Sunday, February 6, 2011

If You’re Truthful You’re Ineligible

Today it is a cacophony in the public space; important people scream judgments about each other and the rest of us sit by and watch a tamasha, confused and disillusioned… Scapegoats are hounded in the name of getting at the root of corruption; actresses are now being targeted in the game of pulling everyone into the mud…

Is it apt to hound Raja to solve the problem of corruption… the intellectual din is not allowing anyone to get to the root of the problem. Can we rise above all that noise? Where is the root of the corruption? How do we hit it and hit it hard?

In this fourth of the five article series, we look at what is supposed to be the centre-piece of our public life—the parliament… is there a technical glitch in the selection process to it?

(Click here to return to summary)

Elections are a filter process to take people into the legislatures.

By fair estimates an MP hopeful requires an army of 5000 men dedicatedly working for him for at least two months in the period just before and after elections in order to ensure that he gets elected. With diligence one may work out and find that huge amounts of money are required—even if the candidate were charismatic and had party backing. For instance, a Lok Sabha has on an average 13 lakh voters; therefore it would take Rs 13 lakh to send a one rupee post card to each voter in a Lok Sabha constituency. What does one do when the ceiling on expenditure is Rs 15 lakh?

The answer is that everything is pushed underground. The required moneys are generated through dubious ways, hidden in dubious ways and are spent in dubious ways. People fall head over heels to get ‘lucrative’ ministries. It is a mad rush for an opportunity to make money under the garb of an opportunity to serve people. It is an attempt to redeem the investment one made during elections and hopefully make ‘some’ profit. After all it is also a question of his longevity in politics… With such a system in place, the platform is set for the system to rot at the very top. That, in the process, some politicians also develop their personal fortunes is only incidental.

Let us be certain that it is improper to paint everyone with the same brush; but in the same breath we need to remember that this is indeed the system that exists now; if all this underhand business was the truth, why would the parliament not enact laws by which everything could have been transparent?

Mr. TN Seshan has argued that most persons who enter the Lok Sabha enter it by first signing on a lie that they have spent less than the designated ceiling during. This he mentioned during his tenure as the Chief Election Commissioner when the ceiling was ridiculously low. It is important to note that everyone signed.

Would Lord Rama spend more than the ceiling and then sign on a declaration that he did not in order to enter even the parliament?

No he would not!

And so the gates of the highest forum of productive deliberation and law making in a nation are not open to the ‘Mariyada Purushottam’!

Those that are inspired by the values of the Mariyada Purushottam, are denied entry into the sanctum sanctorum of democracy in the country. An Obama cannot rise in this country and one can understand here why.

We have effectively set up a gate post in politics where it is said that ‘you have to be dishonest to enter’. It is being ensured that only those of questionable integrity are allowed to enter the most distinguished house of debate and discussion in the country.

And what is the danger arising out of this?

“A person who is dishonest in small things will be dishonest in big things as well; if one cannot be trusted with the things of this world, how can he be trusted with the things of the other world?” (Bible)

If this biblical saying is indeed a reflection of the truth, and if it is also true that there is this basic dishonesty in the parliament, then it means that the parliament, by design, is incapable of effectively handling matters relating to the sublime. The parliament, in the present context, cannot be trusted with decisions that have bearing on our religions, values, communities, aspirations, families—for these are matters related to heaven.

But certain scholarly ones will use a fig leaf to cover up; Lord Krishna is known for the ‘tricks’ that he has played in the Mahabharata… citing this as an example you will have people saying that a degree of dishonesty is alright if the final effect is the good of society.

The comparison is not appropriate. But lets say we grant it to them, that they are acting according to what Lord Krishna would have expected… in that case too they need to be aware that:
1) In the Krishna Consciousness there is scrupulous honesty to the Highest Principle or Vasudeva; such persons are a class apart. One that uses this as a fig leaf and not as a principle in life can easily be spotted from the work he does.
2) He that identifies his work and disposition with the Supreme Consciousness will never patronize a system in which lord Rama will find himself ineligible to participate. An individual who is faithful to the Krishna consciousness will go out of his way to ensure that the transparency arrangements are put into place
So, do they pass these two tests?

All in all one can safely say that we have a filter process in our election system that picks up much lesser than the best and sends them to the parliament.

If we wish to be a land of high idealism as our fore fathers wished for us, we should not be patronizing such a system that does not allow the ‘Mariyada Purushottam’ into the highest debating body in the country. If we let it be, we cannot expect too much of our parliaments and even as we do find some exemplary men in the parliament, there will be others who will tie them down with their sheer size of numbers…

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