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
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
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
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
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
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.