The Berlin Wall of India

It’s a show of greatness that a land of billion, with diversity stretching through the depths of cultures, traditions, languages, religions, thoughts, intellectuals, landscapes and conflicts has been successful not only in being strongly unified, but also in constantly refreshing the dignity of democracy. Today this land where poverty once scratched the streets in numbers almost entirely, has defied the notion of ‘failed state’ once inflicted on the rejuvenating wounds of its freedom fighters. India has come a long way, through many generations, with revived human spirit each of whom has added its touch of significance in the making of this ‘Brand India’.

But as paradoxical as it may seem, India still seems to be in a state of eternal bleeding. An era, when millions once walked together in attire as white as the thought of the person who led them, crushing the barriers of religion and untouchability has long been doomed by the curse embedded in our thought and actions by the new era politics. Its ripples have long been felt and destroyed the new rays of hope that seemed to appeal to the mass at large. India, for almost its entire existence as a sovereign republic, has dreaded the rise of conflicts formed largely as a catalyst of divisive politics. It has driven India on a path, led by the vigour of violence, into constant consolidation. What remains is the growth of the economy with the courage of its people in an environment unknown when to burst into the fires of ideological conflicts.

Today a new era of regional politics has sprouted in lands which once lay resistant to the forces of language based theories. The people, once respectful to the ways of others standards, have now gripped themselves into the trap which lay open to any unfortunate souls. These political parties, who juggled into the politics of ‘Indian Culture’, are the same breed going against the principles of this very culture, characterising on the basis of language and region. What’s harder to digest is the way people have accepted this stain to fit themselves into a frame, not first as citizens of this nation, but formerly as that of their communities. Rather than encouraging people to empower themselves with the skills required for survival in such competent surroundings, these so-called leaders rather prefer to enlighten their minds with their hate speeches, trying to provide them with skills just enough to get away with the policies of reservations.

The ‘Berlin Wall of India’ had been destroyed long back, but its brick by brick construction had also started soon after. The forces which were once made to sway away during the struggle suddenly got a highway soon after independence (mostly as a result of the partition). Today’s politicos have become the Brand (or rather Grand) ambassadors of the ‘divide and rule’ philosophy. The very basic principles of our struggle have been squashed by the greed of a few people desperate to make their mark in a world of coalition government. What remains to be seen is how the country manages to stay afloat with peace and harmony, avoiding the gimmicks posted by these politicians, encouraged by the TRP-centred media and let off too loosely by the judiciary.

India’s borders may not ever be stressed any further, but its people’s outlook, attitude, thoughts and actions have already been affected by the swift rise of the ‘Berlin Wall’ in their minds.

Can’t we think beyond reservations?

Reservations on baseless criterion has created further divisions in the already divided Indian society. Our political parties are persistently surfacing with manifestos and promises to lure voters into their votebanks.

In yet another move to use the reservations as a convenient toy to bloat up their votebank, the Lok Jan Shakti Party headed by Ramvilas Paswan has come out with few unique ideas.

What LJP has done is that it has promised to have a ‘Dalit Regiment’ in the army to make representation of Dalits in the armed forces and to infuse self-respect among them. Paswan has gone a tad bit further in making an optimum use of the tool of reservations, saying that his party wants to extend the sfacility of reservation for SC/ST, OBC and minorities to judicial services and establishment of National Judicial Services.

The manifesto has promised to take the initiative for socio-economic and educational development of minorities, especially Muslims, in the light of the findings of the Sachar Committee.

Here are some of made by the promises by LJP as a part of its election manifesto:

  • The symbol of integrity, Indian Army will have regiments on the basis of caste.
  • Reservation for SC/ST, OBC and minorities in Judicial services.
  • Reservation for SCs and STs in the private sector.
  • 15 per cent reservation for minorities, with 10 per cent for Muslims only.
  • Removal of 50 per cent ceiling on reservation.

Paswan, who was a minister in the NDA government, left it a year before the 2004 elections.

He then joined the UPA and became the Union Minister of Steel, Chemicals and Fertilisers. Now, he has broken from the UPA as well and formed a ‘secular’ alliance with Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal. These state level leaders have lost hold in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In an attempt to make his playing field much bigger, the party manifesto has also supported the demand of formation of Telangana, Vidarbha, Poorvanchal, Bundelkhand and Vikas Pardesh in western UP.

LJP, RJD and SP have always been opportunistic. They will be readily available after the results of elections are declared. On the basis of their own performance they will play a deal game.

How long will we see such appeasements on caste and religion to lure voters?

It’s an appeal to all well-meaning citizens, not to be the victims of vote bank politics. Let’s ask political parties to come up with an agenda. An agenda to provide employment to youth and powering the underprivileged to be able to manage their own food.

With our leaders coming up with such dividing policies, my earnest request to all the voters would be to please think practically and sensibly before casting your votes.

Good politicians do exist

India’s problems are complex. And unfortunately these are compounded by vote-bank politics. Instead of uniting the different sections of society, many politicians divide it to keep their vote banks intact. If people are united, politicians won’t be able to get votes through divisive politics. In such a situation, the only way for them to win votes would be through good performance.

As citizens, we must protect our country from those who manipulate issues for their personal gains and who lead by playing vote-bank politics. Those with vested interests support insensible decisions and oppose sensible ones. We have to steer clear of such leaders. We must encourage broad-minded politicians and leaders to come forward and take charge, and to educate and uplift the society – spiritually, morally and socially.

We need leaders who are satya-darshi (truthful), sam-darshi (equanimous), priya-darshi (pleasant), paar-darshi (transparent) and door-darshi (visionary). So, before we elect our leaders, we should examine their qualifications.

We must elect leaders who will do away with policies based on caste, creed, religion and region; who will ensure that every child gets a multi-cultural, multi-dimensional education.

We need leadership with a mission and a vision, leadership with a spirit of sacrifice, compassion and commitment. We must choose leaders who have a long-term vision and short-term plans to achieve it. They should have great personal integrity, and place the country before themselves.

Unfortunately, most of our politicians lack a sense of sacrifice and inclusiveness. Irrespective of the party they belong to, people perceive politicians as insincere. Today, people are fed up of them. This is when apathy sets in among people. They dismiss politics as a whole and withdraw from their basic duty of voting.

Our votes are an important tool to bring about a change in the system; they give us an opportunity to raise our voice against injustice. But many of us have developed a chalta hai attitude, because we fail to see the power of our votes. This attitude is dangerous for the country. By not voting we are encouraging the status quo.

Each one of us must not only vote but also encourage others around us to vote. When good, intelligent and well-educated people don’t vote, they play into the hands of politicians, who use money and vote bank politics to seize power. People should not lose hope. Good politicians exist. And they must be given a chance to do the best they can for the country, for its people.

We have seen the shortcomings of capitalism, communism and socialism. Now is the time for humanism and spiritualism. Politics without humanism and spiritualism is bound to be dirty. Many people believe that spiritualism is not for this world, that it is not a practical tool to bring about societal transformation. But that’s a misconception. Mahatma Gandhi was spiritual. He conducted satsangs every day and played an important role in bringing freedom for our country.

That is why today we need leaders who have a spirit of sacrifice, and who are spiritual in their outlook, to enter politics.

Originally authored by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on his Guest Blog here