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Re: 1 out of 150: AR's Reply




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Arindam,

I think there is widespread agreement about the deteriorating state of
our social, moral , and ethical values, and most of what you said is not

in dispute. Each one of us can associate ourselves with this grim
reality if we happen to know anything about present day India. When you
say the following :

"How can I sing a happy song when there are tears all around me ?"

I think I can relate to it. This sad reality is just the sad reality of
our own society, debates cannot justify facts otherwise.

All of us feel bad about it. But some of us must overcome the pain and
look for reasons to keep hope alive.

Just as we are less then perfect in reporting about facts in news media
these days, we have been equally irresponsible about recording our own
recent history which would show clearly that until even this 20th
century, killings and murders on the basis of caste and religions were
not just some academic statistics, but there were real faces of people
who could not live their lives because others thought they didn't
deserve to live. We only remember the generalized sweeping reforms such
as Gandhian revolution that marked the beginning of the end of
untouchability, but thousands, or perhaps millions of those who suffered

while the practice was prevalent, largely got ignored by historians or
became parts of some generalized statistics. If we care to recall the
past with our own life experiences, I think we are getting better, even
though some things might at the same time, be getting out of control
unless checked soon enough.

On your example of the plight of the civil servants. What you said is
generally true, except for the fact that, there is,though very
insignificant, nonetheless, other side of the coin. Politicians are
generally considered corrupt, and Civil servants, the bureaucrats are
generally considered more educated, morally and ethically better, and
still, most of the times, frustrated because of not being able to do
what they consider to be the best thing for the country. Facts generally

support this assumption, and therefore, there is nothing wrong with
being compassionate about this issue.

However, there is another part, which could be termed as a sort of
"superiority complex" that many of our bureaucrats go through believing
they deserve more respect and power then the "Doti clad", less educated,

and often not that sophisticated politicians. If I may guess, there is
perhaps some passed on legacy of british colonialism in it.

Anyway, rather then generalizing on issues, and believing on someone's
opinions, no matter whether the individual is a Civil servant or a
political activist, I prefer getting closer to individual facts and
forming opinions purely on the basis of facts rather then where it came
from.

I have a very good example of a famous bureaucrat, who has done wonders
for India. I think you know the name of Mr. T.N. Seshan, the firebrand
former Chief Election Commissioner of India, who is rightly recognized
for overhauling the election commission and with his firm,though
somewhat high-handed approach, he managed to return people's faith in
one of the basic foundations of our democracy. He was awarded the famous

Megaseysey award.

This famous Mr. Seshan came to the United States couple of years ago.
Before that, there were rumors about him running for the Presidential
elections, and Bal Thakre of Shiv Sena had already offered his support
etc. Just like millions of Indians who followed his tenure as CEC, I too

was sort of a fan of Mr. Seshan until I got a chance to see him speak
his mind.

I had known all along that though the integrity of this gentleman could
not be questioned, but he seldom believed in other people's ability to
do the right things. In his club, he is a dictator, and only he is right

all the time. Knowing that I took interest in matters related to India,
I was summoned to participate in this get together where Mr. Seshan was
to speak.

We, as a community, being so hungry of Charismatic leaders in our
society after the demise of the Nehru Dynasty, the hosts left no stone
unturned in trying to praise Mr. Seshan. There was even explicit demand
stated by every speaker who spoke before and after him, about conferring

"Bharat Ratna" to him.

Mr. Seshan starts to speak, and he clarifies that he hates
environmentalists like Medha Patkar etc. who are creating troubles in
implementation of Narmada Projects etc. Till that point it was all
right, then Mr. Seshan goes on to the extent of not recognizing the
territorial sovereignty of Pakistan while trying to suggest that there
is land on that part of the world that belongs to India (not talking
about Kashmir here). Finally comes the point of question answer
sessions, after he himself had clearly stated in his speech, rather
arrogantly that every politician of our land is corrupt, and he hated
every political party as well as politician, and that he deserved to be
either the President or the Prime Minister of India (by this time I was
thoroughly puzzled and started wondering whether Mr. Seshan believed in
our democratic system or not!)

Anyway, I submit my question to him, which was skipped by the moderator
in an effort to filter out difficult questions. Then I got a chance to
confront him and directly ask. Since he himself expressed his desire to
be either the Prime Minister or the President of India, and despite such

vast pool of talent in India, which is famous for its achievements in
the fields of Information Technology, Science, Engineering etc. around
the globe, and not much of that talents goes towards the profession of
politics, why doesn't he, him being the rare personality who has done so

much for India, take on the task of encouraging new generation to join
politics and clean up our democracy?

His simple answer was, "For that to happen, I am going to have to join
politics!"

His one line remark had told me a lot, lot about his personal beliefs,
his lack of respect for the democratic institutions. It was almost
frightening to see such a popular national figure, a darling of
millions, make generalized statements about politics and politicians,
had such unsophisticated opinions about neighboring countries, and yet
he almost demanded that he deserved to be the Prime Minister or the
President of India.

Our system is bad enough, we don't need to form sweeping opinions as to
whether Civil Servants are morally better then the politicians or the
politicians are generally corrupt. Every time such a generalization is
made, my heart goes to the politicians I personally have been following
for years, and who are sort of my heroes, who go on doing their duty,
for they believe in our system of democracy and care enough about the
poor and ignored.

Thank You.

Umesh



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