Chatting with contemporary old fogies in Delhi’s India International Centre the conversation turned to current events in Cairo. Someone bemoaned the fact that Indians lacked the spunk displayed by the Egyptian people. Others echoed this view. I sternly repudiated it. I passionately affirmed that Indians did not lack guts. It was the politicians who lacked leadership qualities.
To my utter delight within a few hours I was totally vindicated. Students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Jamia Millia Islamia and Delhi University quickly banded together under the aegis of All India Students Association (AISA) and marched in hundreds to the Egyptian Embassy to demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Apparently the students were incensed by the prevalent corruption. One student angrily said: “Do you know that Mubarak actually wants his son to succeed him? Can you think of anything more undemocratic and scandalous?”
During the long years that I futilely tried to expose corruption through newspaper articles I never found Indians wanting in their condemnation of corruption. I can still recall their passionate criticism of John Profumo and the Keeler affair in UK. I can recall their fearless opposition to Nixon and Watergate. After the fall of Soviet communism Russians have moved on. But thankfully Indians still remain true to Soviet norms.
I recall a famous story during Stalin’s time. An American and a Russian fiercely debated the merits of their respective political systems. The American said: “In America we can walk into Times Square and shout that Eisenhower is an idiot!”
“So what?” the Russian sneered. “We can walk into the Red Square and shout that Eisenhower is an idiot!”
In Cairo one million people marched against Mubarak. I believe that if we put our minds to it we Indians could mobilize two million to march against Mubarak.