By Arun Srivastava
It was extremely shocking to read Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh’s thought on Karni Sena and the Rajput members’ protests against ‘Padmavat’. Singh is not known to possess a high degree of intellect. But his opinion that ‘protests are inevitable if anything is not done without consensus’ is really astonishing if not ridiculous. While he did not condemn the outrageous violence let loose by Sena goons, ironically, he counselled that a film producer must have his creative venture approved. But who will approve? Obviously they will be some semi-literates who only know the art of perpetrating violence.
Singh has said: “No one is allowed to misrepresent and distort history in the name of freedom of expression”. He is right. But one would certainly like to know whether he had himself read the famous book on which film is based. The second question: “Has he seen the movie?” Outraging his own statement, he defended the people indulging in violent actions, especially to those who tried to set on fire the bus in Gurugram carrying school kids. Just imagine the sadistic mindset of the protestor who threw stones at kids and tried to set the bus afire.
Once an individual joins the rank of the politicians, he thinks himself to be the most wise-man on the planet. Singh is not an exception. He sermons: “Whenever we say something about history we must cross check it. Freedom of expression doesn’t give us any right to tamper with history. We should pacify and resolve the situation by talking to the people, who are protesting against the film. They should be asked about their concerns and objections in the film. Whenever there are clashes of interest, things will certainly be messed up”. Does he think that the director has not cross checked the facts? Only yesterday a special pre-view of the film was held and every one present lauded it. They even said that it does not have any controversial scene.
Instead of espousing the cause of the mercenaries, Singh must come out with the information when the director of Padmaavat refused to listen to the views of the so called self -styled historians. Raising objections to films has become a fashion as decrying the film and insulting the producer and directors elevate these half-educated people to the rank of celebrities.
What has been most shocking is the silence of Singh and ilk like him on the heinous design to kill school kids and their teachers in the Gurugram bus attack. The Karni Sena leaders have disowned and denounced the goons. It has not come as a surprise. This has been the old fashion. Since the goons had run amuck, the leaders preferred not to associate with them publicly. That is all.
Moral values in politics have been on the decline for at least last three decades, but the recent decay has been shocking. This cannot be resolved or addressed by either capitalist or socialist ideologies. What has been most dangerous is the aversion of the political system to discourage such elements or trends. None can deny that today the society is facing the challenge of inequality and politics degradation in moral values. It is being threatened by divisive forces. It is a bare fact that these problems and challenges can be countered only through societal intervention, which in present times is absolutely lacking.
The video of terrified school children huddled in the school bus as a mob attacked them with stones and sticks became a symbol of government indifference and peoples’ apathy to violence and criminalisation of the society. As a matter of fact the state should have used is machinery to curb the violence.
The political decline, which India is witnessing of late in real terms, emanates out of political apathy. People are gradually losing trust and faith in the political system and institution. A sense of aversion towards politics is overtaking the psyche of the common people. It is only the vested interests or the crooked who benefit from the existing political system.
In the West, both in the USA and Europe, people talk of political apathy. Their apathy primarily owes to the failing of the politicians. The people find it hard to believe that the political system can dare to ignore their wishes. Actually this is the difference between India and USA or Europe. In India we talk of political decline, decline in the quality of politics but cannot force the political institution to speak of change. Disruption of parliament has become a permanent feature. It was given a broader character by the BJP patriarch L K Advani during the Manmohan Singh government.
We must ask a question to ourselves: Why politics declined? The recent past saw big corruption by the high and mighty, be it politics or the corporate world. There is a notion that law cannot touch the high and mighty. Politics became identified with corruption, conspiracy and lack of principles. The fact is the political culture has completely degenerated. Politics has become a power-grabbing game.
The conscience that guides individual behaviour is no longer concerned of the moral conduct and blurs the distinction between right and wrong. This is the gift of the crony capital that rules common man’s life following reforms and liberalisation. Earlier, people used to talk of conscience but in modern days it is a utopian concept and object. Family and social bonds are getting weaker. Earlier there was moral order in everyday life, which began at home and spread to the outside community. But it is no more.
In a free society, the relationship between the individual and the state is simple. Thomas Jefferson stated; “Man is not made for the State but the State for man, and it derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. The task is not to reinvent government or to give politics meaning; the task is to limit government and revitalize civil society. The best government is that which governs”. In India it is an alien concept. The task of the government is now not to administer justice, not to protect equal rights of the citizen, and not to preserve the social order. In modern India freedom has come to mean freedom from responsibility. It is nothing but a form of tyranny, which creates moral and social chaos.
The present trend of violence at some level reflects the disenchantment of the people towards the government and the policies. It is imperative that efforts should be made to expose the intellectual, constitutional, and moral bankruptcy of the state. (IPA Service)