It’s not just deterioration of environment..!
The accelerated deterioration in dignity and culture right from politics to society is a matter of serious concern for all of us.The word environment comes from Sanskrit meaning ‘around’. Simply put, whatever is around us, is part of the environment. It is also nature, society, culture and our civilization, too. The real meaning of the protection of environment should be protection of all those elements that are necessary for the Earth’s sustenance and are essential to human civilization.
Indian civilization and culture are among handful of those civilizations where the Earth gets the status of mother, where there is the provision for worship of tree, water, air and fire which are considered equivalent to the Almighty. An idea of this vision of our civilization can be gauged from the message: ‘Vasudhaiva kutumbakkam’. We believe the whole world is our family. In a country as diverse and plural as ours, when we see the steep fall in the standard of public discourse and the use of indecent language, it is but natural that we should feel hurt. One wonders at the linguistic downfall in the country’s political discourse.
Before discussing the political mood and the weather, let’s see what the condition of the Earth is. NASA scientists are telling us that in the last 135 years, the Earth has warmed up by around 0.8°C. And analysis of this data reveals that two-thirds of the heat has grown in the last forty years. So when I look at discernible, a similar trend is visible. Once upon a time, our politics had been more decent than that of any other country in the world. Bapu’s Satyagraha against British imperialism had set an example of decency before the world. Can there be any better example than this in the world?
Those who keep an eye on the pages of time know that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and the pioneer of socialism in India Ram Manohar Lohiya were two extreme poles of ideology but had great respect for each other. They never used any undignified word to refer to one other. Atal Behari Vajpayee who was 35 years younger in age to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had great respect for the latter. When Indira Gandhi divided Pakistan and Bangladesh was born Vajpayee called Indira ‘Durga’. Jai Prakash Narayan who sparked the imagination of the country against Indira Gandhi during the Emergency never stooped to the level of mounting personal attack on Indira Gandhi. But when the Janata Party government started making personal attacks on Indira Gandhi, began to torture her, revealing their flippancy, the people of the country overthrew the Janata government in less than three years because the people of this country do not tolerate personal attacks and harassment.
I have had the chance to watch politics from very close quarters. My father Babuji Jawaharlal Darda was a freedom fighter and Congress leader but the political leaders from all parties used to come to my house. Despite being politically and ideologically opposed to each other, they maintained decency in their language and respected their feelings. Babuji used to say that there can be differences of opinion but this should not lead to personal acrimony. Any ideology can be criticized, but language should be such that you should speak your mind out without hurting anybody’s feelings.
I was a member of Rajya Sabha for 18 years, and expressed myself on hundreds of issues. I also criticized others. But I do not remember any day when I said a disrespectful thing against anybody. I learnt the lessons in cultural decency from my father.
I am gravely concerned at the explosive language used by the current crop of political leaders. It is not just myself, but the entire country is worried that the language of politics, has turned into abuse. There is such a mad rush to expose each other. Such language is being used that I feel ashamed to repeat it here. Every statement from politician stinks! The leaders of Shiv Sena and BSP were known for this kind of language but they are now joined by the others too. The level of language from PM to CMs from the various states has reached a low. Names of political parties are being lampooned, bachelorhood of somebody is being questioned while somebody is questioning others’ mental condition. This is a very strange situation. A person told me that he is a supporter of the BJP but he is distressed by the kind of language that is being used by his party leaders. A gentleman told me that it is a wonderful entertainment. So, enjoy it!
To be fair, the entire political environment looks so polluted. Currently, there is the full scale war of character assassination going on in the social media. Besides political parties, many expert groups are actively engaged in this ugly doing. Recently, what happened in the Tamil Nadu Assembly can hardly be termed appropriate for healthy democracy. We expect that those whom we select will take the initiative to move the country forward but they have become involved in politics in such way as if they are playing out open hostility. In my view, tearing the shirt of the speaker is great reproach to legislators. Such situations have arisen before and in other states too. What we need now is that all parties sit together and engage in quiet reflection to determine what the level of their language should be. Clarity should not only be in ideas but in working style also.
Before I conclude
The full credit for the landslide victory of BJP in Zilla Parishad, panchayat samitis and municipal corporation elections in Maharashtra should go to the youngest chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. As chief minister, he has done well and the people have shown approval of his work. Fadnavis framed an excellent strategy in this election and implemented it in the best way. His strategy, planning, effort and hard work paid off. It is thanks to his able leadership that the BJP has shaken the roots of Shiv Sena in Mumbai. During the election the way he attacked the Sena is commendable. This even the Congress could not do when it was in power. BJP could have crossed the figure of 100 but some elements of the party did not like it. These elements also conspired to defeat the BJP. If these elements had not sabotaged, BJP could have easily left Shiv Sena behind. The Shiv Sena helped the Congress at many places to defeat the Shiv Sena so that the votes were split to defeat the BJP. But Sena’s plan did not work. The election saw the emergence of Devendra Fadnavis as a skilled strategist and brilliant leader and he had the full blessing of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, state BJP strongman Nitin Gadkari and state BJP president Raosaheb Danve. These blessings also worked.
This election saw the rout of Congress. But even after a series of electoral reverses, the Congress leaders are not learning the lesson. From Delhi to ‘galli’, they neither have a plan nor a strategy. They are sitting at ease and have no time to come out of factionalism. In a democracy, there must be a strong opposition. Unfortunately, Congress is becoming weaker day by day and there is no visible change in its leaders.
The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.