By Justice Markandey Katju
Someone told me “Justice Katju, you say you wish to keep away from controversies, but why it that controversies keep chasing you ?”
I replied that while it is true that I wish to be uncontroversial, but at the same time I have a great defect, and that is this: I cannot remain silent when I am seeing my country going downhill. Even if others are deaf and dumb I am not. So I will speak out. As Faiz said:
“Bol ki lab azad hain tere
Bol zubaan ab tak teri hai”
In our Shastras it is written:
“Satyam bruyat, priyam bruyat, na bruyat satyam apriyam”
Which means “Speak the truth, speak the pleasant, but do not speak the unpleasant truth”
I wish to rectify this. The country’s situation today requires that we should say “Bruyat satyam apriyam” i.e. “Speak the unpleasant truth”.
When I said that 90% Indians are fools I said an unpleasant truth. The truth is that the minds of 90% Indians are full of casteism, communalism, and superstitions. Consider the following:
1. When our people go to vote in elections, 90% vote on the basis of caste or community, not the merits of the candidate. That is why Phulan Devi, a known dacoit-cum-murderer was elected to Parliament merely because she belonged to a backward caste which had a large number of voters in that constituency. Vote banks in India are on caste and community basis, which are manipulated by some unscrupulous politicians and others.
2. 90% Indians believe in astrology, which is pure superstition and humbug. Even a little commonsense tells us that the movements of stars and planets has nothing to do with our lives. Yet T.V. channels showing astrology have high T.R.P. ratings.
3. Cricket has been made into a religion by our corporatized media, and most people lap it up like opium. The real problems facing 80% people are socio-economic ---- poverty, massive unemployment, malnourishment, price rise, health care, education, housing etc. But the media sidelines or minimizes these real issues, and gives the impression that the real issues are lives of film stars, fashion, cricket, etc. When Rahul Dravid retired the media depicted it as a great misfortune for the country, whereas when Sachin Tendulkar scored his 100th century it was depicted as a great achievement for India. Day after day the media kept harping on this, whereas the issues of a quarter million farmers suicides, and 47% Indian children being malnourished, was sidelined.
4. I had criticized the media hype of Dev Anand’s death at a time when 47 farmers in India were committing suicide on an average every day for the last 15 years. A section of the media attacked me for doing so, but I reiterate that I see no justification for the high publicity given by the media to this event for several days. In my opinion, Dev Anand’s films transported the minds of poor people to a world of make believe, e.g. a hill station where Dev Anand was romancing some girl. This gave temporary relief for a couple of hours to the viewers from their lives of drudgery. Such films, to my mind, serve no social purpose, but act instead like a drug or alcohol to send the viewer temporarily from his miserable existence to a beautiful world of tinsel.
5. In the recent Anna Hazare agitation in Delhi the media hyped the event as a solution to the problem of corruption. In reality it was, as Shakespeare said in Macbeth:
“A tale, told by an idiot
Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”
At that time if anyone had raised some logical questions he would have been denounced as a ‘gaddaar’ or ‘deshdrohi’. The people who collected at Jantar Mantar or the Ramlila ground displayed the mob mentality, which has been accurately described by Shakespeare in ‘Julius Caesar’.
After Caesar’s murder Mark Antony stirred up the Roman mob, which went around seeking revenge from the conspirators. One of the conspirators was named Cinna. The mob caught hold of another man, also named Cinna, who protested that he was Cinna the poet and not Cinna the conspirator. Despite his protest the mob said “Hang him for his bad verses” and lynched him.
The Janlokpal Bill, 2011 (whose full text is available online) defines an act of corruption as an act punishable under Chapter IX of the Indian Penal Code or under the Prevention of Corruption Act vide section 2(e). Section 6(a) of the Bill says that the Lokpal will exercise superintendence over investigation of acts of corruption, and section 6(c) empowers the Lokpal to punish for acts of corruption after giving a hearing. Section 6(e) authorizes the Lokpal to initiate prosecution and section 6(f) authorizes him to ensure proper prosecution. Section 6(i)(j) authorize him to receive complaints.
Section 2 (c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act define a public servant very widely. It includes not only government servants but also a host of other categories e.g. an employee of a local body, Government Corporation, judge, certain office bearers of some co-operative societies, officials of Service Commission or Boards, Vice Chancellors and teachers in the University, etc.
As pointed out by me in my article” Recreating Frankenstein’s Monster” published in “Indian Express” on 31.3.2012 there are about 55 lac, (5.5 million) government employees in India (13 lac in Railways alone), and there would be several lac persons of other categories coming within the definition of public servant in the P.C Act. Obviously one person cannot supervise and decide the lacs of complaints against them which would pour in. Hence thousands of Lokpals, maybe 50,000 or more, will have to be appointed to deal with them. They will have to be given salaries, housing, offices, staff, etc. And considering the low level of morality prevailing in India, we can be fairly certain that most of them will become blackmailers. It will be creating a parallel bureaucracy, which at one stroke will double the corruption in the country. And who will guard these Praetorian guards? A body of Super Lokpals ?
All this was not rationally analyzed and instead the hysterical mob that gathered in Jantar Mantar or Ramlila ground in Delhi thought that corruption will be ended by shouting “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Inquilab Zindabad”.
It is time that Indians woke up to all this. When I call 90% of them fools my intention was not to harm them, rather it was just the contrary. I want to see Indians prosper, I want poverty and unemployment abolished, I want the standard of living of the 80% poor Indians to rise so that they get decent lives.
But this is possible when their mindset changes, when their minds are rid of casteism, communalism, and superstitions, and instead they become scientific and modern.
By being modern I do not mean wearing a nice suit or beautiful sari or skirt. Being modern means having a modern mind, which means a rational mind, a logical mind a questioning mind, a scientific mind. At one time India was leading the whole world in science and technology (see my article ‘Sanskrit as a language of Science’ on the website kgfindia.com). That was because our scientific ancestors like Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Sushrut, Charak, etc questioned everything. However, we subsequently took to the unscientific path of superstitions and empty rituals, which has led us to disaster. Today we are far behind the West in Science and Technology.
The worst thing in life is poverty, and 80% of our people are poor. To abolish poverty we need to spread the scientific outlook to every nook and corner of our country. It is only then that India will shine. And until that happens the vast masses of our people will continue to be taken for a ride.