Today we are in the midst of Ramnavami celebrations in India. This is the birthday of legendary mythological King Rama. On this day we remember Lord Rama, India’s ultimate hero (Maryadapurushottam ) in our popular imagination. To the Indian masses he was a king only in form. He was a democrat in substance . He practised simplicity all his life. The prosperity of subjects--- the masses and minorities alike--- first was close to his heart . He was a warrior King who fought to honour every soul’s freedom. And so on.
On this day I sincerely wish Lord Rama’s commandments on the ruler’s duties towards citizens would inspire our post-colonial leaders . Occasionally, some of our leaders do stress freedom and simplicity, the values King Rama embodied . At a media conclave the other day, our President Pranab Mukherjee stressed the freedom of expression . Mukherjee invoked our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s quote "I do not want India to be a country in which millions of people say ‘yes’ to one man, I want a strong opposition.”
Mukherjee said : “Constitutional provisions must be respected in letter and spirit by all of us, especially those in positions of authority and in public life. Executive action and legislation must indeed conform to the Constitution .... The tendency of individuals and groups taking the law into their own hands should be strongly resisted.”
Addressing a rally at Batal Balina in Udhampur ( April 3, 2017) , Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized simplicity . He warned , "Sufi culture is priceless and if we forget this culture, we will forget our future too.”
Regrettably , however, there are few takers for the gospels of freedom and simplicity in Indian politics today . Most of our politicians just swear by such gospels . In practice , they are absolutely undemocratic and feudal . We all know freedom can flourish only in the culture of reason . That culture has increasingly been missing from among most of those in authority. Their behavioural pattern reflects their deep inclination to a culture of sycophancy . The successive dispensations at the Centre and in the states have seldom encouraged an environment in which the views of intellectuals outside the comfort zones of the ruling class could get appropriate space.
We all know simplicity or Sufism can flourish only in a state of selflessness. This has been missing across the Indian political spectrum. Most of our politicians are too obsessed with their own economic prosperity and prodigal life-style to care for the masses . As a result the masses continue to suffer in our country. Thousands of farmers have committed suicides in the country over the years . According to reliable reports, around 100 defence personnel commit suicides every year. As many as 125 military personnel ended their lives in 2016 alone.
Recently , Prime Minister Modi has promised to double the income of our farmers by 2022. According to our Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare “…The average income per agricultural household from various sources is estimated at Rs. 6,426/- per month ( July 2012 to June 2013).” In Bihar the average farmer income is just Rs 3,558 per month . In West Bengal it is Rs 3,980. Just imagine what the Modi-expected income increase can buy our farmers in 2022 !
Needless to add, even on the implementation of a recent decision of a state chief minister an unskilled worker’s minimum wage would be just Rs. 13,350 per month against the existing Rs. 9,724 per month. Semi-skilled and skilled workers would have it increased from Rs. 10,764 to Rs. 14,698 and from Rs. 11,830 to Rs. 16,182 per month respectively.Besides, our politicians have hardly cared for our constitutional directives for people’s welfare . Our Constitution directs the Government to see to it that there is no concentration of wealth in select hands. But our successive political leaderships have increasingly been indifferent to it. In the process certain anti-national forces have been stealing away our economic assets and laundering their black money in different ways.