அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் கட்டுரைகள்

Is This The Answer? [IV]

Dr. S.Radhakrishnan.

Believe me when I say at the outset itself, that it is not with glee but remorse, that I pen this epistle— epitomising the feelings of surprise and sorrow, nay, shock, generated by your rather strong and uncharitable remarks about the head and heart of the people as a whole.

As the much-respected philosopher-politician, known and admired for an unrivalled clarity of thought, you have every right to offer paternal and even ‘pontifical’ advice to the country, but when you have taken for yourself, the role of a ‘bullying prosecutor,’ well, the sight is ugly and revolting—and by your performance on the 1st of December at Calcutta, you have shown that in spite of philosophy, men on the top, are thrown off their balance, when they are infuriated with themselves. Impotent rage is a malady, Sir, and one stricken with that, becomes grotesque. Pardon me when I say that you have allowed anger to take hold of you and jolt you from the pedestal you occupy. We have seen Pandit Nehru indulging in such performances, very often, and as he happens to be ‘a bundle of paradoxes’, to use his own words, we are not much worried. In fact, we used to console ourselves with the thought, that, the ‘sobriety’ of Dr. Radhakrishnan, is there to guide us, when we are about to falter. But what do we find? We find the philosopher outbeating the politician in the art of hammering the people with the most primitive of weapons—abuse. Of course, the position that men of your eminence occupy, is bound to kindle lot of temptation. The masses are there with bended knees, and when from the summit you view them, there is bound to be a gush of temptation—temptation to boss over them—chide them—treat them as so many erring human beings—as so many creatures to be kept in order. But certainly, the abundance of philosophy at your command should have extricated you from such temptation, For, though not well-versed in philosophy-Eastern or Western or the compound—I understand that humility, is the crux of philosophy. Humility is the greatest of assets, and if we are not capable of getting it from philosophy, I wonder from where else could we hope to get it.

If a disgruntled politician, indulges in abuses, none need worry. The Vice-President of a great republic has spoken—and such disparaging words. No Mayo and no Nicholos, dare mutter such stuff. Not even at the worst period of Indo-British struggle, did we hear any diehard speak such derogatory words.

Realise, Sir, before it is too late, that you have called the entire people as Dishonest!

We are basically dishonest, corrupt and degenerate.

—those are your words, Sir, and you have offered this abuse as answer to the present state of affairs. Posing a question for yourself, ‘What is it that prevents the progress of our country?’ you have avoided the analysis of the situation, you have failed to lay your hands on the real culprits, but you have taken the role of a bullying prosecutor, and aim your shaft at the helpless and innocent people. The mere addition of the word ‘we’, does not and cannot take away either the ugliness or the venom in your uncalled for and wholesale accusation. In fact, Sir, you as an honoured member of the ruling group, have no right to put that question before the people. The people should confront you with that question. For, only those in whose hands the destiny of this country is placed, are responsible and answerable for the state of affairs. For over ten years and more the people have placed implicit faith in their rulers, obeyed their commands, filled their coffers, respected even their whims and fancies, in the hope that their rulers would deliver the goods, that they would lead them on the path of progress and prosperity.

The people, even when there were visible signs of senility and lack of sanity in some of the schemes adumbrated by their rulers, suffered them to have their own way, hoping that everything would be fine finally. Even when they found their rulers swearing by the charka one day and switching on an Atomic Research Unit the other day, championing heavy industry this month, and inaugurating the small-scale industrial seminar the next month—however conflicting confusing and paradoxical their ways appeared, the people bore everything with patience, rarely to be found elsewhere. And yet, after unquestioned power for over ten years, the rulers have not solved the basic problems. There is still hunger and want, disease and desolation, unemployment and a host of other ills. The people are bled white with taxation. The country as a whole is heavily mortgaged. The plutocrats are parading their cadillacs while the people are asked to produce more and eat less. The rulers have to answer for this—for their inability to deliver the goods. The people have got the democratic right of placing the rulers on the dock, to demand an explanation. The people are so magnanimous that they have not as yet taken their rightful role. And because of this, we find you, Sir, usurping the role which is by right the people’s. When the culprit usurps the judge’s chair, we know what kind of verdict we get.

Sir, the charge that I venture to frame is this! You have no right to demand an explanation from the people, for the mess that the rulers have created. You are beginning at the wrong end! Knocking at the wrong door!

Let me just wink over the lack of logic, for a moment. Granting that, that is the question the people have to answer, shall I tell you, Sir, what the people say. You would not have met them at close quarters. No! There is a ring of lords in rich robes and ladies with the minimum, and the people are kept at a distance. To meet them, you have to saunter along ‘angadies’! And the moment you hear, what they talk, pardon me, Sir, much of the pleasure and pride that your travels to Bonn and Tokyo, London and Berlin, New York and Damascus, Rialto and the Taj, would fade out. The people are now-a-days a bit vocal, and loud also. Our rulers are novices—meddling in everything only to mar them. They indulge in tall talks and vend sweet promises. They are puffed up with power and arrogance is eating into their very vitals.

I have avoided the harsher words, and given but the ‘presentables’.

Sir, the people are betrayed. Their problems are left unsolved. And the time is fast approaching, for the rulers, to answer the charges levelled against them by the public—for the many acts of commission and omission. And for a philosopher like your goodself, to add insult to injury, is to say the least, most unjustifiable and makes one think that your philosophy is failing you The answer to the question, ‘why has not the country progressed’ is to found, in many of the files, to be found in the pigeon holes of the offices, where, your comrades reign superb. The lack of imagination with which schemes are drafted, the lack of co-ordination as between the various wings of the administration, the lack of efficiency in execution, and above all, the lack of definite policy—therein lies the answer to your questions. Ten years have gone, and still, your colleagues are not sure about their political philosophy. They sing sonnets on Socialism and rejoice in the Rook-’n’-roll with industrial and financial magnates! They announce that Socialism is their goal, but refuse to accept the well-known interpretation and cook up their own!

They are in the Commonwealth, but swear by strict neutrality. They are eager for American aid, but have a soft corner in their hearts for Soviet Russia. They promenade with Krushchev and indulge in a serenade with Marshall Tito.

They extend their friendly arms to the four corners of the globe but have failed to solve the Kashmir problem and the Goa problem. They are keen about Panch Shila while placing more and more orders for the latest and deadliest weapons. They keep the people breadless and go on piling up the military stores. If an answer is needed, here is the place, Sir, and you know more about them, than poor me; I could get the news only second hand. The country has not progressed—but the cause for it, is certainly not the dishonesty, and corruption of the people.

The people, you have stated, are dishonest—it is an ugly abuse, an insult. Let me wink even over this for a moment. Pray, what is the cause for the degeneration? Have you given an explanation? Have you any?

In your haste and perhaps infuriation, you forget one basic fact. The people about whom you have such a contemptible view—they were under the tutelage of the Congress party for nearly sixty years! The people whom you dub as dishonest, corrupt and degenerate—had the unique benefit of listening to and learning from Mahatma Gandhi. The Congress did not only claim to be the liberating force, but also a moral force. In fact Gandhian politics rested on what was termed moral force, and a whole set of political philosophy was formulated. ‘Truth and Ahimsa’—were the tenets not tactics, declared Gandhi. The Congress controlled the conscience of the people—nurtured their thought and guided their action. And may I ask, the eminent philosopher, how could such a people be corrupt and degenerate and dishonest? Was your ground-work so weak that within ten years, the whole moral edifice has gone rot? Leave alone these ‘dishonest, corrupt and degenerate’ people—we have still amidst us, the stalwarts, the stout and strong men, to guide the people, along the Gandhian path. Are their strength of no avil? Or, are they themselves un- Gandhian?

Surely, freedom for this subcontinent was got, not through Machiavellian methods, but by and through the moral force. That force was enough to tame the lion—it has become vegetarian! And how could a people who were bred and brought up under the aegis of such a mission, remain or become dishonest, corrupt and degenerate? It is, to say the least, baffling!

And pray, will the philosopher answer one other query? What do the people gain by being dishonest corrupt and degenerate? No material property—they are herded in hovels, and semi-starvation is their lot.

No! Sir! The people are not dishonest and corrupt and degenerate! The ‘afflicted’ are elsewhere but they don on grabs of respectability and authority. They defy and distort law. Only the other day the Parliament was discussing about the exploits of a Sen on the foreign exchange front!

The people are honest and law abiding. They have still an abiding faith in moral values, in spite of grinding poverty and oppression. They find their ‘Masters’ becoming selfish, arrogant, and yet submit meekly to their authority, always expecting the sunshine. It is from the hovels that the hymns of humility, piety and nobility are to be heard—mansions have become hotbeds of sensuality and audacity. Plots are hatched there, cabinets are made and unmade over cocktail parties, contractors arrange and pay for the ‘gana-parties’ and therein we find degeneration not in places where the people sweat and yet starve. To keep them in such thraldom is cruel, and to accuse them for this state of affairs, is the unkindest cut. I am shocked to find, so sober a philosopher making such a wild statement.

Sir, your wild statement, is bound to receive world-wide attention—you are the Vice-President of the Republic! And pray, ponder for moment, what havoc it would cause. In many a foreign clime, there would be giggles, ‘Ah! these people in India, they are dishonest, corrupt and degenerate! Haven’t you read, Dr. Radhakrishnan’s downright condemnation?”—Tommies would be talking in such vein. And that is the precious gift that you present to the people, for all the warmth and adoration that they show towards you and your colleagues.

Honesty demands, Sir, that the ‘Masters’ should take the full responsibility for the sorry state of affairs in the country. They should be honest enough to tell the people, that, they have not been able to deliver the goods, and either pray for some more time, or permission to retire! Instead, you have taken upon yourself the task of explaining the failure of your colleagues, by finding out scapegoats. That is neither philosophy nor politics and certainly, that is not the answer for the question, ‘why has not this country progressed?’

While you were passing such a sweeping statement, denouncing the people as dishonest and corrupt, they were perhaps shedding hot tears because their sacrifice is a hard one, and because their strength and patience are failing them. They are conscious of the fact, that they are bearing the full weight of the pompous machinery that has been built up after the advent of freedom. And, alas, they are also conscious of the fact, that their expectations have not been realised. They are slowly being disillusioned and it is just at this juncture that you thought it scholarly and masterly to hit them, nay, spit on them so very disparagingly!

They demand better life, fuller life, for which they have paid in their sweat and tears and blood. And your comrades are not able to deliver the goods! You have a right to plead for patience; explain the intricacies of the problem but never, the right to hurl savage abuses-insults.

“If the people are dishonest corrupt and degenerate” the statesmen of various countries would argue after the giggle “who is to be held responsible? Are not the tallest men, those who wield such unquestioned power over the masses, to be held responsible?” And, pray forgive me if I say that the line of argument that would be naturally pursued, would do no good, either to the rulers or to the ruled. You have indulged in an abominable accusation little realising the implications and repercussions. We have the right the expect an explanation and hope it would be forthcoming—provided the usual malady generated from the gilded chamber has yet not caught hold of you.

Yours sincerely,