August 5, 2010

Mahabharata and Indian Politicians

I would like to begin by saying, "We read our history and mythology as stories. Rather than learning from them, we forget them like the dreams that awaken us to the very reality that we have created."

Last Sunday I came across the Mahabharata episodes on Youtube. Thanks to Rajashri, the production house that is famous for selling marriage videos as 3 hours movies, the entire B.R. Chopra master piece is available online. There is an age old saying that if there is anything possible in this world, it can be correlated to the events of the Mahabharata. I guess this is one of the reasons why even the great Oppenheimer quoted the Gita after the Trinity test. However, reading the news articles after seeing the Mahabharata I could see the Mahabharata in modern day politicians. I guess each one of us has such moments but I thought of writing my thoughts.

One of the biggest problems in current day Indian politics is that there is no leader and no successor. Sadly, this problem also has its roots mentioned in the Mahabarata. Before Shantanu's marriage to Satyavati the king had to choose from amongst his subjects the one who is most suitable to replace him. The successor to the throne was not necessarily the son of the king. Sadly blinded by his love for Satyavati he agreed to having Satyavati's children as his successor. This is as far as I remember the first occurrence of a child born to a king being nominated as the successor. Call it dynasty politics but this has stuck with India as has now become an Indian culture in politics. I guess Bharata would be glad that it is never referred to as भारतीय संस्कृति. Each of the current leaders and political parties sadly do not have a leader and a true successor.

Dr. Manmohan Singh:
To be frank, I would be wrong if I said he is not worthy of being a leader. In fact, he is the most qualified person and the best person currently alive to lead and run the country. Sadly he is neither running nor is he leading the country. I know silence is golden but at times words need to come out. Think of Arjuna sitting on the battle field and Krishna not speaking. Think of Oppenheimer having second thoughts on testing the bomb. Now think of the children in Kashmir, the soldiers in Kashmir, the tribals in Maoist belts, and all the people being affected by the zillions of problems in India. Words help, and words from a leader have the best healing power. Obama is the best example of this. Sadly what we hear from Manmohan Singh is silence and at times words written by bureaucrats. I am not sure what is compelling him to behave like a Dritarashtra. Why is he blind to these problems? Why is he letting Mamata burn the trains? It is like he has been made a PM because he is the most helpless creature amongst the ministers and the most easily manipulated. How could a great man like him let others treat him like this?

Pratibha Patil:
She is by far the best example of how some women are treated in the country. She is nothing more than a pawn. Replace her with a skimpily clad newsreader put on news channels to improve TRP ratings and the situation in the country would not change. She is to the idea of female liberation what the skimpily clad newsreader is to authenticity of the news. She is like the Dushala, who is the least mentioned person amongst her brothers and has the least say in what her brothers are up to. Even if we assume she is innocent, if a sister cant control her brothers who are close to her, how can she be fit lead the country? Sadly rather than being a great female leader such as Razia Sultana, Ahilyabai Holkar, Rani Chenamma, and Rani Laxmibai, this leader of the armed forces is the best symbol to advertise India as a soft state.

Lal Krishna Advani:
One of the biggest mistake this person made in his life is not groom leaders to replace him. We have potential leaders like Arun Jaitely, Sushma Swaraj, Nitin Gadkari, Jaswant Singh, and many more. However, not one of them stands out and appeals as a true leader; not one is capable of leading the others I mentioned. A good opposition is essential for democracy, else democracy becomes monarchy waiting for a tyrant to be born. I guess it is a problem of plenty but sadly not one of them is a true leader like Vajpayee who could stand out from the crowd. Further, there is a problem of dynasty politics entering this party as well. The biggest mistake that Indira Gandhi made was there was no one groomed to replace her; yes Narasimha Rao became a PM but the Congress became a shade of its past after his term ended. Now Vajpayee had Advani to follow, but no one after that. The 2009 results for BJP would remind any one the time of Congress under a guy called Kesari.

Now I have mentioned only the BJP and the Congress as the rest of the parties are no longer worthy of being mentioned. CPI I do not wish to mention. Consider what the communist party did to China from 1980 to 2010 and then look at what a communist party did to Bengal in the same time period. Bengal is the state of the greatest thinkers, the greatest artists. Creativity is in the heart of Bengal, hard work is in the heart of Bengal, yet sadly in this very state we have the Communists fighting with Maoists; each trying to redefine social justice and claiming to be on the true side of Dharma.

We the people are the ones who are responsible for this mess. The process of finding a leader and selecting a leader is in our hands and yet we prefer to stay in our houses enjoying the cool air of the fans and AC's rather than pressing a big button. I guess we act like Deedee from Dexters Lab asking the rhetorical question, What does this button do?. Jayprakash Narayan was useless without the crowds that came to listen to him. Abdul Kalam, one of the true presidents since independence, became a demi-god because of the support and faith he enjoyed. Yet despite the power we have we prefer to act helpless. There are many things that can be done. One just needs to listen to ones heart to compile a list of such things. One just needs to perform an action rather than sitting and waiting for some one else to do the right thing.

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