(Following is the full text of the speech delivered by former Chief of Air Staff Shri A.Y. Tipnis at the concluding ceremony of third-year OTC in Nagpur on June 5.)
The RSS has honoured me by inviting to the valedictory function of its annual training camp. It is a privilege for a non-RSS person to address cadres and office bearers of the RSS, on this special occasion. As a former military person, I understand the importance of training and the value attached to its culmination by instructors and trainees alike; I dare say the selection of the chief guest is done with some circumspection. I can only hope that they will have no reason to regret their choice!
I laud the dedication and sense of commitment of the instructors and the enthusiasm and discipline of the trainees. It is, indeed, a challenging task, to gather over 800 persons from every part of India, to voluntarily imbibe them with the spirit of patriotism and nation-building: My compliments for the successful conclusion of the camp.
Year 2007 marks the Diamond Jubilee of India'sfreedom from imperial rule. This milestone offers a much-needed impetus to review and reflect on our nation'sjourney towards fulfillment of its aspirations. We would do well to take stock of the prevailing situation and to identify issues, problems that need resolution collectively without hindrance from narrow sectarian politics.
A country of our diversity and a population that will be second-to none sooner than we would like, there are differing perceptions, opinions and beliefs literally beyond human comprehension. It is natural that we think and see things differently. Even so, this very diversity should be a source of pride and joy for us and not of despair. Surely, it is the different colours of the rainbow that give it its mesmerizing beauty. But of course the colours must sublime into the strength, giving whole of the white-light when needed. The challenge is to not just to philosophise but find solutions that stand the test of reality. Naturally, in practice, there are difficulties and some problems may seem insolvable. In my opinion, the history of our freedom struggle is our inspirational asset in facing the divisive issues of today. In the freedom struggle, the RSS, the organisation whose cadres and leaders are assembled here today, played the part of a rallying force.
Every organisation needs to grow, change and evolve with the passage of time. Only by doing so can an organisation remain relevant and contribute to the on going process of societal change and transformation in a constructive way. A social organisation which itself does not change, may decay, become dogmatic, narrow and lose the social relevance with which it began. Now, RSS, I believe, is a dynamic organisation and I hope it is reviewing its agenda regularly to ensure that it addresses the existing/emerging challenges and not those of yesteryears.
Since society and a nation consist of very many organisations, leaders and leadership groups, all of us need certain common reference points for our social and national navigation. Every patriotic Indian should readily agree that Indians have such a singularly excellent and inspiring reference point in our Constitution. No matter what our different and often divergent beliefs, persuasions, ideologies; we have collectively committed ourselves to the ideals, values and principles, enshrined in the Constitution of India. Accepting, upholding and adhering to the stipulations of our country'sConstitution is the agreed and declared duty of every citizen and organisation of the country. The Constitution defines and gives us our collective character and identify.
With your indulgence, I would like to refer to four important parts of our Constitution that are illuminating beacons for the existing as well as the unseen road ahead of us. And I trust these reflections may also be found to be relevant and actionable by the office bearers, leaders and cadres of RSS. The first is the Preamble to our Constitution. This is the very soul of India voicing itself clearly. Significantly, we have declared ourselves a socialist, secular, democratic republic. Such a democratic republic is tolerant and invites participation of all, differences notwithstanding!
Our commitments to justice and liberty are considered so paramount that a substantial chapter and portion of the Constitution has been devoted to the elaboration of Fundamental Rights, guaranteed to every citizen without distinction of any kind including caste, creed, colour, faith, belief and gender. This is the second part of our Constitution to which I wish to draw attention. The Preamble to the Constitution and the declaration of Citizen'sFundamental Rights, assure to each and everyone of us, liberty of faith and worship.
How is it then that in this country of high ideals, places of worship have been attacked and desecrated? How is it that family of a foreign missionary engaged in laudable humanitarian work and constructive social service was attacked with murderous violence? How is it that Punjab witness violence rooted in religious differences? And Rajasthan is brought to a standstill by differences one finds hard to define.
Mahatma Gandhi, the globally honoured apostle of peace and non-violence, is the Father of our Nation. In this very nation, wherein we have declared liberty of thought, belief, faith and religion, as part of the fundamental rights of every citizen and human being, we are witnessing trends to growing communal prejudice, divide and violence, out of religious intolerance inclining to fundamentalism.
The RSS can render great service by standing up as a bulwark against forces of fundamentalism, communalism and religious prejudice and intolerance. Let us protect innocents. Let us remember and let us not forget that during post partition violence Muslim and Hindu families have acted with courage to protect friends and strangers from the other community in their respective localities from violence. The same goodness and courage were witnessed during Anti-Sikh riots following Prime Minister Indira Gandhi'sassassination. Let us do what is right in humanitarian and constitutional terms.
Articulation of the fundamental duties of citizens is a wonderfully inspired feature of the Indian Constitution. This chapter does not impose duties in service of the state. It does not necessarily state that duties precede rights. It does, however, recognise that enjoyment of right/fundamental rights go side by side with performance and fulfillment of Duties/Fundamental Duties. Under it, we can and we must also recognise and practice the principle that it is every ones duty to guarantee, safeguard and protect the assured rights/fundamental rights and liberties of others. Perhaps the RSS sees an enlightened role for itself in setting the pace for our citizens.
However, this great country of ours is full of overt and hidden violence. And so we witness organised attacks on minorities, dalits and tribals and also on the majority. But what is that majority? How can religion be an identification? And also in the majority, are the poor of India are constantly engaged in the harsh struggle for survival in both rural and urban India? We need peace and security of life to take care of our children and our elders and to earn our livelihood, which in the main is very meager. As a result of organised or systemic violence we also witness, as human history has always experienced, violent reactions from the oppressed. Armed tribal movements and naxalite-movements are spreading in different parts of India.
There is need for social organisation, which are so concerned and inspired by love of people and country that they carry the torch of non-violence and communal harmony and persuade people to find non-violent remedies to problems faced by them. In the process such organisation become the voice to the oppressed, while persuading all against violence. Violence against women is of particular concern in our society. It is a cross-cultural reality of Indian life and it must be eradicated. I would urge RSS office bearers, leaders and cadres to take note of these Indian realities and to find ways to respond constructively to them by incorporating them in their priorities of concern and charters and programmes of action without causing alarm of apprehension in any section of society.
There is one fundamental duty, which every responsible social organisation would do well to address. It is a declared duty of every citizen to protect the environment. Whereas we are probably in agreement about protecting the natural environment, even if not enough is actually being done, our definition of environment needs to include our rural and urban habitat. Indian towns and cities are notoriously famous for uncleared filth, garbage and blocked and overflowing drains. A concerted effort is required. A genuine national programme for better civic sense and cleanliness is required on our roads, footpaths, backyards and front yards and in all kinds of public places and systems of public transportation. Most railway stations, bus terminals and many government office premises, court premises are deplorable in their maintenances. Visiting them, waiting in such surroundings is a painful often suffocating, an obnoxious experience. We do not know what a queue-system is and think nothing of elbowing out people ahead of us. It is certainly a violation against human dignity, citizens? dignity and our own dignity. Not only other nationals look down on us in this respect, but we ourselves find this shameful.
Is the renowned zeal of the RSS, challenged sufficiently to pioneer a citizens-movement. In fact it would be a revolution in cleanliness and civic education? We cannot do it with zeal alone. We cannot do it merely with awareness and civic sense. We need infrastructure and systems of waste and garbage clearance and civic guides to educate people on the dos and don?ts of social behaviour. Our civic bodies and municipal authorities need to work on this in response to public demand and need. Social organisations need to work in the tandem with them.
There is another issue that is on the minds of all of us in India today. The ugly menace of corruption, which is affecting administrative, social and individual moral fibre of our society. This issue looms large over every aspect of Indian affairs. It definitely impairs quality of our democracy, our governance, our development programmes and our everyday life. The Right to Information Act provides a partial yet a very effective counter to corruption by detecting and checking it proactively, some recent citizens movements are in the process of righting some blatant wrongs of the Part. Increasingly more individuals, groups and organisations are acting under the RTI and we the citizens are gainers thereby. It is an instrument to enforce accountability in governance. Once more RSS could consider it under their scope to take up and challenge the cancer of corruption beginning with action under the RTI.
I may also refer to the fourth part of the Constitution, which I consider of direct significance to every citizen. This chapter refers to the Directive Principles of State Policy. Even though the Directive principles, unlike the Fundamental Rights, are not enforceable under the law, they lay down broad directives and issues of policy that a citizen may study with a measure of pride and derive inspiration from. They are a pointer to ways in which we aspire to create a better society and better life for our citizens. The social and economic charter and other concerns articulated in the Directive Principles do demonstrate a laudable idealism, which marks the Indian Constitution and our collective democratic aspirations and commitments. Evidently, realising, fulfilling the ideals, is not the sole responsibility of the State or the Government. The spirit of the Constitution, its democratic values and its ideals in terms of citizens rights, duties and state policy, call for enlightened, responsible, participation of citizens, in building the India of our dreams.
My submission is that every one of us and all civil society organisations and national-institutions, must be inspired and guided by the democratic and humanitarian commitments of our Constitution. That we need to consciously understand and abide by the Constitution. In doing so we may develop a new liberating and empowered sense of citizenship. Out of this we must, all of us, take note of tendencies that lead to serious issues, threatening the internal well-being of the nation. Fundamentalism, communal prejudices, religious intolerance and religious, communal violence and violence against minorities, dalits, tribals and women, are issues facing our society and country. Corruption is an evil aberration of responsible people in a democracy. We need new personal and organisational responses to actively address these issues lawfully, yet decisively, with a collective will to do so.
In closing, I would once more urge the RSS through its office bearers, leaders and cadres, to reflect on these issues. There is an urgent need to respond to this national reality, out of a renewed commitment to the vision, ideals, values and principles enshrined in our Constitution, which defines our nation and our collective character. I trust such a reflection and resolve to act can help the processes of organisational regeneration, once again the RSS must come into the front ranks of builders of our democracy, as it, indeed, was during the freedom struggle. The country witnessed with appreciation and admiration the zealous efforts of the RSS during relief work post Kutch earthquake, tsunami and else where in times of natural-calamity. It is a pointer to its dynamic leadership and dedicated cadres. This energy is needed to address some of the issues, referred by me, for your consideration.
Thank you all for inviting me to this function and allowing me to share some thoughts with you on this occasion. I wish you strength and wisdom in your noble cause of developing patriotism and bringing social-justice in this great land of ours that we lovingly call our Bharat-Mata.