Tuesday, 2 October 2007

On Gandhiji's Birthday

The Mahatma, God bless him, came up with many innovative strategies to fight a mighty imperial power--satyagrahas and fasts unto near death being some of the more memorable. It seems many of his innovative strategies are being misused by our modern-day politicians for their narrow political ends. So Mr. Karunanidhi decides he and his followers will go on a fast unto death to get their political agenda moving. Luckily, the Supreme Court stepped in to stop the bandh, but the fast carried on.

The Mahatma's ideas on civil disobedience were inspired by Thoreau, who himself refused to pay a local tax that would be used to finance the creation of a militia to fight Mexico and increase the extent of US territory then `controlled by the pro-slavery states.

There has to be some means whereby politicians are prevented from misusing such tactics, because the assumption amongst us lesser mortals is that if someone uses tactics once used by the Mahatma, he or she is fighting for a goal that would benefit all of India. This does not happen to be the case nowadays.

Is there no means whereby political parties can be prevented or restrained from using such disruptive strategies (bandhs, fasts, riots, damage to public property) and encouraged to use a more constitutional means to put their case before the public? For instance, why have politicians lost the art of debate--an ability to put forth their case logically before the public? Why do TV programmes that feature people holding widely divergent opinions, turn into shouting matches?
Why don't the political cadres who burn public transport vehicles get arrested or pay a fine for their destructive behaviour? This country needs public transport--it does not need people who destroy these vehicles. Why aren't such people sent to Siachen, where their destructive tendencies could be used to defend their country?

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