12 Dec 2007, 2142 hrs IST,
The purpose of our living must be defined. At least to our own conscience. Is it to earn more and live a rich life? What's happiness, pray? Not having to work for anything and getting wishes and desires fulfilled at the stroke of our tiny finger? Or to work continuously to earn a dry bread? I have seen those who have a million working relentlessly at the cost of the time they would have spent with their families to make more millions and a billionaire trying to multiply wealth and financial empire as a sacred mission of his entire life. And exactly these are the people who commit the biggest frauds in their life, some are caught and some get medals for their services because they were able to ensure a fool-proof cover-up of their misdeeds all their lifetime. They make a nation's spine And then there are others, who earn a first-class first degree from IIT, Powai or Madras and then devote their lives for the development of the tribals and the disadvantaged of the remote areas without ever knowing what a Kingfisher calendar is or the 'significance' of Parliamentary debates and an election fever. And those who may not have the un-countable sacks of millions, but for a genuine public good, they take on the mightiest corporate empires exposing their frauds at the risk of their life. They never get bungalows in Lutyens Delhi nor are invited to the fabulous banquets at Mogul gardens. But they do make the nation's spine. A spine that speaks for the teeming millions. Those who are people in spite of those who are netas and their sacks. You only live once in the present birth so what's the need to compromise? No power can overpower the fragrance of an honest soul ultimately, no matter the travails and punishments he faces to remain committed to his ideals. Yet we see a circus of spineless crawlers conducting workshops on how to stand erect! So a Shyama Prasad Mukherjee gave his life demanding the scrapping of two flags and two systems in Jammu and Kashmir. He had a purpose, a life full of nationalism. Vajpayee did have a purpose when he finally had the Pokharan II and stood erect against sanctions of more than thirty-six nations including the USA. Captain Hanifuddin and Sqdn. Leader Ajay Ahuja, too, had a purpose which was bigger than their material life and comforts. They defended the motherland and gave up their lives for it. Indira Gandhi had a purpose when she stood firmly against the US pressures, did the Pokharan I and liberated Bangladesh. Those who made the Islamic arrogance of the Pakistani army surrender before a saffron nation on December 16th 1971, too, shared the same purpose -ensuring India's security and teaching an enemy an unforgettable lesson. Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw, Gen. Jacob-Farj-Rafael Jacob, Air Chief Marshall Sardar Arjan Singh and our soldiers deserve the nation's salutes for ensuring Pakistan's surrender. But how many of us would really commemorate the anniversary falling next week? We are a nation run by such patriots that even after thirty-six years of that great victory we have not built a single Victory Tower in Delhi. The soldiers are made to march past a memorial which was erected to honour the defenders of the British Empire. It's a shame that the Jai Jawan Jyoti is lit under the canopy of a structure that reminds of those sahebs who hanged Indian freedom fighters. That structure is called India Gate. Colonial memories Still, after sixty years, the 'gates' to India are colonial and nothing Swadeshi defines the brand Indian spirit in the capital which sells proudly the picture postcards of the blood-stained memorabilia of Viceroys and their sergeants. And all these are defended by the politician. Coming to a more mundane level, when we see a cavalcade of cars, with blaring sirens and gun-toting black cats looking at the poor citizens with a contempt, do we feel sympathies with the netaji sitting pretty in one of the black-filmed car thinking oh my, how much this man has to suffer for the purpose of serving people?, Or do we feel jealous of his status and power?
Purpose of our public figures What's the purpose of our politics and the instruments it possesses? We see great stalwarts and statesmen and criminals rubbing shoulders with each other, and each proclaiming his purpose is to serve the masses, to see the nation prosperous and strong. And to serve the people, they offer all sorts of sacrifices and get ready to face the consequences too, but with their resolve to serve being very strong, it's difficult to find even as an exception, a stalwart leaving the political jamborees saying it's getting too taxing for him or her to lead a normal happy life. Hence I bid adieu! It never happens. We see murderers, extortionists, scandalous financial managers 'serving' the cause of the nation, intermittently going in and out of the jail. For the last sixty years we have been continuously being served by those whose life mission was public good and the welfare of the poor. Yet the disparities have widened, we have never seen a single leader resolving to take back land snatched by neighbours, post-Independence, not a single airport can claim to have reached even a mile closer to an east Asian international or domestic airport, power supply is eerie in most of the states, public services in the doldrums, patriots are condemned to live as refugees, but illegal infiltrators are welcomed by those who had a constitutional responsibility to oust them. A media so driven by the rich and glamorous that a thousand farmers' suicide never attracted the attention that a single Jessica Lall murder did and killers and the victims are weighed against their religions and not on their innocence or offence. Was that the purpose of their living or the enterprise? Dying dreams Many of the youngsters joining the civil services have the dreamy purposes with lofty idealism in their eyes when they join the academy at Mussourie. Soon, they get seasoned. Like a seasoned wood, nothing touches their inner core any more to stop them becoming an instrument of the ugly heads. Ask a Bihar social activist, the 'cost' of marrying a suitable boy in the IAS; IPS is too high for a daughter's father. Many have exactly this purpose in mind when they work hard to join elite services. Like the power of an idea, purpose too, defines the character, methods and content of the voyager and his journey. Vivekananda had a purpose to spread the Vedanta world over and for that he dedicated his life. His power of purpose led him to glory and a place in history. Gandhi's power lay in his purpose and not in his frail body. The mountain man of Bihar, who cut the rocky heights to make a path for common people, was powered by the nobility of his purpose which was beyond the elections and a seat in the Assembly. This reminds me of the lines I read long back, attributed to Dr. Damon (Stanford), 'purpose is the intention to accomplish something that is at once meaningful to the self and of positive consequence to the world beyond the self.' Otherwise even an Osama has a purpose and so have a Musharraf and Dawood and a Maoist. They can't be put in the category of those noble souls having a purpose in their life. At best, to be most charitable they are simple mercenaries who invest in line of their aim with an art that demands a particular method and culture, in order to reap a harvest of pleasures and comfort. The public speeches, announcements and life styles are all tailor made to suite the expectations. Same is true about the MLAs and MPs who really work hard to register a win. All that they can muster is put at the stakes. They feel over-joyous when declared elected. Is it because the gods have finally ordained them to serve people? Ask a tea vendor and he would say- sir, they have got a bigger and a better chance to make money, and hence they are happy. The number of night shelters keeps on increasing, for once please try to see them after nine. Delhi, like many other metros, presents a shocking spectacle of poor, labour class spending deadly winter nights on footpaths, platforms, shanties built around railway lines and public toilets. Aren't they citizens of this nation? What's the purpose of a public life if we have continued with these Indian citizens' plight for the last six decades, while ensuring bungalows with acres of green lawns maintained at public expenses for a family of two or three 'nation-savers'? Choose a purpose The fact of the matter is no body; even the closest allies of the public figures believe that the principal purpose of their exercises is to serve the public. Some of the Indians must choose a purpose. A purpose that defines their lives through a resolve to cleanse the public life of these ugly crawlers and create an atmosphere of hope and justice. Those who helped enact the Right to Information Act -and those who work in villages for public awareness and a self-sustaining development model are such Indian souls. That power of purpose shall engine the materialisation of a real Indian dream.