Roads to Political Reform!

There would be little dispute in acknowledging that Mr. Arun Jaitley is among the more sophisticated and well informed Indian political leaders today. Recently Mr. Jaitley justified shouting and disruption of proceedings by his party in parliament and scuttling a debate on the Coalgate issue. He justified it by pointing out that similar tactics deployed to get official action on the 2G scam had succeeded. He said that there was no other way to get results in this system.

The Maoists professedly to help the plight of the exploited and impoverished tribal population swear by Mao’s ideology. To bring about revolution they kill policemen and landlords. When criticized for the violence they say that there is no other way to get results in this system.

Can a just and democratic system dependent on the rule of law emerge from a struggle that succeeds by breaking laws and due procedures?

Mr. Arvind Kejriwal inspired by Mahatma Gandhi has started a Satyagraha for cheap electric power. In an event, either spontaneous or artificially manufactured, he helped a victim whose electric connection had been cut for non-payment of dues. Mr. Kejriwal defied the law to personally restore the connection. He said he was prepared to meet the consequences and go to jail. He urged people to stop paying electricity bills.

Understandably he received wide publicity in the entire media with his photograph restoring the electric connection splashed on the front pages. If more such happening occur, and I anticipate they will, Mr. Kejriwal’s party could acquire significant success in the forthcoming assembly polls. His party might even win the election. But how far will that address the national crisis? Election victories do not guarantee political reform. Mr. Kejriwal argues that there is no other way to get results in this system. That is why he has adopted Gandhi’s approach.

In principle Mr. Jaitley, the Maoists and Mr. Kejriwal are presenting similar arguments. They claim that the only way to get results in this system is by breaking procedure, rule and law. To get laudable results is their end. To achieve it procedure and laws have to be broken. But should not then the system be reformed? Of course it should. Doubtless all three have their respective formula to reform it. But can they ever succeed even if they acquire unfettered power? It is doubtful because the road each has adopted for change is the wrong road.

Mr. Kejriwal swears by Gandhi and therefore has adopted his approach. But did not Gandhi discard his own approach after India became independent? He wrote on his last day that the Congress needed to be disbanded even though India had gained independence “through means devised by the Indian National Congress”. He therefore considered the means adopted by the Congress against alien rule inappropriate in a sovereign democratic India in which laws are enacted by elected representatives of the people. Yet the means that his admirers continue to adopt by invoking his name are those used by the Congress before India became independent.

At the heart of the controversy created by those who seek results by discarding procedure and laws is the relationship between means and ends. At what stage does a worthwhile end justify the discard of laws and due procedure? This is the question that protagonists and opponents of the various votaries of change have to grapple with. Well, they might reflect on what Gandhi thought of the problem. He was asked once what should take priority – means or ends. His classic answer said it all. He reportedly said: Means are the end.”

One would urge all votaries of change committed to a democratic system to reflect. Can a just and democratic system dependent on the rule of law emerge from a struggle that succeeds by breaking laws and due procedures? The current system does not deliver satisfactory results. Have the so-called reformers studied it and analyzed the causes of its failure? But that would call for an attempt to genuinely reform the system, not just to win an election.


More by :  Dr. Rajinder Puri

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Views: 3346      Comments: 4

Comment The Machiavellian policy is : End justifying the means. But Gandhiji believed that Means are the end. So Gandhiji relied so much on Ahimsa which is a noble means. The End was Freedom , but he did not want the country to achieve even Freedom by ignoble means. So Gandhiji's politics was value based. Even Tagore compared him to Buddha and Jesus. Louis Fishcher in his essay 'My Week with Gandhi' beautifullly wrote that Buddha failed, Jesus failed, Gandhi too failed. But he did not change his principle : Means are the end. Today Gandhiji is no more, but his message still is alive in our mind. Einstein once remarked : That such a man ever walked in flesh and blood on this earth will not be believed by the posterity. Really, nowadays everyone is interested in justifying the end even at the cost of means. Gandhiji's politics is above politicking of today's politicians most of which try to make the end justify the means.

Dr.Ratan Bhattacharjee
10-Oct-2012 11:32 AM

Comment Arogance of Power is an often used word by BJP against ruling party. The rulling party should consider this an alarming situation and take corrective course.

10-Oct-2012 09:32 AM

Comment Krish, I am not saying he is gimg the wrong way by joining politics which I advised him and Anna to do from the start. I am cautioning him against following the wrong tactics. I want him to succeed and hopefully he will. Wait for my next comment.

My Word
09-Oct-2012 08:49 AM

Comment He wanted Lok Pal. He was stonewalled. Most people advised him that if he wants a Lok Pal he will have to join politics and come to power and then pass a Lok Pal bill (which is unlikely in the foreseeable future, so politicians have effectively diverted the attention from Lok Pal). Now he has joined politics and you say that he is going the wrong way. What should the poor fellow Kejriwal do ? He should and will do what he thinks fit to keep the nation focused on the issue of corruption which, if reduced by even 50%, the nation's GDP growth will go up by at least 1%.

09-Oct-2012 07:47 AM

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