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 Principles of Politics
 
Please don't be silent, Prime Minister
Times Of India, India Sunday, January 02, 2011

Gurcharan Das
What price are we willing to pay for worldly success? Is it possible to be both successful and good? Why high status cannot be conferred on a person who is honest and kind? Our Prime Minister's silence in the 2G scandal has been deeply disturbing. India's corruption begins when one is born —you have to bribe someone to get a birth certificate. It ends when one dies, when you are forced to 'buy' a death certificate. Reforming is never easy, writes Gurcharan Das in Times Of India.

"The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty , understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness , greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and selfinterest , are the traits of success . And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second ." In these famous lines, John Steinbeck goes to the root of our present crisis in public morality.


...


Mahabharata's heroes come to mind because there are parallels between the epic's lament and the things we might say about our leaders today. Our republic has been in a state of continuing crises for months; the epic is a continuing repository of crises in public morality. Just as we have a problem with our governance institutions, so did the epic. What is at stake, both then and now, is our conception of success. Andimuthu Raja, former minister of telecommunications, causes us discomfort because he has undermined this conception. Until recently , Raja was a huge success in the world's eyes—he had power, money and status . Then he fell. We turn to Yudhishthira, the epic's unhero , to find out if there's another way of engaging with the world. He (and Steinbeck ) raise thorny questions : What price are we willing to pay for worldly success? Is it possible to be both successful and good? Why high status cannot be conferred on a person who is honest and kind?


The problem of silence is at the heart of today's political crisis. The rage of the Indian public is over an honest Prime Minister who seems to be presiding over one of the most corrupt governments in recent Indian history . In these dark days, people have desperately wanted to clutch on to an honest man. They found one in selfless, ethical Manmohan Singh.

...


Our Prime Minister's silence in the 2G scandal has been deeply disturbing. Soon after Raja announced his fraudulent policy in September 2007, the PM sensed that a crime of huge proportions was afoot. He wrote to Raja objecting to his policy, asking him to be transparent . Raja replied immediately , defending himself. On January 3, 2008, the PM acknowledged this letter—yes , 'acknowledged' , as though he had acquiesced. This gave Raja the go-ahead to issue the licences. In May 2010, the PM admitted that Raja had indeed written to him. Why did the PM fall silent after having objected to the policy?


Raja has shamed us before the world. We, however, have always known the ugly truth: India's corruption begins when one is born —you have to bribe someone to get a birth certificate. It ends when one dies, when you are forced to 'buy' a death certificate . In between lies a dreary life of civic unvirtue, of continuous rishwat and sifarish. Founded on such high ideals, why is India so corrupt? There is nothing wrong with our genes. And the issue that Yudhishthira and Steinbeck have raised is a universal problem. You cannot blame parents for wanting children to grow up to be winners in life's rat race. But you can teach children to do the right thing —not to be silent when they see a crime. You can also reduce corruption by reform of the institutions of governance .


...

Manmohan Singh understands this. This is why he promised to attack corruption through governance reforms in 2004 when he came to power. Reforming is never easy—it is like waging a war at Kurukshetra—but it must be done.

...

This article was published in the Times Of India on Sunday, January 02, 2011. Please read the original article here.
Author : Mr Das is columnist, and the author of "India Unbound"
Tags- Find more articles on - India | Manmohan Singh

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