Mohan Murti

Tipping point for change?

Updated on: Jun 12, 2011
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In a democracy, the citizens have a fundamental right to protest in a peaceful way. We seem to practice titular democracy for the high-born and a brutal police for the deprived.

Europeans across the Continent watched in disbelief and with a kick in the teeth, media reports and graphic television footage of women, children and old men literally being dragged away by the New Delhi policemen in the horrid midnight incident of June 4.

One disturbing clip in German television showed, in the chaos, a pregnant woman lying on the ground, remaining unswerving in her protestation while she was carried away by policemen.

This episode has sent a very, very wrong message of India, all across Europe.

I was weeping — tears falling off my aching eyes at how we have fallen so low, as a nation — when it appeared like ‘thugs' in police garb turned already angst-ridden, tormented citizens, into slaves. It remains an unknown mystery for me how we degenerated to the level we are as a nation today.

With all rational and poignant force, I must say that we seem to practise titular democracy for the high-born and a brutal police for the deprived classes, from the way Baba Ramdev's fast ended the way it did.

The Opaque Trap

Baba Ramdev, like Abhimanyu of the Mahabharata episode, was trapped by a clever team of the Government into the Chakravyuvha — the deadly, opaque trap formation.

It was a fundamental mistake of Baba Ramdev to have agreed to negotiate with this team of four government representatives. Thanks to their machinations, the movement against black money is almost crushed to death.

As the vedic dictum says: “ Vivahascha, Vivadascha, Samayayah, Sobhathe ” meaning: “matrimony and arguments can only be between equal partners”.

Now, coming to the question of the way Baba Ramdev and the peaceful demonstrators were treated, I have no hesitation in saying that it is a shameful experience that anyone can have in a country like India. Do not peaceful agitators have the fundamental right to agitate? Why would they be disturbed from sleep and hounded out in this manner with lathis and tear gas shells?

Is this how a responsible government should treat innocent people? Surely, in a democracy, the citizens have a right to protest in a peaceful way. Where would people go from here?

Unequal Partnership

Another unfair thing that happened was Mr Kapil Sibal getting a letter from Baba Ramdev, even before the fast started that he would stop the fast on a certain day.

Even assuming for argument sake that Baba Ramdev was playing a double-game, was it right for a respectable Supreme Court lawyer and a Cabinet Minister to boot, to take such a letter from him?

Baba Ramdev would not have realised how badly that letter could be used against him. But, Mr Kapil Sibal must have known what a powerful weapon it was in his hands. Is this fair?

It is clear evidence of an unequal partnership. So, the negotiations were bound to fail. Failure was built into the structure of the negotiation itself. And, that is precisely what the government wanted.

Now, where do we go from here?

Baba Ramdev could even now join hands with Anna Hazare and lend him unqualified support in carrying on his fight against black money. As Lord Krishna has said in the Gita: “ Yogah karmasu kaushalam ” meaning “Yoga is doing things right”.

Is the Govt in coma?

Europeans witnessed in the June 4 incident, basic human rights principles that were trampled underfoot, repeatedly and with impunity. And, a sensitive, responsive government would have measured the public pulse and provided ameliorative rejoinders. But, that was not to be. Perhaps, the government has gone into coma? Even Ms Sonia Gandhi missed a wonderful opportunity to exhibit fairness as the occasion demanded. She ought to have condemned the brutalities on sleeping women and children. And, Mr Rahul Gandhi just remained silent.

Dare Face the Aam Admi

I want to ask Ms Sonia Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi a straight question: How do you expect to face the next elections and the ‘ aam aadmi' for whom you claim to have a special place in your heart and whose welfare is your obsession?

I must add that the ‘June 4' transgression in New Delhi is as grave as the alleged crime in Mayawati's Uttar Pradesh for which Mr Rahul Gandhi agitated, painstakingly. And, it appears to European investors that the next Parliament election will be much ahead of time.

It is time the nation sees the damages being caused from all this — not only financially but in the matter of international reputation too. And, this happening when we have been wanting to boast of a 9 per cent growth rate.

Though the very disquieting prime-time TV reports in several channels across Europe stirred a lot of emotions among Europeans — from anger to melancholy and awkward embarrassment, there is one particular facet that I would like to highlight.

Perhaps, the midnight event of June 4 is the “tipping point” (using Malcolm Gladwell's expression) — the brink, the boiling point — to begin a peaceful transformation in India.

After all, we may never perish in a nuclear war. But, we have only an eternal murky gloom to look forward to when liberty is dying.

(The author is a former Europe Director, CII. blfeedback@thehindu.co.in

Published on June 16, 2011

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