Leader and the led: An Indian approach
By Ashok Dasgupta
What are the considerations that lead to a final assessment of a leader in the political, social order or in any other walk of life; even if that be in the literary or creative and artistic world?
Valmiki?the ?Adi-Kavi??the great saint-poet who composed Ramayana was, according to an anecdote, a robber at his early life. What he did during his early years does not hold relevance for the great saint-poet'sfinal assessment.
Similarly, there runs a story to tell us that Kalidasa, the great poet, was a blockhead in his early life. That too stands as nothing more in importance than an anecdote when the genius, as a poet, was assessed.
What kind of a person one happens to be in his young age does not help to make a final assessment about him or his works, as perceptions of a later mature period are of greater relevance. History looks for what it gets ultimately from an individual who affects or has sway over others. The issue can be looked into from another angle. Napoleon was not only a genius in confronting armed combats, he was a farsighted reformer and an efficient Governor too. How did the British, German, and other portray him and how, then, did the French look at him? An artist portrays the figure according to his perception; the people too, at large, portray a leader according to their general perception of him. The people have a general perception of good and bad and the portrait of a leader depends much upon how the leader performs as to satisfy those general perceptions.
Valmiki?the ?Adi-Kavi??the great saint-poet who composed Ramayana was, according to an anecdote, a robber in his early life.
Almost in all such assessments, the national perception is of prime importance in the realm of people'sconsciousness. The issue may be observed from another angle too. No historical analysis can controvert that the vengeance expressed through the 1919 Versailles pact was at the root to drive out Hitler'sNational Socialist Party in the thirties in Germany. Gross economic exploitation through the pact and the sense of abject national disgrace was at the root of all Germans rallying around Hitler. Though the name of Hitler can in no way be erased from the history of Germany, yet all know how he is portrayed in history today and what is the assessment of Germans about him now! History looks for what she gets ultimately.
Well, one has to see how the three major players in the political arena of the just-concluded century are looked at by people of their nations as well as the people at large all over the world. Lenin and Stalin, once considered gods by communists and demigods by many progressive, secular intellectuals all over the world, stand now as great terrorisers and tyrants who made millions of innocent, hapless people perish forever, subjugating their nations to slavedom in the 20th century. And then, Mao Zedong'spolicies that led to a severe famine in China in 1958-59 that took toll of millions of lives, followed by great leap forward in 1958-61, the cultural revolution in 1966- 69, along with torture and liquidation of millions during his rule from 1949-76, depict him today for what he was very objectively, disregarding all sycophancy by the communist world regarding him.
History is not a mirror that reflects a figure created through clever manipulations in contemporary times, without appreciation of the final and objective realities of basic human values. Mere temporary political gain, loss or success, do not stand the final test of history.
History is also far from tolerant as it does not believe in the pliable principle of end justifies the means. History corroborates the end and the means together. An unacceptable means does not lead to a favourable end if it supercedes the permissible limits of the tactical strategic rules of the game. Success in one'saim does not authorise him to stake a claim in history.
Mohammad Ali Jinnah, in his young days may have held a a non-regimented outlook, rather alien to Shariat rules and closer to the Anglo-Saxon way of life. But the world does not require to assess and estimate Jinnah. That he championed the two-nation theory to divide and disintegrate India, that he shunned all democratic norms and took refuge in jehad, that he was instrumental in causing grief to millions of families, that he was one of the main characters responsible for the repression and torture on women in India on a scale that can never be forgotten. Jinnah'srole led to the actual culmination of Jehad initiated by Ahmed Barelavi (1776-1831) in north India for establishment of Dar-ul-Islam in India. The only difference was: Jinnah was attired in Anglo-Saxon garb and talked glibly in English. It, however, cannot be denied that both Nehru and Jinnah were symbols of Anglo-Saxon political ideas in India, were mutually intolerant and were equally instrumental in bringing about the Partition of India. As such, if he is called secular then others too can claim the same title.
History has to judge Jinnah and has already judged too can in terms of what he did ultimately. What kind of comments he elicited from other leaders during his early career do not present his final image. A man is judged by what he becomes ultimately; not by what he would have been.