likely to be no smooth sailing and may not be passed by August 15, the date by which Anna insists it should be passed or else he would again go on fast. The government would not allow the kind of response Anna’s fast had at Jantar Mantar. The government’s attempt to communalise the Baba’s movement against corruption was an attempt to drive a wedge between the communal Baba and the ‘Gandhian’ Anna. The civil society activists were earlier not enthusiastic about the Baba but once the nocturnal crackdown on the defenceless men, women and children took place, the two sides forgot the differences and came closer to each other. The civil society activists used strongest words to condemn the crackdown. The BJP declared that the government was bringing back the Emergency days and the party would organise nationwide protests against corruption, blackmarketing and suppression of fundamental rights of the citizens to express opinion through peaceful demonstrations. The Congress party in reply decided to organise a national movement against fundamentalism and communalism embodied in the BJP, RSS and allied organisations. But for the government more serious than the challenges of the BJP, Leftist parties and regional parties like the SP which spoke against the noctural crackdown on a peaceful assembly of people, was the 15 days notice issued by the Vacation Bench of the Supreme Court to the Union Home Secretary, Delhi State Government and the Delhi Commissioner of Police to explain the crackdown. Chidambaram has blithely stated that the Delhi Police will file the affidavit forgetting that the Supreme Court is not likely to be satisfied with the explanation of the State Government and will also hold the Union Home Ministry, if not the Union Home Minister and the Prime Minister themselves, accountable. Law and Order POLITICIANS in power are often inclined to pass on the buck on ‘law and order’ matters to the police forgetting that the issues behind any serious law and order situation have to be handled well on time by the politicians in power and the civil servants who work under them. In the present case the issues of corruption and black economy and the passing of the Lokpal Bill have been long neglected and not tackled with any sense of urgency and sincerity. The most glaring instance of this was the fact that the Lokpal Bill has been pending since 1968, that is, over the last fortytwo years. The mega scams relating to the 2G spectrum, Commonwealth Games and Adarsh Society apartment in Mumbai, were attributed to politicians in power like Union Ministers and Chief Ministers. Even after the spectrum scam was exposed by the CAG, Kapil Sibal, in additional charge of the Telecommuni-cation Ministry, brazenly stated that there was no loss to the public exchequer and attacked the CAG for giving a wrong report alleging a presumptive loss of Rs 1,76,000 crores to the public exchequer. The Prime Minister defended Minister Raja responsible for the 2G scam for a period of over two years. Suresh Kalmadi was allowed to run the show of the Commonwealth Games despite the fact that he was accused in corrupt deals six months before the Games. The media gave wide publicity to these scams and the nation was outraged at the studied inability to prevent and control corruption. The Finance Minister doggedly refused to disclose the names of those whose funds were stashed abroad citing the secrecy clause of the taxation evasion agreements with foreign govern-ments. People started losing confidence in the government, and their pent-up anger was articulated by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev through their fasts which evoked nationwide response. Even after the fast started and people gathered, politicians of the ruling party did not care to meet the people and convince them about the sincerity of the government. The government must actively communicate with the people to prevent a popular agitation going out of hand instead of letting loose the police. If serious consequences follow in the shape of injury and loss of lives, the police are exposed to judicial enquiries. The politicians and administrators mostly remain aloof, when they should squarely be blamed for allowing the law and order situation to drift and assume serious proportions. When we became independent we declared that the ‘police state’ of the British Raj will be replaced by the ‘welfare state’ of the people’s government. But in free India police raj seems to have come back with a vengeance. Legitimacy of Elected Government AFTER some initial hesitation, the Congress has decided to go on the offensive. They are asserting that the Congress and its allies have been voted to power by the people and the Opposition parties and ‘civil society’ activists have no business to destabilise them through their agitations and by people like Hazare and Ramdev Baba going on fast to coerce thew government. How far is the argument valid? It is true that the government has every right to decide on legislation, policies and programmes. All the same it is also the duty of the Opposition to oppose actions by the government through constitutional means. The government should recognise the legitimacy of the Opposition to oppose as much as the Opposition should concede the right of the government to govern. But if the government treats the Opposition with contempt and gives short shrift to the reasonable demands of the Opposition, the Opposition gets frustrated and resorts to action which immobilises the functioning of Parliament. This was what happened to Parliament in the last winter session. The whole session was washed out. Eventually the demand of the Opposition was conceded before the Budget session could go on smoothly. If this had been done at the beginning of the winter session, the nation would not have had to suffer a non-functioning Parliament. For this the government and the Opposition are equally responsible. What about the people? Should they helplessly suffer an inept or corrupt gtovernment? Have they not the right to call the government to question in between the elections? Do the duties of the citizens end once they have voted? Surely that is not so. Even in between elections, the government is accountable to the people and the people should be able to express their dissatisfaction through all means allowed by the Constitution. The active groups of citizens can take the lead in mobilising public opinion through all means allowed by the Constitution. This does not amount to ‘backmailing’ of an elected government as is alleged by some Congress spokesmen like Digvijay Singh. Hazare’s reply was that if fast and dharna amount to blackmail then he will ‘blackmail’ the government. In this context it is necessary to recall what Dr Ambedkar, the principal architect of the Constitution, said in his address to the Constituent Assembly—“We must hold fast to the constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic goals. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It also means we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and Satyagraha. When constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for unconstitutional methods. Sooner these methods are abandoned, the better for us.” Dr Ambedkar’s warning was prophetic. He feared that the Gandhian legacy will be continued even after the government starts functioning as per the Constitution of the Indian Republic. But the government also holds the responsibility of running the government in a transparent, open manner without making an ugly display of arrogance of power. As Hazare reminded, the government. Ministers and legislators are servants of the people; the people are not their servants. Unfortunately our politicians have became so arrogant and self-serving that they have forgotten the basic premise of democracy that it is the bounden duty of politicians in power to serve the people with sincerity, honesty and dedication. If the current agitation teaches this lesson to the government and politicians, its purpose would be served. But if the government resorts to repression and intolerance of any Opposition, makes all kinds of defamatory statements against those who oppose them, if public opinion is stifled and evils like rampant corruption are allowed free play, the future of the Indian parliamentary democracy may be very dismal Formerly Secretary to the Government of India and Vice-Chancellor of Goa University, Dr Dubhashi is currently the Chairman, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Pune Kendra. His e-mail is: dubhashi@giaspn01. vsnl.net.in

http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article2868.html


Reforming the Hindus

09/01/2011

RAMACHANDRA GUHA

THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

By contrast, the Nehru Ambedkar relationship has been consigned to obscurity.

THREE men did most to make Hinduism a modern faith. Of these the first was not recognised as a Hindu by the Shankaracharyas; the second was not recognised as a Hindu by himself; the third was born a Hindu but made certain he would not die as one.

These three great reformers were Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and B.R. Ambedkar. Gandhi and Nehru, working together, helped Hindus make their peace with modern ideas of democracy and secularism. Gandhi and Ambedkar, working by contrasting methods and in opposition to one another, made Hindus recognise the evils and horrors of the system of untouchability. Nehru and Ambedkar, working sometimes together, sometimes separately, forced Hindus to grant, in law if not always in practice, equal rights to their women.

The Gandhi-Nehru relationship has been the subject of countless books down the years. Books on the Congress, which document how these two made the party the principal vehicle of Indian nationalism; books on Gandhi, which have to deal necessarily with the man he chose to succeed him; books on Nehru, which pay proper respect to the man who influenced him more than anyone else. Books too numerous to mention, among which I might be allowed to single out, as being worthy of special mention, Sarvepalli Gopal’s Jawaharlal Nehru, B.R. Nanda’s Mahatma Gandhi, and Rajmohan Gandhi’sThe Good Boatman.

In recent years, the Gandhi-Ambedkar relationship has also attracted a fair share of attention. Some of this has been polemical and even petty; as in Arun Shourie’s Worshipping False Gods (which is deeply unfair to Ambedkar), and Jabbar Patel’s film “Ambedkar” (which is inexplicably hostile to Gandhi). But there have also been some sensitive studies of the troubled relationship between the upper caste Hindu who abhorred Untouchability and the greatest of Dalit reformers. These include, on the political side, the essays of Eleanor Zelliott and Denis Dalton; and on the moral and psychological side, D.R. Nagaraj’s brilliant little book The Flaming Feet.

By contrast, the Nehru-Ambedkar relationship has been consigned to obscurity. There is no book about it, nor, to my knowledge, even a decent scholarly article. That is a pity, because for several crucial years they worked together in the Government of India, as Prime Minister and Law Minister respectively.

Weeks before India became independent, Nehru asked Ambedkar to join his Cabinet. This was apparently done at the instance of Gandhi, who thought that since freedom had come to India, rather than to the Congress, outstanding men of other political persuasions should also be asked to serve in Government. (Thus, apart from Ambedkar, the Tamil businessman R.K. Shanmukham Chetty, likewise a lifelong critic of the Congress, was made a member of the Cabinet, Finance Minister, no less.)

Ambedkar’s work on the Constitution is well known. Less well known are his labours on the reform of Hindu personal laws. Basing himself on a draft prepared by Sir B. N. Rau, Ambedkar sought to bring the varying interpretations and traditions of Hindu law into a single unified code. But this act of codification was also an act of radical reform, by which the distinctions of caste were made irrelevant, and the rights of women greatly enhanced.

Those who want to explore the details of these changes are directed to Mulla’s massive Principles of Hindu Law (now in its 18th edition), or to the works of the leading authority on the subject, Professor J.D.M. Derrett. For our purposes, it is enough to summarise the major changes as follows; (1) For the first time, the widow and daughter were awarded the same share of property as the son; (2) for the first time, women were allowed to divorce a cruel or negligent husband; (3) for the first time, the husband was prohibited from taking a second wife; (4) for the first time, a man and woman of different castes could be married under Hindu law; (5) for the first time, a Hindu couple could adopt a child of a different caste.

These were truly revolutionary changes, which raised a storm of protest among the orthodox. As Professor Derrett remarked, “every argument that could be mustered against the protest was garnered, including many that cancelled each other out”. Thus “the offer of divorce to all oppressed spouses became the chief target of attack, and the cry that religion was in danger was raised by many whose real objection to the Bill was that daughters were to have equal shares with sons, a proposition that aroused (curiously) fiercer jealousy among certain commercial than among agricultural classes”.

In the vanguard of the opposition was the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). In a single year, 1949, the RSS organised as many as 79 meetings in Delhi where effigies of Nehru and Ambedkar were burnt, and where the new Bill was denounced as an attack on Hindu culture and tradition.

A major leader of the movement against the new Bill was a certain Swami Karpatri. In speeches in Delhi and elsewhere, he challenged Ambedkar to a public debate on the new Code. To the Law Minister’s claim that the Shastras did not really favour polygamy, Swami Karpatri quoted Yagnavalkya: “If the wife is a habitual drunkard, a confirmed invalid, a cunning, a barren or a spendthrift woman, if she is bitter-tongued, if she has got only daughters and no son, if she hates her husband, (then) the husband can marry a second wife even while the first is living.” The Swami supplied the precise citation for this injunction: the third verse of the third chapter of the third section of Yagnavalkya’s Smriti on marriage. He did not however tell us whether the injunction also allowed the wife to take another husband if the existing one was a drunkard, bitter-tongued, a spendthrift, etc.

But there were also some respectable opponents of the new Code, who included Rajendra Prasad, who in January 1950 became the President of India. In 1950 and 1951 several attempts were made to get the Bill passed. However, the opposition was so intense that it had to be dropped. Ambedkar resigned from the Cabinet in disgust, saying that Nehru had not the “earnestness and determination” required to back the Bill through to the end.

In truth, Nehru was waiting for the first General Elections. When these gave him and the Congress a popular mandate, he re-introduced the new Code, not as a single Bill but as several separate ones dealing with Marriage and Divorce, Succession, Adoption, etc. Nehru actively canvassed for these reforms, making several major speeches in Parliament and bringing his fellow Congressmen to his side.

In 1955 and 1956 these various Bills passed into law. Soon afterwards Ambedkar died. Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Nehru remarked that he would be remembered above all “as a symbol of the revolt against all the oppressive features of Hindu society”. But Ambedkar, said Nehru, “will be remembered also for the great interest he took and the trouble he took over the question of Hindu law reform. I am happy that he saw that reform in a very large measure carried out, perhaps not in the form of that monumental tome that he had himself drafted, but in separate bits”.

As I have said, by the strict canons of orthodoxy, Gandhi and Nehru were lapsed Hindus; Ambedkar no Hindu at all. Yet, by force of conviction and strength of character, they did more good to Hindus and Hinduism than those who claimed to be the true defenders of the faith.

Ramachandra Guha is a historian and writer based in Bangalore.
E-mail him at ramguha@vsnl.com

http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/mag/2004/07/18/stories/2004071800120300.htm


Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil

29/10/2010
The slave’s dream
By Jawed Naqvi
Thursday, 28 Jan, 2010
Chief Minister of Gujrat, Narendra Modi’s administration reinforces an Indian variant of apartheid. –Photo by AFP

“Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.” Arundhati Roy? Wrong. It’s Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the Dalit leader who wrote India’s republican constitution 60 years ago.

Going by Ambedkar’s expressed fears, the Indian republic is like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Slave’s Dream. It was created by a people that were subjugated by colonialism and its republican ideals were shaped by a human rights pioneer who rose from the lowest layers of the country’s caste heap, a form of slavery in some ways more degrading than apartheid.

India celebrates its Republic Day each year with an hour-long display of military hardware, which of late has included dummies of nuclear-tipped missiles. The accompanying convoy of floats showcasing the country’s cultural variety (and humour) with everything ranging from ayurvedic massages to tribal dances, to harvest festivals is a more realistic sample of the country’s anarchy and depth than imported military arsenal, which guzzles depleted resources, annoys neighbours and contributes to keeping millions of Indians in penury and poor health.

Ambedkar’s fear of an inhospitable soil that deters rather than nurtures democracy if left to itself has been vindicated by the country’s sharp tilt to the right since 1990. His most entrenched detractors belong to the Hindu right, but the exigencies of the country’s caste arithmetic, which shores up the parliamentary system, compels them to woo his followers, if not his legacy.

That’s why it remained unclear on Tuesday, as to which was a bigger affront to India’s democracy — the inability of the state for the first time in 19 years to hoist the Indian flag in the alienated precincts of Srinagar’s Lal Chowk or a vaudeville staged by the chief minister of Gujarat who carried a giant replica of the Indian constitution on elephant back to display his sudden fondness for the rule of law.

“This is a historic moment for Gujarat, as the procession of the constitution is being taken out for the first time in Indian history,” Chief Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed not without dollops of irony. There was no remorse in his tone over the worst anti-Muslim pogrom his state witnessed, and for which he is being investigated.

Ambedkar had perhaps anticipated Modi’s antics, whose administration reinforces an Indian variant of apartheid, in which Muslims and Dalits have been driven to live in hidebound ghettoes. Let’s hear what Ambedkar had to say about a Republic Day he had helped create.

“On 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics, we will have equality and in social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one-man one-value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of democracy which this Constituent Assembly has so laboriously built up.”

“There is no nation of Indians in the real sense of the world. It is yet to be created. In believing we are a nation, we are cherishing a great delusion. How can people divided into thousands of castes be a nation? The sooner we realise that we are not yet a nation, in a social and psychological sense of the world, the better for us.”

“… My definition of democracy is — a form and a method of government whereby revolutionary changes in the social life are brought about without bloodshed. That is the real test. It is perhaps the severest test. But when you are judging the quality of the material you must put it to the severest test. Democracy is not merely a form of government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards our fellow men…”

“A democratic form of government presupposes a democratic form of a society. The formal framework of democracy is of no value and would indeed be a misfit if there was no social democracy. It may not be necessary for a democratic society to be marked by unity, by community of purpose, by loyalty to public ends and by mutuality of sympathy.”

“But it does unmistakably involve two things. The first is an attitude of mind, and attitude of respect and equality towards their fellows. The second is a social organisation free from rigid social barriers. Democracy is incompatible and inconsistent with isolation and exclusiveness resulting in the distinction between the privileged and the unprivileged.”

“What we must do is not to content ourselves with mere political democracy. We must make our political democracy a social democracy as well. Political democracy cannot last unless there is at the base of it a social democracy. What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognises liberty, equality and fraternity as the principles of life. These principles of liberty, equality and fraternity are not to be treated as separate items. They form a union in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy. Liberty cannot be divorced from equality, nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity.”

“… On 26th January, 1950, India will be an independent country. What would happen to her independence? Will she maintain or will she lose it again? This is the first thought that comes to my mind. It is not that India was never an independent country. The point is that she once lost the independence she had. Will she lose it a second time? It is this thought which makes me most anxious for the future. What perturbs me greatly is the fact that not only has India once before lost her independence, but she lost it by treachery of some of her own people.”

“Will history repeat itself? It is this thought which fills me with anxiety. … Will Indians place the country above their creed or creed above their country? I do not know. But this much is certain that if the parties place creed above country, our independence will be put in jeopardy a second time and probably be lost forever. This eventuality we all must resolutely guard against. We must be determined to defend our independence with the last drop of our blood.”

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.
jawednaqvi@gmail.com

http://news.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/columnists/14-jawed-naqvi-the-slaves-dream-810-zj-05