9th January 2011
Kishore Asthana writes very thoughtfully. This email of his which I'm converting into a guest post (I've done so in the past with his permission so I assume he won't mind if I continue the practice), presents the problem of India very elegantly. I don't agree with everything he is suggesting (e.g. the view he has about 'hoarders' – for the solution to such things is different), but I agree with the overall thrust. I've seen the great difficulty in finding even 1500 leaders out of a population of 1,155,347,678 people. Barely 100 leaders so far. And that too mostly very feeble in their efforts.
This, unfortunately, is the India I was born into. A nation the honour and wealth of which was looted for thousands of years by foreigners. And now, being looted by its own people. And yet there is silence. Indeed, there is support for the corrupt. I am flabbergasted by the "hope" otherwise good people have of gang-leaders like Rahul Gandhi.
But I won't go on. Listen to Kishore Asthana. And if you are persuaded to DO something, then join FTI. One day I'm going to have to stop. This miserable response to my call for action (and of many others) is simply not acceptable. This can't go on. Either you rise to lead India, my friend, or I too shall join you in inaction and apathy. Let's all let the world (and our domestic thugs) trample us to dust, together. Shamelessly.
The Indian Mindset Prefers Inaction to Action
by Kishore Asthana
I grew up when the independence movement was still fresh in the minds of Indians. Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence and his non-cooperation movements were lauded all around. Indeed, they were major achievements, or so we thought.
Since then I have had the time to think about these in more depth. I have a feeling that Mahatma Gandhi’s movements were successful because these were were an exact fit for the Indian mindset. As, also for the British mindset.
To get the British out of the way first. I do not think such movements would have succeeded against German, Spanish or Portuguese colonizers. The Mahatma may have prematurely become a martyr, of course, since these colonizers were experts at removing such people without any moral scruples. Fortunately, by that time, the British had become more benign in this regard.
Now to the Indian mindset. I suspect that Indians supported non-violence because, despite the urging Bhagwad Gita, we tend to prefer in-action to action. Look at our history where we have lost countless opportunities just because we could not make up our mind to act courageously. Even at present, we are reluctant to take action against the corrupt. All this show of doing so at present is only because the Congress party fears a backlash. Left to themselves, they would have preferred to have continued with their inaction of the last few years. The venal, too are safe against resolute action as we see in the case of Afzal Guru and Kasab and, earlier, we saw in the case of the Kandahar hijacking and Mehbooba Mufti’s kidnapping and release.
Our incompetent are safe too. Very few face action for being incompetent in India even when children die in manholes callously left open. Our non-violence and incapacity to take action works in favor of the traitorous, too, as we see in the case of Indians with black money stashed away in Swiss bank accounts which we are reluctant to pursue. The greedy are left undisturbed by us. Even with food inflation at 18%, we do not act against the hoarders. There are so many other examples.
Our preference for official inaction has resulted in the country being virtually run by the Supreme Court on the behest of activists who file PILs. Without a court order, it appears even simple things like winter shelters for the home-less do not get built. Perhaps if someone was to get a judgment from the Supreme Court that provision of toilets should be mandatory in our villages, the government would be forced to take action. This would save hundreds of women who are raped when they venture out into the fields for their toilet every day. However, till forced to do so, the government would prefer not to take any action on this or on so many other such issues. It is indeed very revealing of our mind-set.
Other countries laugh at us. Dubai, which would blow away if India were to sneeze in its direction, harbors our criminals with impunity, knowing that we will take no action against it.
Yes, one can point out to the violence prevailing in our society. Indeed we have too much of it – violence against women, violence against the Dalits, violence against each other’s political parties, violence perpetrated by Naxalites and so on. However, these are all examples of the violence of the strong against the weak, where the threat of retaliation is minimal. Yes, even the Naxals are being violent against a weak state. These are not examples of violence – to coin a word, these represent vile-ence. As does the senseless inter-religious violence we see off and on.
I do not advocate violence. Most of the time it is pointless. Often, as we see above, it is vile-ence. However, sometimes violence may be justified. Violence against the hoarders, the corrupt, the venal, the traitorous, the greedy is essential if hoarding, corruption, venality etc. have to be eradicated. I do not mean physical violence by individuals. I mean well-directed, legally sanctioned violence in thought and action by the state. I mean effective action which would curb such practices.
Non-cooperation, again, is an idea whose time is past. We have all seen the effects of non-cooperation in our parliament. Non-cooperation by our unions has hampered industrial development, reducing some states to pitiable conditions. This again is an example of the victory of our preference for inaction over action.
Our vaunted ‘toleration’ is, also, to a large extent, an example of our love for inaction. Chalta hai, is an easy way of saying, “I cannot be bothered to do anything about it.” It appears that we view action as a slope and, instead of climbing it, we generally prefer to roll down to the lowest point.
Indeed, we Indians are very prone to inaction. As a nation, we are also prone to being prone. That is why the world walks over us. And, it will continue doing so till we change our mind-set and rise, head held high and say, we are willing to act.