At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long supressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of Inida and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
These are excerpts from the famous speech delivered by Pandit Jawaherlal Nehru when India became Independent on the midnight of August 15 1947. The world’s largest democracy became functional on that midnight with the hope of millions of building a nation strong and vibrant, a democratic republic providing justice to all, treating all humans with equality, with the mantra of peace and progress, a society free of corruption and social evils.
At the midnight on June 5 2011, not far away from the place where Pandit Nehru delivered his Indian independence speech 64 years ago – thousands of people who had gathered to join Baba Ramdev to peacefully protest against the rampant corruption in the administration were denied the same Freedom – Freedom to peacefully protest, freedom to speak against the evil of corruption and the mindless looting of the country’s wealth.
64 years ago Nehru had promised
We shall never allow that torch of freedom to be blown out, however high the wind or stormy the tempest.
64 years later, his very own Congress party sent thousands of policemen to forcefully evacuate peacefully gathered protesters led by Baba Ramdev whose demand was to bring back the thousands of crores of Indian Black money illegally stashed away abroad by corrupt people in power. The freedom of torch was blown out when a case of rioting was booked against peacefully demonstrating protesters. The freedom of Torch was blown out when the government forcefully evacuated its very own citizens in the darkness of midnight.
The reason police gave for evacuating Baba Ramdev and other protesters? Baba Ramdev had booked the Delhi’s Ramleela ground to conduct an Yoga camp and not for organizing any agitation! Fair enough. But hadn’t Baba Ramdev and his followers declared about carrying out the fast against corruption and the protests weeks ago? Government knew about this, every school kid knew about it, TV channels were running 24×7 coverage about the protest, didn’t the Delhi police knew about it then? Why didn’t they question the organizers then? Why did they allow the protest to start in the first place?
Why did they wait even after the protests started, and till the midnight of the next day? What was such an emergency to arrest and evacuate protesters in the midnight when they were sleeping? Cant they have waited till next morning?
The government says that they have agreed to all the demands of Baba Ramdev, that they will start monitoring the moves of those who visit Tax Havens unnecessarily, that they will declare Black Money as national asset and so on. First, the government should slap itself with shame. Does the government require a Baba Ramdev or Anna Hazare to start a movement to make the government realize that its important to recover all illegal Black Money stashed abroad, or to pass a Lokpal Bill after 64 years in an effort to eradicate corruption in day to day life?
If people of a country are required to PROTEST demanding for basic cleanliness in public life, that itself is the biggest shame for any government. For it is the basic duty of every government and political party to ensure that people have faith in the democratic process and to make sure that the public do not have to face corruption in the society. Instead what government does is, use police force to silence the peaceful protesters. Isn’t this murder of democracy? How different was the attack by police at the midnight at the Ramleela ground from the attack by British on peaceful protesters led by Mahatma Gandhi in the pre-independence era? I am not sure that even under British rule was there ever an incidence of attack on peaceful protesters by police during a midnight.
If the government cannot guarantee basic cleanliness in public life and requires protests to be organized to force it to eradicate corruption, what bigger hopes and dreams can its citizens have about larger development of the society, strong nation, superpower country etc? India aspires to become a global power, wants a global role, a permanent seat at the UN security council, wants an Indian to be IMF chief and what not – can such an aspiring role in the democratic world be possible when back at home you are arresting and evacuating peaceful protesters making legitimate demands about eradicating corruption in the society? Can somebody imagine this happening in any democratic western society where police pounce upon peaceful protesters in the darkness of midnight when you are at sleep? What right does the Indian government now have to talk about human rights violations in China?
Not in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine the possibility of the Government of India using force and that too at midnight against peaceful protesters, who had raised an important issue of utmost national interest. Without eradicating corruption in the society, forget about becoming a super power, India cannot even provide two meals a day for its entire population- not everybody works in a multi national company or a software company.
The government had started NREGA scheme with the good intent of providing employment to all youth in the rural areas, and rampant corruption had ensured that those in power make quick bucks by falsely listing thousands of non-existing beneficiaries. Is this how we aspire to become a super power. If a government can’t even ensure that its well intended schemes are not executed properly and the benefits not receiving the true beneficiaries, and in contrast it uses force to climb down on peaceful protests against this corruption – where is the hope of a prosperous democracy?
Digvijay Singh has called Baba Ramdev a “Thug“. Isn’t it obvious from the midnight drama who the real “Thug” is? Only invaders from outside are known to attack in the midnight. How many criminal cases have been registered against Baba Ramdev so far? Has Digvijay Singh ever looked at the number of MPs, MLAs and politicians in this country with criminal track records related to heinous crimes? Digvijay should remember that the lakhs of people gathered at the Ram Leela Maidan or the millions supporting these protests across the country are not paid or hired crowd, the way political parties organize their gatherings, where people are paid to attend their political meetings. The people gathered at Delhi not just came on their own will, but they themselves donated money for this cause, to organize fans and shades to help the children, women and elderly citizens participating in the protests withstand the summer heat.
Not a day passes in this country without the honorable Supreme Court taking government to task on corruption, scandals and black money, so much so that the CBI is made to investigate 2G spectrum scandal under the directions of the Apex court itself. Even after repeated queries from the Supreme Court, the government has not yet agreed to make public the list of Black Money offenders it has.
I sincerely hope that the judicial system of this country will intervene if legislature fails to protect the democratic rights of its citizens and the future of this great democracy – great not by its administrators, but by its people. As I keep chanting the same Mantra – China is whatever it is today because of its government, and India is whatever it is today INSPITE of its government.
If India could achieve SO MUCH inspite of rampant corruption, vote bank politics, red tapism and inefficient administration. Just imagine how much we can achieve if we are able to get rid of all these evils in our society.