Hollow Oaths
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Hollow Oaths

May 27, 2023

Every time there is an oath-taking ceremony, MLAs do not follow the rules, which is to take the oath either in the name of God or the Constitution. Instead, they take the oath in the name of whomsoever they want. This time was no different, the MLAs began their stint as rule-makers by breaking the rules!

The Deputy CM, D.K. Shivakumar, took the oath in the name of his religious guru, Gangadhara Ajjayya. Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, the BJP MLA from Bijapur, took it in the name of Hindutva and Gaumata (holy cow). Sharanu Salagar, MLA from Basavakalyan, took his oath in the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Basavanna. Son of senior BJP leader B.S. Yediyurappa and first-time MLA, B.Y. Vijayendra, took the oath in the name of Huchchuraya Swamy. There are many more like this.

Interestingly in  2013,  an MLA, JD(S) legislator Chikkamadu of H.D. Kote took oath in the name of voters of his Constituency! Some constituents of H.D. Kote were worried because when we were young, we all used the phrase “I swear on my mother” or “mother promise.” As children, we were told that if you swear on your mother and lie, your mother will die! Luckily all the H.D. Kote constituents are alive and well.

Oaths and pledges have now been reduced to just a pompous exercise. It sounds hollow. We have numerous professions where an oath is administered. Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, emphasising patient care, confidentiality, and ethical medical practice. Lawyers take an oath to maintain professional integrity and provide unbiased legal counsel. The Engineering Council of India administers the Engineers’ Oath to ensure their commitment to public safety, ethical engineering practices, and sustainable development. How many abide by this oath?

Then, of course, we have our IAS and IPS Officers, who take an oath and pledge to serve the nation with integrity, impartiality, and dedication. We know how they operate. Even Chartered Accountants in India take an oath during their induction ceremony, promising to uphold the principles of integrity, honesty, and professional competence in financial matters.

Truth is that oaths don’t make one professional, sincere or honest in their job; Repercussion does — Punishment tends to guarantee some level of efficiency, but the name of God in oaths doesn’t. Without accountability, our oaths are just hollow.

We invoke God in our oath as a witness to our promises with the implicit expectation that God will hold us accountable if we do not honour them. Looking around us, it is clear that God doesn’t give a damn. So then, who will hold these false promisers accountable? At least in the case of politicians? No one but the voter. But the voter himself is corrupt, and ironically, the voter, too, takes a pledge!


Every year on the 25th of January, the Election Commission of India asks voters to take a pledge. It goes like this: “We, the citizens of India, having abiding faith in democracy, hereby pledge to… vote in every election fearlessly and without being influenced by considerations of religion, race, caste, community, language or any inducement.”

Well, most voters have done just the opposite of what’s stated in the pledge. They have been doing so and will continue to do so because the Indian voter is as corrupt, as casteist, as ‘religion-obsessed’ and as opportunistic as their politicians. The politician is a simple reflection of the quality of the majority of our people.

Now, even though “People’s work is God’s work” is etched on the entrance of Vidhana Soudha, even though the politician swears in the name of God to serve us, why are they unable to do so? Could it be that the oath-taking ceremony is held in an inappropriate location and needs to be changed?

We all remember how former CM B.S. Yediyurappa challenged JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy to stand before Dharmasthala’s Lord Manjunatha and swear that he had not cheated him. Even former Union Law Minister Dr. M. Veerappa Moily, also a former CM, asked his accuser C. Byre Gowda to swear before the Dharmasthala deity and prove his accusation that Moily had offered him money. Ironic that a Union Law Minister believes he will get justice in a temple rather than a Court of Law.

This manifestation of the ‘truthful man’ in a temple is not just limited to politicians. Even Vini Vinc Shastry, Karnataka’s biggest chit fund scamster, when he did not break under Police interrogation, was taken to Tirupati Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh as he was known to be a staunch devotee.

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 The Police took Shastry to the sanctum sanctorum, where he was made to stand before the deity and asked to reply to questions after taking an oath in the name of Lord Venkateshwara. Soon he showered the Police with information like a mantra from the lips of a seasoned priest!

What narco test, torture, threat and jail time could not do for Shastry, just a change of location did. Maybe from now on, all swearing-in ceremonies must be held in temples or places of worship; then, we just may have a little less corruption.

However, the other theory is that if oaths are repeated just before certain crucial decision-making, the decision will be more honest. In an experiment, it turned out that students who were reminded of the Honour Code just before a test didn’t cheat even when they were given the opportunity to.

The conclusion was that recalling something about honesty before taking the test reduces cheating. So maybe just before signing a public works contract or denotification file, our leaders should be first made to recite the oath. Then, the percentage of kickbacks would reduce, if not disappear.

An oath is taken when a person is involved in a profession that entails mercy, sympathy and justice. That is why you see Ministers, Doctors and Lawyers taking oaths. But God and religion have never been able to dictate morality, nor will they ever because they are drenched in violence and immoral acts.

The purpose of an oath is that if you are a good person, you will soak it in and understand its higher meaning. It is a wasted effort on cold-hearted hypocrites who are blinded by greed.

All this oath-taking in the name of God proves one thing, when it comes to money and power, all are atheists ­­— they don’t really fear God. Maybe that’s because God is like our PM Modi who said — ‘Na khaunga na khane dunga’ — but he did nothing as his party-men looted Karnataka.

For now, let’s hope while the oaths MLAs’ took feel hollow, Congress’ five promises are not.

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  1. citizenvoter says:

    They should make aane pramana by putting their hand on their children head.

  2. Ajjampur Vijayakumar says:

    Interesting take by Vikram of the SOM.
    Why stop observing politicians only? Why not look at the scams happening in famous temples like Chamundi Hill ?Temple, where the Temple Administrator and the Chief Priest , who occupies his position through dynastical arrangement ( his father was athe chief priest too), colluding together to collect massine amount of cash for themselves, through so called special darshans for the rich. Inn the vicinity of the Goddess idol, the Chief Priest givs pradasams to these rich people, including putting kumkum on their foreheads touching them-which the Agama practice forbids as the priest should stay clea not gtouching the devotee as he gas to touch the Goddess idol. The Chief Priest after blessing the rich man gets a thick wad od Rupees which he collects in his left hand, while his right hand is giving the prasadam to the rich devotee. Easy tax-free cash for him. He thinks, after all this Goddess is an idol made of metal! The same happening in Nanjangud Srikantswamy Temple too!
    This is India, the country of ancient civilisation!!


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