Along with cheers of freedom, determination for self-restraint and discipline are also needed.
NEW DELHI: On the occasion of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, these days there is discussion and buzz not only of political and economic changes, but of social reforms as well. Enthusiasm or resistance to power is natural in a democracy. Once a book “Who after Nehru” was written in 1993. I also wrote a book, “Who after Rao”. Till then, only the leaders who grew up under the umbrella of the Congress in the country continued to be the Prime Minister. Then I kept a chapter on Atal Bihari Vajpayee, along with other Congress leaders. In the present era, no leader is visible in front of the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His impression is found in all the surveys of the country and abroad, and from far-flung villages to metropolis. There is a regional contender from every part of the country. Even Mamata Banerjee, Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Nitish Kumar, KCR, and Arvind Kejriwal seem to cherish the dream of becoming Prime Minister.
Movements and satyagrahas are being done in the name of freedom, democracy, and Mahatma Gandhi. But is the demonstration with violent supporters on the streets with security guards and the confrontation with the police, a ‘Satyagraha’ in the true sense? There was a foreign British Raj in the freedom movement. Now, apart from the Centre, there are governments with different parties in the states. A demonstration of a disciplined movement for public problems will be called a democratic right. Such violence is not commonly seen in demonstrations in other democratic countries like America, Britain, and Germany. During 75 years in our country, people of almost all views were in power, remained in opposition, and then came to power. But how much attention was given to duties and responsibilities, along with freedom and rights?
Nowadays, Congress leaders are talking about the danger to freedom. Therefore, it would be appropriate to mention the important thing said by the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in a programme of editors on 13 August 1954. Nehru had said, “I firmly believe that there is no such thing as abstract freedom. Freedom is related to responsibility, whether it is the freedom of the nation or the freedom of the individual, the freedom of the group, or the freedom of the press. Therefore, whenever we consider the question of liberty, we must also think about duty, which is associated with liberty. If responsibility and commitment are not attached to it, then freedom also slowly disappears.”
At the time of the elixir of freedom, it is strange that the opposition or some people mourn that democracy has ended in the country. The country is on the verge of ruin, and instead of the poor, only two to four industrialist-traders were given billions of rupees, they say. No government can deny the problem of poverty, and unemployment, nor can it be helpless for it. But you can also see hundreds of people lying on the streets from poverty in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles in a prosperous nation like America. In proportion to population, more people died during the corona epidemic in America and Britain than in India. There is a shortage of doctors and nurses in London. This may not cause arrogance, but it should be accepted that in Delhi and India, the government and society together save the lives of more people better than in other countries. In which country could 80 crore people be given free food grains? The metropolis has certainly been distracted by problems. But are the people of villages and towns not getting more facilities than before? Food items in Delhi are worth Rs seventy, people are not so affected by inflation if they get Rs fifteen-twenty a kg in that village town. Similarly, in government records, census, business and job columns are filled with names and addresses. Those who earn an average of Rs two thousand a day and Rs fifty thousand a month based on daily or hourly or any kind of work like electrician, plumber, artisan, do not have any government record. Not only this, they are added to the number of unemployed.
If there had not been progress during the previous years, how could the production or export of food grains have increased manifold? If lakhs of poor get a small house, gas connection, and insurance for treatment up to Rs five lakh to the poor, is it not an important step to remove poverty? These schemes are not limited to only BJP-ruled states. Lakhs of families have been and are getting benefited in non-BJP ruled states. In recent years, thousands of educated youth from small towns have gone to America, Europe, or other countries to find jobs. Is this not the benefit of freedom and progress? Those who are investing capital in a legal way abroad instead of in India are also a sign of India’s progress. If the condition of India was pathetic, how could companies from rich countries come forward to invest capital? Yes, there are still many shortcomings, and there is a long race for economic development. But can it be dependent only on governments for this? Other people have to have a proper environment and fulfill their responsibilities.
If there is only ruckus, sloganeering and dharnas in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies, there will be only ruckus, sloganeering and dharna, not positive debate, discussion, and then freedom and democracy will not be considered to be devoid of duty towards the constitution. How can free expression mean the right to spread anarchy? Along with the cheers of freedom, the determination for self-restraint and the dutifulness of discipline are also necessary.
The author is editorial director of ITV Network India News and Aaj Samaj.