Monday 8 December 2014

Don’t diminish Lord Ram, Sadhvi Niranjan (Sunday Guardian)

M.D Nalapat is the Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian.

Union Minister of State Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti speaks in the Rajya Sabha in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI
f we regard goodwill as a bank, then it has become clear over the past months that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been making huge deposits into the BJP's "Goodwill Bank", several of his colleagues are busy draining its coffers through incompetence and intemperateness. On 26 May 2014, those gathered in Rashtrapati Bhawan for the unveiling of Team Modi witnessed instead a pastiche, which has been characterised as "20% Modi, 40% Vajpayee and 40% Manmohan Singh". Unless there is at least "50% Modi" in the government run in his name, it will prove difficult for the Prime Minister to achieve the level of performance which the voting public expects of him. It would be best for the BJP to focus on good administration and let the politics take care of itself, rather than make ministerial choices dependent on calculations of political advantage. The large proportion of entrants in the Council of Ministers from states such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh could not protect the BJP from substantial losses in byelections in these two states. Empirical evidence across decades proves that there is little positive effect in giving weightage in ministerial choices to states and communities regarded as politically significant. After all, each minister is bound by his or her oath to work for the entire country, for each citizen of the country, rather than serve only a sectional interest. Those focusing on the latter usually prove to be indifferent administrators, and when this is the case, the effect on governance will be negative, as will soon be the impact on politics.
Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti has done a disservice to Lord Ram by assuming that only a segment of the population of this country has a right to him and his legacy. The reality is that Lord Ram belongs to every citizen of India.
Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti has done a disservice to Lord Ram by assuming that only a segment of the population of this country has a right to him and his legacy. The reality is that Lord Ram belongs to every citizen of India, just as Julius Caesar belongs to every Italian, Napoleon to each of the citizens of France and Alexander to all the Hellenic tribes, whether they be Greeks or Macedonians. Prime Minister Modi has done what was needed, by disapproving of the remarks made by the minister, thereby signalling to his team that he would not countenance attempts at segmenting the population for political reasons. Modi was elected because of the confidence of voters across castes, regions and communities that he would ensure good governance, and certainly he has worked with speed and efficiency to clear away cobwebs and ensure that governmental services delivered to the average citizen are of a better quality than the abysmal level that they have been stuck in since the 1960s. Goodwill for Modi is still intact, despite the negative effect of some of his ministerial colleagues, who ought to know better. The Sadhvi seems to have fallen into the colonial-era trap of looking at Lord Ram in exclusively religious terms, when in fact he needs to be viewed also in historical and national terms.
Just as Alexander, Napoleon and Julius Caesar get studied in textbooks across the globe, especially in their homelands, so should Lord Ram in schools across India. Study of his life would be immensely helpful in awakening in not just giving our people a pride in our composite civilisation, but teach them to emulate his example. Combined with the creation of a governance system which makes human endeavour easier rather than more difficult, such a re-discovery of India's historical roots would help in making people resident in India achieve true same levels of performance as they do in locations with more citizen-friendly governance systems, such as in the US, the UK or Singapore. It was wrong on the part of the "Nehruvian secularist" brigades (who adopt a different standard for different communities rather than a uniform scale) to consign Lord Ram into a sectarian box, when the qualities he represents are valid for the whole of humanity. Each citizen of India has the right to be called a civilisational child of Lord Ram, irrespective of his or her faith, and it is this truth that Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti needs to keep in mind when she feels the temptation to adopt the colonial view and place Lord Ram in a restricted rather than in an inclusivist way. Whether his name be Rahim, Vibhav or Lawrence, each citizen of our country has a legitimate right to be the inheritors of the legacy of Lord Ram.

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