Oh, For A Youthful Leadership

Written by Malvika Singh | Updated: Apr 20 2002, 05:30am hrs
The Prime Minister of India has finally stated his position on Gujarat and the Muslim communities across the world. He was unequivocal. All that moderate talk over the years to remain in power at the centre in a coalition is now a thing of the past. It was a great learning experience to be the Prime Minister of one billion people, be non-committal about the true agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party, wait for the right time, and then go the whole hog with the sangh parivar where the BJP has always been the administrative arm.

Some of us always believed this and saw what was beneath the transparent veneer. Others saw avuncular good. Today, the clear choice is before us. Are we a modern nation or one swamped in bigotry Are we liberated or caged in deep-rooted insecurity which compels us to hit out in this crass and uncouth way which is wholly against the tenets of Hinduism Do majority communities behave in this irrational manner Soon, the gods will punish the guilty for inflicting this horror of the dark ages on India in the new millennium.

We have regressed to such an extent that it is an embarrassment to be an Indian and a Hindu in ones own country. In fact, the events in India do not make news anywhere in the world because we are seen as a write-off, a country wallowing in the worst kind of poverty, bigotry, corruption, and civil unrest. What has become apparent over the last month is the mediocrity of the leadership in India, leadership of all hues that make up the coalition that rules us.

Suddenly, the contrast with the opposition is stark and revealing. A liberal space lies there, on the other side. Yes, many of us are abused for our liberal stances, beliefs, lifestyles and philosophy. We are damned and called pseudo secularists only because we abhor the killings and assaults on human beings, in fact on all living things. Well, many of us would rather be pseudo than fascist.

Genocide in India was unimaginable. I remember spouting that India would never go through ethnic cleansing and suchlike because Hinduism was not a religion, it was a way of life. It had the resilience to accept and absorb.

Todays political definition and version of this faith has reduced its strength fundamentally. Yes, the polarisation, because of the genocide in Gujarat, may win an election there for the BJP, and a national mandate may also go to the same party. But for how long One has to flip a few pages of history. Hitler, too, won over his people!

While going through this traumatic, brutal, and futile exercise, we will have put India and one billion people two centuries or more back in time. If that is what the majority community wants, good luck to it. Finally, it is the people who will pay the price for their vote.

May be this is our trial of fire, our bloody revolution before we emerge as a modern State. At this point in time we look like some bizarre, inward looking, parochial, and regressive land mass that is isolated and of no consequence to the rest of the world. China has taken the real front seat and is well on its way to prosperity. Indias pride is its past. Its present is vulgar.

There was some sanity that came across the television screens in recent days and that was the address of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, to her chief ministers. It spoke of real issues, it attacked the horrors of our society, and it clearly projected the priorities that India, regardless of its castes and creeds, needs to implement.

In the mini holocaust that has overtaken us, this was the sliver of light. She was forceful and spoke with a passion about what is being inflicted upon our society. There is a clear change in the Congress agenda.

The party seems to have moved away from the past, and its failed politics, to a new position. It seems to be looking ahead and with fresh conviction. It will, if it goes on in this systematic manner, redesign itself for the future and build into the alternative for the next generation.

That generation wants to move forward and away from restrictive leadership. We are sick of seeing the old and infirm at the helm of our country. Everything seems to be in slow motion. They all appear to be doddering. The ancient Hindus had a wonderful solution for the age game. They went into retirement at the age of 60. They made way for the next generation. Recall This should be the mandate for the leadership of the BJP, the hindutva party. They should stand by the tenets of their faith. Retire all ministers who have crossed 60. Banish them into sanyas. Make way.

The third front is once again getting all excited about the possibilities of this government falling which will, they believe, give them a chance to project and present their Prime Ministerial candidate Jyoti Basu. This obsession with old age pensioners is truly laughable. And finally, in the wings, there is the Presidential election. Some of the candidates are in their early eighties! They must most definitely be disqualified. Let us stick to those in the running who are in their early seventies!