What on earth is happening to India and to Indians beyond the seas? Everything seems to be going wrong. An Indian cricket team, oh not so long ago considered Number One in the world, suffers humiliating innings defeats in Australia, four times in a row. Such a thing has never happened before in living memory. While Australian cricketers like Ponting hit double centuries almost absent-mindedly, Sachin Tendulkar, our icon is steadily knocked out with paltry scores to his discredit. Is he past his prime and should henceforth be quietly and honourably asked to retire?
In Jaipur, Salman Rushdie who was to attend a Literary Conference, opts out because of alleged threats to his safety and security. The Rajasthan Government which should have ignored the threats, contrariwise, gives in, to the nation’s shame. Goondas won the day. And the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre showed it had no guts. In Gujarat, a Judge, RA Mehta who has been openly against Narendra Modi and has publicly exhibited his bias against the State’s Chief Minister is appointed Lokayukta by the Governor, Kamal Beniwal. The Gujarat Government takes the case to the High Court were a 2-member Bench is split and another Judge, Justice VM Sahai is named to break the tie. Shockingly, in his judgement, Justice Sahai goes after Narendra Modi in language best described as unacceptable. Sahai supports Justice Mehta’s appointment as Lokayukta. A report says that “Justice Sahai chose to launch a non-holds barred diatribe against Modi and the State government.” Is that being fair?
In Mumbai, over twenty Shiv Sena workers ransacked the lobby of The Times of India allegedly in protest against an article in Maharashtra Times which wondered whether a Shiv Sena MP is on his way to join the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of Sharad Pawar. No action seems to have been taken by the Maharashtra Government against the goons except that 17 of them have been booked for criminal trespass.
In Russia, some Christian fundamentalists want the Gita to be banned on grounds that some of its contents are allegedly objectionable. One would have thought that Christians in India would defend the Gita in a show of respect for the Hindu holy book. They haven’t. Actually, the Church thinks Yoga is sinful.
With elections on, Congress leaders sought to win Muslim votes by promising Dalit Muslims a 4.5 per cent quota within the quota the OBC were entitled to. One would have thought that the moment a Dalit got converted to Islam or Christianity, he ceased to be Dalit. But we live and learn. Conversion, the Dalits are learning, doesn’t pay. Now Congress leader Digvijay Singh has promised members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (MMPLB) that minority institutions will be kept out of the purview of the Right to Education (RTE). Why should that concession be applicable only to Muslim Institutions? If there is a law it should be applicable to all institutions uniformly. Digvijay Singh has no answer.
This country suffers from the ‘Minority Syndrome’ and it is time, sixty four years after Independence to come to terms with reality. The concept of minoritism must be given up for good. Or what does secularism mean? But what is the worst case of government inanity is the mess that has been made about Army Chief Gen VK Singh’s date of birth (DoB). Gen Singh is a soldier. He knows that when a soldier gives orders, his subordinates must obey them implicitly. If the Government has taken a decision on his DoB, that should be the end of the matter. It should not be questioned. To argue that an Indian who feels deprived of justice has the right to appeal to the Court should not apply to promotion within the Army. To do so would be opening a can of worms. When Lt Gen SK Sinha who deserved to be the Army Chief in 1983 but was superceded unjustly felt hurt for genuine reasons, he, too, could have gone to Court. He didn’t. He even declined to state his case to the media. The then government maintained that it would not be desirable, in the national interest, to debate the issue in the Parliament and the Opposition rightly did not press the matter. Actually, in view of the raging controversy, Venkataraman, the then Defence Minister agreed that Gen. Sinha clarified the matter to the press. Said Gen. Sinha: “I do not question the decision of the government. I accept it”. That was a real soldier speaking. Gen. Sinha felt it was not right to allow the image of the Army to be sullied.
Now turn to the case against former ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair and some senior and distinguished senior scientists, suspected of wrong-doing and have been declared ineligible for any government position. Overnight as it were half a dozen top Indian scientists have their reputation sullied, without being specifically told on what grounds. If a scientist who oversaw ISRO’s maiden Lunar Orbiter Mission, Chandrayaan turn into a success can be suspect of wrong doing, who can one trust in years to come?
As it is one stands aghast to learn that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested a senior IAS officer – and Andhra Pradesh Government’s Home Secretary at that, for being involved in a land scam. If a Home Secretary who is supposed to be incharge of law and order is to be arrested, what is left for the ordinary citizen to fall back on? And finally comes the sickening news of candidates who have stood for elections, with almost half of them having charges against them of murder, attempts at murder, kidnapping, robbery and extortion. May one ask what has the Election Commissioner been busy with these days? And to think that every party has its share of candidates with alleged criminal records? Is this what we dreamt of having, on the midnight of August 14, 1947 when we became a free nation after centuries of bonded slavery?