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Look to the real leaders

June 15, 2005 16:00 IST
Seeing the principal Opposition party drowned in the discussion to decide whether 'Mr Partition' Mohammad Ali Jinnah was a secular or communal person was nauseatingly repulsive.

These leaders, the central office bearers, chief ministers and parliamentary board members were called to Delhi to discuss Jinnah and support their supremo. The money and time wasted on it was enormous, but it also shows an attitude to life and matters of national importance.

Equally hilarious was the extreme reaction of the so-called Hindu leaders using foul language to condemn something, which could have triggered a bomb in Pakistan instead. These worthies never speak when Hindu girls are burnt alive for dowry, when Hindu mothers are forced to kill a girl child in the womb, when pandas and pujaris loot gullible Hindu pilgrims and when Dalits, who are more Hindu then any of these fake 'upper castewallahs', are treated like animals.

The Advani crisis

So far no one has heard of such a conclave organised with this missionary zeal to discuss the strategy to strengthen infrastructure, basic education, drinking water for the villages, or plan to nourish party's ideology at the ground level.

For them, the ego-massage of their leader and 'reappraisal ' of Jinnah became a matter of 'national significance.'

On the contrary, I find we have been ignoring the real leaders and sources of inspiration because politics has acquired most of the space, rather undeservingly, on our national horizon.

Think of N R Narayana Murthy, a man who created an empire now worth seven thousand crore rupees.

Narayana Murthy on the essence of leadership

He told me that till his son matured to adulthood, they didn't have a television at home because unless they too stayed away from watching it, their son would not understand and it would hamper his studies. He still travels economy class and drives a Baleno or an Opel Astra.

Think of Faqir Chand Kohli, the father of Indian software. Or Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala, a true rishi who has inspired a technological revolution to change the face of rural India.

On the other side are politicians, who squander millions of the public's money. Leave aside creating wealth for the nation, they always travel always business class, own fleets of Mercedes, enjoy super rich status at home, run their party through their sons and daughters and still expect people to give them respect as they would give to a messiah.

Think of a farmer, who toils round the clock on his farm, waits for a good monsoon, takes his produce to the market and lives a meager life. He earns every paisa, yet his importance is less than a hundredth part of that of a corrupt, scandalous politician, who has no known source of income, never works hard, hardly pays income tax, owns a number of bungalows and cars, yet projects himself as a servant of the people.

We have forgotten to respect the real forces behind national life like teachers, artisans, engineers and technocrats.

Regardless of the party, all politicians behave like colonial masters of a subjugated people and hardly give any attention to improving basic services.

None of them would like to be treated at a government hospital because five star hospitals are always accessible to them. They never feel the need to improve the condition of primary education and village schools. Even general facilities like sewerage, bus routes, roads and power supply is better in the rich and affluent areas, and worst in the lower income group settlements.

While the Indian people have moved forward on their own, politicians are still trapped in a frozen time frame of yesteryear. Its time to show them the contempt they deserve and encourage a non-political leadership to emerge as genuine torchbearers of society.

I have seen young energetic professionals from Harvard or MIT joining the Swaminarayan order and serving in the tribal belt of Dharampur, a fresh MD from the Maulana Azad Medical College in Delhi going to serve a remote village near Haflong, Meghalaya, and a girl with an MBA from Nagpur joining the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram in Arunachal.

Mata Amritanandmayi's work for the downtrodden has inspired youngsters to come forward and do their bit, while the Swadhyaya Pariwar, despite internal wrangles, has led the youth, educated and modern, to reform religion and serve god through humanity.

The RSS has made the single largest contribution to national life by beginning a new tradition of social activism through seva, or service. By inspiring hundreds of highly skilled and professional workers to work silently in the distant areas of Andamans, the northeast, Jaisalmer and Nilgiri hills, running hospitals, blood banks, mobile dispensaries and adult education centers besides a large number of schools in the border areas and other disadvantaged regions.

After the Shankaracharya, Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar has emerged as the greatest inspiration to the youth for societal change. You may disagree with the RSS ideology, but try to see the devotion and service-oriented contribution they have made without distinguishing between sects and regions.

Hate never makes a youngster devote his life to a pursuit which brings only difficulties and hardships. It is the spark of a greater cause that brings a Jesuit from Belgium to work in Mizoram.

We may disagree with the end result of his services, yet can anyone deny the highest form of dedication for a cause dear to him?

Similarly a Hindu activist or a pracharak leaves his home and career to face the challenge of rebuilding his nation as envisaged by seers like Sri Aurobindo and Vivekananda.

Why should a sanyasi of the Ramakrishna Mission hailing from Kerala devote his life serving a non-descript tribe in an insurgency-infested hill tract? It is the call of the nobility present in each of us that drives him to leave the lure of the lucre and live an ascetic's life.

This pan-Indian attitude alone helps bind the nation.

On the other side, politicians of every hue and colour have helped create more divisions and never focused on a larger picture of country and society.

How many of the worthy politicians would like to ensure that more and more youngsters are attracted to study science in this international year of physics, being celebrated worldwide with great enthusiasm? Instead, they are busy in their own ugly chemistry.

Devoid of any vision and genuine concern for the advancement of society, they use religious symbols, sometimes Ram, sometimes Rambhaktas, sometimes Haj and a divisive Muslim card to further their vested interests.

All this has to go if we want to survive as a progressive nation eager to find its rightful place in the comity of the nations.

In this context I must mention a wonderful book written by former central minister Jagmohan, who was so honest and transparent that even his party couldn't tolerate him and pushed him to the forgotten margins.

The Soul and Structure of Governance in India (Allied) can be a new reference guide for a better and people-oriented polity and 'suraj' that is good governance.

Jagmohan has dwelt at length on the need to rekindle the power of India's mind and reawakening her soul through a number of reforms including taking inspiration from Vedanta. He has courageously pointed out that unless the quality of the people is improved, we cannot expect to better the quality of the Republic.

It is often said that we get the governance and the leaders we deserve, but after 57 years of independence, India certainly deserves more than what we have got so far.

Nirad C Chaudhuri on India after Independence

But if the people remain spineless, tolerant of all the evil deeds of their so-called leaders, the nation shall never be rejuvenated. It is the character and the courage of a citizen that determines a nation's character and its future.

'These days, as a major cause of poor governance, we often hear of the failures of the institutions-failure of the Executive, Parliament, Judiciary and other public and semi-public organiSations. But we rarely hear of the failure that lies at the root of all these failures, that is, the failure of "we, the people."', says Jagmohan. 'People as voters, leaders and holders of the constitutional offices alone are responsible for failures or thee successes of a nation.'

Jagmohan has given six steps pertaining to the mind and soul of India as an agenda for action.

These include 'improving the basic timbre that is people, according recognition to the power, profundity and purity to the mind that India once possessed, picking up threads of the reform movements of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, waging a relentless fight against the evils that have seeped deep into India's social system and providing the people with a moral compass by incorporating the principles of Vedanta in the Constitution of India.

Brave words indeed.

But given the present position of our politicians, the only hope that we can have is from non-political people like the Manmohan Singhs, Narayana Murthys and Ashok Jhunjhunwalas of this land.

Tarun Vijay edits the RSS weekly Panchjanya.

Tarun Vijay