National Progress: Possible With Good Leadership

by October 2, 2018 0 comments

National Progress: Possible With Good LeadershipWhen it comes to political or ideological intractability that eventually lead to chaos, India can no longer handle such a situation. It is important that leadership show maturity in every sphere to make sure the nation moves ahead.

I attended a three-day outreach programme organised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS ) in Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. This 90-year-old organisation wanted to put up before the nation — and all those opposed to it — its vision of and mission for the country. As I was to enter the precincts of the Vigyan Bhavan, media reporters asked me why I was there. I answered, because I am keen to know more about this organisation.  They went ahead with a few more queries, to which my simple response was that I was open to questions on learning and education, not on politics. Further, if any political party or organisation organises such an interaction, and I am invited, I will attend, and I am sure I would be a gainer. I am now a senior citizen but by learning more wherever and whenever I can is a part of growing up.

After spending three evenings listening to the sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, I was certainly a gainer in my comprehension of India’s social, cultural and political scenario. Bhagwat exuded self confidence and appeared self-assured all along the proceedings. He was in know of his facts, sound on his philosophical moorings and was energetically eager to move with the changing times.

As a teacher, I found his ‘performance’ a classic example of how to influence people and win friends. It was a superb articulation — no unnecessary sentence, no jargon, every word and sentence appeared duly weighted and whetted. Politicians of every shade and age, including the most die-hard critics of the RSS, would do well if they watch the three-day visuals of the orator who established an organic link with the audience without any apparent effort. They could emulate gainfully on how to convey their viewpoints to the audiences.

I am confident, many of them have already done that. Many critics were also invited but they probably felt unsure and did not attend; they were certainly losers. A couple of them with whom I could interact after the event, were even keen to know what happened. The manner in which Bhagwat handled the question answer session on the third evening, could impress anyone, irrespective of his ideological leanings. The responses were so clear, confident, and precise. There was not even an attempt to bypass any query, no matter how intrusive it was.

On the lighter side, there was a relaxing moment when Bhagwat was asked why the Sangathan Mantri of the BJP always came from the RSS? The ‘innocence’ afloat in the answer charmed everyone: “Because only they ask us to provide one. If others make a request, we shall consider.” One may disagree and genuinely attempt to decipher the meaning and interpretation of the statement, but it would be impossible not to be charmed by the manner of response to an intrusive query. Was this the main reason for the absence of political invitees who were afraid of being swept off their feet by Mohan Bhagwat face-to-face?

Politically and ideologically unconstrained senior citizens, concerned about the national, social cohesion and religious amity, often recall how after Independence, caste politics and politicisation of secularism was pursued by unscrupulous politicians, who just could not think beyond somehow, or anyhow, winning the next election.

Those in their 20s around 1955 still recall how they were convinced  that caste and religion would cease to be a factor in the national polity and also in the social structure within a couple of decades. The presence of Jai Prakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, Acharya Kripalani, Vinoba Bhave and others was so reassuring. Politicians, who had during the first two decades tasted power, had their own ideas. The very essence of practiced traditional secularism — equal respect for all religions — was swept under the carpet, Left-wing secularists emerged as the dominant intellectual group that controlled institutions.

Only those who thought alike could entry into the academia, others were declared communal and conservative. Secularism of their interpretation became the weapon to consolidate the Left hegemony in key institutions; everyone else was to be discarded. They just ignored the strength of the dialogical tradition that is one of the strongest pillars of the Indian civilisation. They ignored prashna-pratiprashna-pariprashna and even ridiculed the essence of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which led to a welcome of people of different religions, nationalities and ethnicities in India. Without that level of philosophical and intellectual advancement, the Ganga-Jamuni culture would never have flourished in India.

India had learnt much earlier than other civilisations how to ‘live together’ and respect diversities of every conceivable variety. When the term ‘secular’ was incorporated in the Preamble of the Constitution of India in 1976, its Hindi translation accepted was Panthnirpeksh and not Dharmnirpeksh. Proper and sincere comprehension of the implications of the difference between the two terms could have paved the way for social and religious cohesion, but that was never attempted.

Absence of transparency in public life and reluctance on the part of politicians to know more about their opponents and their ideas and intentions have now reached a disturbing stage. We all witness it when Parliament session is disturbed for weeks and months. The loss of mutual respect, unwillingness to listen to and interact with people with divergent shades of opinions and views, has led to a stage in which the invitation of the RSS is summarily rejected by the ‘secular’ Opposition.

They just forgot that the people were willing to listen to the RSS chief; millions remained glued to their television sets even in remote and rural/far-flung areas. Enough has been spoken about his speech at various levels, and there was a widespread consensus that no politician should have rejected the invitation, they could have shown the courtesy and courage to join and ask questions and seek clarification. They missed the chance. The nation would have benefited if an intense interaction had taken place. It would have generated the possibility of enhancing the level of discourse in social, cultural and political life of the nation.

If one refers to the great example of dialogical tradition represented by the Bhagavad Gita, Yudhisthir-Yaksh interaction, or the shastrarth between Adi Sankaracharya and Mandana Misra, most of the self-proclaimed secularists would look the other way.  They may even not be familiar with these examples, as most of the cultural context of India, its philosophical moorings and literature finds little place in school education.

However, it will be difficult for anyone to ignore what Mahatma Gandhi had written in the Harijan of April 29, 1933: “I would like to say to the diligent reader of my writings and to others who are interested in them that I am not at all concerned with appearing to be consistent. In my search for truth, I have discarded many ideas and learnt many new things. Old as I am, I have no feeling that I have ceased to grow inwardly or that my growth will stop at the dissolution of the flesh. What I am concerned with is my readiness to obey the call of truth, my God, from moment to moment, and, therefore, when anybody finds any inconsistency between any two writings of mine, if he has still faith in my sanity, he would do well to choose the later of the two on the same subject.”

When Bhagwat publicly declared that his organisation had moved ahead of the ‘bunch of thoughts’ era, brought out a new version and left out certain ‘thoughts’ that did not appear relevant to present realities, it can logically be viewed in light of the above quote of the Mahatma. As individuals grow up, so do organisations. Not all of them, though.

For every independent observer and objective interpreter of India’s development initiatives, the decline of the dialogical culture amongst politicians appears to be a big impediment in ameliorating the miseries of those still waiting at the end of the line for a better and dignified life.  Gandhiji had warned in 1922 in a letter that even if Swaraj comes now, four things shall weigh heavily on our people and they would not get happiness. He identified these four as —defects of elections, injustice, burden of administration and treachery of the rich. His words have proved prophetically accurate.

Gandhiji had warned in 1922 in a letter that even if Swaraj comes now, four things shall weigh very heavily on our people and they would not get happiness. He identified these four as: Defects of elections, injustice, burden of administration, and treachery of the rich. His words have proved prophetically accurate. In 1925, he had identified seven social sins which included ‘politics without principles’ and ‘wealth without work’. At present, these two appear to be organically linked. Politics of confrontation retards the advancement of the nation. Hence, every possible opportunity must be utilised to the hilt to bring people of varying political affiliations across the table, to sit together and talk to each other. Even if no tangible gain becomes visible, personal distrust and levels of debates would certainly rise in ample measure. India can no longer afford ideological/political ‘un-intractability’ and plunge itself into further chaos. Leadership in every sphere — social, cultural, political — must learn to live together. Trust begets trust. Let the leadership show maturity, talk to each other, and together, let the nation move ahead.

(The writer is the Indian Representative on the Executive Board of UNESCO)

Writer: JS Rajput

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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