How to fix India’s problem?
I have no escape from Mahatma Gandhi while I write about Justice N. Santosh Hegde, presently the conscience-keeper of Karnataka, just as Anna Hazare of Maharashtra — both are relentlessly fighting to eradicate corruption in our Government and society.
Mahatma Gandhi had declared long before we got our independence that we Indians should eschew seven social sins for individual’s self-salvation and for the good of his country.
- Politics without Principles.
- Wealth without Work.
- Commerce without Morality.
- Education without Character.
- Pleasure without Conscience.
- Science without Humanity.
- Worship without Sacrifice.
As a sad testimony to the Biblical saying ‘No prophet is honoured in his own land,’ a great majority of Indians, instead of following the Mahatma’s 7-Moral Codes, are indulging in those 7-Sins without an iota of moral compunction. It is, therefore, not surprising that while the British kept the Mahatma and protected him for 60 years under grave provocation, we Indians in free India did not tolerate him even for 16 months and assassinated him. Let it be.
The spirit of the Mahatma’s moral codes and ethical values cannot soar to save our country from its present corruption and degradation until the millstones of these 7-Sins the Mahatma has told us are lifted.
Here I am writing about Justice Nitte Santosh Hegde, a Kannadiga from Mangaluru, hailing from a family of name and fame — to the manor born. In the early 1960s, I had seen his father K.S. Hegde, appeared before him as a cub advocate seeking adjournment. What else? He was one of the three most highly respected and even feared Judges on the Bench of Karnataka High Court. In contrast, this chip off the old block seems rather too soft, gentle, nay genteel in contrast to his father. Of course, comparison is odious, but I find the benign quality of their hearts. As a Judge, Santosh Hegde might have had to follow both the letter and spirit of the law as per situation, but as Lokayukta he followed his heart and won the hearts of every one who sought help and succour from Lokayukta Justice Hegde.
On Monday [10.7.2017] my wife and I were among the 30 selected ‘thinking people,’ as the host described in his introductory remarks, gathered in the well-appointed house of industrialist and Chief of the NGO Pratham Mysore Ashvini Ranjan to listen to Justice Hegde and then interact with him. There were moments of mirth when Ashvini recalled Hegde describing Karnataka Lokayukta as a toothless tiger — as it did not have its own Police to raid-investigate the corruption cases and needed Government’s permission to prosecute the culprits. Ashvini added ‘clawless’ and went further, to the extreme, to say ‘a pussy cat, toothless and clawless.’ And to work effectively after being reduced to this effete condition, is to expect the impossible. And any corrupt and dictatorial Government would want only that kind of a Lokayukta. After all, people (voters) very well know, corruption is always State-sponsored.
Corrupt politicians are in connivance with the bureaucracy whom politicians induce to be corrupt to share the loot. In other words, bureaucrats are used by politicians as conduits for corruption. Which is why, Lokayukta’s powers are restricted so much so it cannot file a charge-sheet in the Court without the Government’s permission.
And the Government will NOT give permission where the culprit-bureaucrat has shared the bribe money or is related to the politician in power. Therefore, after the initial media-sensation of a raid or an arrest, the corrupt is released as it happened in city recently when the ACB caught DDPUE Jayaprakash. It is a farce — a theatre of the absurd. The culprit will retire unscathed without any stigma or punishment. Therefore, is it ever possible even to check corruption, leave alone eradicating it, under the present law?
It is, therefore, not surprising Ashvini Ranjan called Justice Hegde a Tragic Hero. And promptly, Hegde responded saying, Dilip Kumar ! Not to be left out I said Hamlet!
Be that as it may, the central point of Hegde’s narration with many examples derived from his experience as a Lokayukta was that the cause for corruption is greed and loss of moral values in the society.
In hind-sight, I feel one of the reasons for corruption could be the universal adult franchise given to a population where more than 75% of the population at the time of independence was illiterate and there was no educational qualification required to contest an election either. Strangely, even those with criminal antecedents and moral turpitude are allowed to contest an election.
Time India took a re-look into an old 67-year-old Constitution with a terrible fixation on Secularism and Minority appeasement and make it modern to fit into an India with many races, languages, religions, cultures and youth with education forming majority of the country’s population. People want to enjoy a peaceful life which is possible if Laws of India are placed, with great respect, reverence and even fear, above the religion of any citizen of the country, no matter the religion is of the majority or minority. Let religion be confined to the place of worship and homes except on special occasions with mutual respect. The law relating to Election Commission too requires changes for the changed circumstances of the day.
Today’s newspapers have carried a news of great significance which will definitely help strengthen any democratically established institution. The Rajasthan Government has become the first State in the country to lay down the minimum educational qualifications for contesting elections to Village Co-operative Societies and various other Co-operative bodies. The State Co-operative Societies Acts and Rules were accordingly amended.
If this was ultra vires to the Constitution, certainly this amendment would not have been effected. Therefore, why not our Parliamentarians take a second look into our Constitution and lay down the minimum educational qualification to contest the elections for the Parliament and the Legislature? Which is why, I had asked one last question to Justice Santosh Hegde before the session ended:
We have heard you Sir. Now let us know what are your suggestions to fix these problems?
Justice Hegde reverted to his old refrain — ending greed, society to be reformed etc.
I asked: Do you think the country is doomed and there is no way to redeem its lost ground?
‘I do not say that. There is future if the society is reformed. We need to be content with what we have and not be greedy to acquire wealth by illegal means.’
His wise counselling: ‘We as individuals should stop honouring those with illegal wealth. Stop voting them to power. It is disgusting to see Ministers, MLAs and MPs found guilty for corruption and criminal acts being garlanded and taken in procession when released on bail or from jail. I could not understand how a leader like Lalu Prasad Yadav was able to get majority seats in the last Assembly election despite being known for blatant corruption and for being in jail.’
This is pure sermon ! And we have had enough of it.
However, Justice Hegde did not suggest how we could fix the problem facing our country today. It would be of benefit to the aspiring youngsters, who want to “Bring Change” to create a “New, Modern India,” if Justice Hegde could in his future speeches [he has already interacted with students in 960 educational institutions] make suggestions to fix India’s problems as a guide to our new generation youth.
Jai Hind !
Thank You Ashvini for including me among the ‘thinking people.’