Indian elitist members since the distant past have displayed remarkable sensitivity to the mood of the times. They merge with the current dispensation as a duck takes to water. When Morarji Desai became Prime Minister a surprising number of people suddenly discovered the benefits of urine therapy and the evils of alcohol. This did ruffle a few feathers. A social activist, Mr. KK Toofan, sat in protest outside the PM’s residence and drank liquor till the police carted him away.
When Charan Singh became Prime Minister many bureaucrats suddenly became part time farmers growing salad on terrace gardens of their homes. They would cock an eye at the sky and assess how the monsoon would affect crops.
Now Mr. Narendra Modi has become Prime Minister after the BJP swept to power. He is expected to remain in power for at least one whole term. Sitting Supreme Court Judge Justice AR Dave said: "Somebody who is very secular, so called secular, will not agree. Had I been the dictator of India, I would have introduced Gita and Mahabharata in class one. That is the way you learn how to live life. I am sorry if somebody says I am secular or I am not secular. But if there is something good, we have to get it from anywhere." Congress criticized Justice Dave for his remarks and the BJP defended him.
Regardless of the merits or demerits of the views expressed the most impressive aspect of the speech has been ignored. It relates to the superb timing and location where the views were expressed. Justice Dave was speaking in Prime Minister Modi’s home state a little after the BJP has swept into power. He has kept alive the tradition of Indian elitist members who adjust to the times. It is unusual for a Supreme Court Judge to ruminate in public what he would do if he became a dictator. But the public mood must have strongly infected the Judge for him to express a popular view.
Current Chief Justice of India Chief Justice RM Lodha is to demit office at the end of September. Justice HL Dattu is expected to succeed him for about a year. Justice Dave’s term ends only at the end of 2016. Therefore no personal motive might be attributed to Justice Dave’s remarks. For much of his early career he had served in Gujarat. He must have been especially sensitive to the popular mood. That is why he must have somewhat unconventionally expressed his views. Dictatorial command notwithstanding it remains highly questionable though whether children studying in class one would be capable of assimilating the profound teachings of the Gita at their tender age. One assumes of course that Justice Dave himself has grasped the message of the Gita.