Saturday, August 3, 2013
“An Open Letter” to Prof Manmohan Singh
A letter of anguish to the PM from an Ex-Chief Justice of Kerala High Court, someone who has known the PM well and laments the state of values and governance we are in.
By JL Gupta
Esteemed Prof. Manmohan Singh!
I have resisted the temptation of writing to you for a long time. Now I am convinced that silence, is not an option. Please forgive me for taking the liberty of writing an open letter to you.
It was the year 1960. I had joined the Law College at the Punjab University. After some time, you had taken over a teaching assignment in the Department Of Economics. Both the departments were initially located in different buildings but were ultimately housed in the department of Chemical Engineering. So, I had an opportunity to see you fairly regularly. More than that, I also used to sometimes stay at the house of my uncle who was teaching Mathematics. He lived just opposite your house.
Those days, everyone believed that ‘economy is also a source of revenue.' I vividly remember that you used to walk from your house to the department every morning. Only occasionally, you were seen driving the Lambretta scooter. In fact, the teachers and students mostly used to only walk or cycle to their departments. Resultantly, all were physically fit and medical expenses were minimal.
The Leaders too lead by example. Even during the war with Pakistan, P.M. Shastri had preached and practised austerity. The guest control order was a simple but an effective measure to avoid wastage of food and discourage ostentatious living. He had lived by his principles. When a rail accident occurred during his tenure as Railway Minister, he had not only resigned without any loss of time but also refused to go back home in the official car. Therefore, the people valued his word.
Today, more than half a century has passed. The change is visible. We have grown materially but dwarfed morally. We have moved from austere existence to aristocratic style; from economy to extravagance. Resultantly, gold is our God. Money is the main mantra. From the love of values, we have fallen to the love of valuables. 'Politics', which was once considered 'public service is today described as a 'combination of two words - Poli which means many and Tics - known as the blood sucking insects.' And there is good evidence. BMWs have replaced the old Ambassadors. Our leaders like to live in luxury instead of putting in labour. Governance is conspicuous by its absence. Yet, the cost of governance continues to mount by the day. In Mahatma Gandhi's party, his principles are the first casualty at the hands of the party leaders. They talk of principles but act only on interest. They promise but do not perform. No wonder, some bureaucrats are following the unedifying example.
Still, we claim a high rate of growth. Yes! Corruption. Pollution. Shortages of potable water and power. A perennial shortage of beds in hospitals and seats in schools. Despite all the taxes and education cess etc. And we have depleted our natural resources. Devalued our currency to the rock bottom. Our rivers are reduced to dirty drains carrying human and industrial waste. Air is contaminated. Small children experience acute difficulty in breathing. A large number carry inhalers to schools. The green forests have vanished. There is no security of person or public and private property even in the NCR. In fact, even looking at the way the Chinese had set up various posts, the government's ability and will to defend the territorial integrity of India have been highly suspect. We had a great Opportunity to solve and settle the Kashmir issue when we had more than 90,0000 Pak soldiers and officers as Prisoners of war. We frittered it away for no reason. No wonder, the problem still persists.
And then, a question that bothers me is - what has freedom from foreign rule given to the poor illiterate people of India? One would have at least hoped for Freedom from want and hunger, inequality and untouchability. But no! The gap between the rich and poor has increased. Even the basic necessities are not available. Is this the JUSTICE that our Constitution promised to us? Are we not going through tougher times today than in the pre 1947 era? Who is responsible for the mess we are in? I shall pause for an answer.
The author of the letter is Shri Jawahar Lal Gupta, Ex- Chief Justice of Kerala High Court