Debate or the Lack of it

The lack of inner party debate has destroyed the Congress. Signing on the dotted line when told to or even when not, made the ‘party’ a plaything in the hands of the first family. The Congress high Command, a poor parody of its Wehrmacht equivalent, foisted unelected, unwanted Chief Ministers in states, ignoring local voices. This gave rise to regional parties. The Congress has never recovered. Not that the regional parties that have sprouted are any improvement on the national ones. The Indian politician is a thief first and last and the colours he/she sports do not improve the complexion.

Pakistan was created (it would not have been otherwise) when Jinnah decided that he had no hope of leadership in what he thought of as a Hindu-oriented Congress and joined the Muslim League, a party in which he was hopelessly out of place. But his leadership gave fresh impetus to the demand for Pakistan. In his first speech in Parliament after independence, which his government itself suppressed, he expressed the pious and rather far-fetched hope that Pakistan would be a place where its minorities would be able to fulfil their ambitions and hopes as equal citizens of a free country. The contradiction in his position as a leader who had successfully divided a country on religious lines, and now hoping that his country would offer equal opportunities to its own minorities never apparently struck him. What was partition about then? Anyway, true to form, his own acolytes did not take him seriously and promptly banned his speech. They then proceeded to marginalise the religious minorities in Pakistan with the result that today Pakistan is truly PAK — practically pure of any minority taint.

That digression apart, it was Gandhiji’s failure to engage with Jinnah that was probably at the root of Partition. Jinnah saw himself as the intellectual equal of any other leader in Congress and as a fellow Gujarathi, he wasn’t buying any of that stuff about Gandhiji’s saintliness. As a fellow barrister, he saw that as a pose affected by Gandhiji for political purposes. There is no doubt that Gandhiji was a shrewd politician, but he misread Jinnah and had a paternal fondness for Nehru. Too late, he asked Nehru to offer Jinnah the premiership, but Nehru was in no mood to assent. By then matters had gone too far. One can only wonder what would have happened if Gandhi and Jinnah had engaged in some kind of debate.

Lately our debates have touched a new low, or so it seems. Perhaps i have not been attentive. A girl who expresses an opinion about free speech is threatened with rape. I understand that this is fairly usual in certain circles in N India where this passes for reasoned argument, but to see otherwise sensible people support such threats is a bit much. i understand that Virendra Sehwag has withdrawn his comments, in keeping with my image of him as basically a decent chap, who unthinkingly tweeted a facetious comment for which he has been pilloried.

No one n India has a monopoly on political correctness. The leftists — the NSUI, the DYFI and the SFI — are as intolerant as the ABVP. All goons basically. Student politics is for the smart, a shortcut to political fortune. Break heads and get noticed and then who knows what may happen? The sky is the limit. See where strong arm tactics have got the Mukthar Ansaris, the Shahabuddins, the Prajapatis and their ilk. Ruling the roost from Parliament or from Tihar or Siwan — the go-to people when you have a problem.

The solution to student politics is to ensure that collge education is priced at market rates. When you (or your parents) are forced to pay 10 to 25 lakhs yearly for a degree in college, then perhaps the urge to throw stones at or beat up your fellow students or professors might seem a rather expensive hobby. I have always felt that while primary education should be a fundamental right, college education should be paid for. Another solution would perhaps be to have all aspiring student politicians serve as sahayaks in Siachen or the Valley or the NE. They would not then perhaps pontificate as much on patriotism as they do now.

What was partition about anyway? With each passing day, the differences between India and Pakistan diminish. There they are fanatical about Islam and its many versions and kill for the true faith. Here we have self-defined patriots who have done nothing for this country but loot it, but who profess a great love for this nation of whose history they know not a jot. With each passing day, the reasons for partition fade. instead of being divided by a common border which people who want to, cross with murderous impunity to carry out attacks on unsuspecting strangers, perhaps we should reunite so that the job can be done much more efficiently.



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Ramesh Sukumaran

Ex Indian Air Force fighter pilot and retired civil aviation captain, interested in history science and literature avtion