Who will speak up for India ?

Finally, the cat is out of the bag and the cards are on the table, face up: the ruling party of the largest state in the country, representing almost one fifth of its population, has announced its willingness to cede from the Indian Union. Because make no mistake- the statement that the Centre should take back all IAS officers from the state is a secessionist statement.

The IAS is an instrumentality of nationhood, one of the strands that binds together the fabric of this nation: it was conceived by the statesmen of post-independent India to provide a common and uniform administrative ethos, an allegiance to the Constitution of the country, a cross-germination of varied state cultures that would, over time, provide a uniform administration and bring the people of this vast country together.

The IAS is just one strand, however; there are others: the other Central services, the Banking system, the Postal and Railway Departments, the Public sector undertakings, Central Universities, the Defense services, the para-military forces, to name just a few.

The IAS is, however, the primus inter pares because it is seen to control the actual levers of civilian power, and hence it becomes the most prominent symbol of national government. The attack on it by the UP govt., therefore assumes a sinister significance, for it raises the logical question (posed by Shri TSR Subramanium, former Cabinet Secretary on a TV programme recently): WHAT NEXT?

Will the UP Chief Minister now ask for all instrumentalities of the Centre to be withdrawn from “his” state, will he now print his own coins like Muhammad bin Tughlaq, will he raise his own army, will he levy his own taxes?

Will he, in short, now cede from the Indian Union? And will he be followed by the other regional satraps who are becoming more strident and assertive by the day?

The Samajwadi party’s statement should surprise no one-the cancerous regionalism and social separatism that is being fostered by these parties for the last twenty-five years was bound to damage the concept and practice of nation-hood. What they have been doing is no “celebration of diversity” but a call to fragmentation.

Nation-hood means bringing diverse peoples together; what we have been doing since the seventies is just the opposite AND EVERY POLITICAL PARTY, EVEN THE SO-CALLED NATIONAL PARTIES, HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THIS, EITHER BY THEIR INCOMPETENCE OR BY DESIGN.

The master at this, of course, has been the Congress. It has survived by pitting one community against another and by an obscene pandering to undisguised minorityism, overturning progressive Supreme Court judgements to please a community (Shah Bano), resurrecting a forgotten dispute that even the courts had gone to sleep over to please another( allowing pooja at the Babri Masjid in 1989), creating quota after sub-quota not envisaged in our Constitution, making a Satan out of a Hindu Chief Minister so it could feed at the trough of communalism, occasionally setting the balance right by allowing different communities to slaughter each other, allowing the ethnic cleansing (of Kashmiri pundits) to preserve its own interests-and not that of the country-in that state, refusing to bring one-fifth of the country’s population under a common Civil Code thus ensuring that the radicals among both major religions will continue to hold sway over their communities, carving out new states without caring for its implications for the rest of the country: the fires stoked by Telangana will burn for a long time, consuming even more of the little that remains of our nation-hood. The Congress created this country and it is its destiny to do its best to destroy it.

The other political parties are no less culpable, and if the damage they have caused is lesser( by comparison) it is only because they have not ruled for so long or over so many states. The BJP, by its persistent hostility to one community has fallen into the Congress trap and ensured their alienation for posterity; VP Singh did his Mandal poll dance and faded away into oblivion, Mayawati’s paranoia of other castes and obsession with Scheduled caste politics has taken this country back by decades, Mulayam Singh and his son are so keen to beat the Congress with its own trump( Muslim) card and to secure their legacy over their devastated state that they are even willing to part company with their country! These are the parties responsible for the horizontal divisions in our country.

There are others-the regional parties- who have now superimposed on this a series of vertical-or regional- divisions or separatism. For them their individual, state specific identity is the only thing that counts, and if this can be promoted only at the cost of other state identities or the national identity, so be it and the devil take the hindmost. National identity is of little concern to these satraps focussed only on their miserable survival.

And so we have a ShivSena or an MNS whose existence is postulated on driving all Beharis and UPites out of Maharashtra; a TRS which has announced that all Andhraites must leave Telangana immediately; an NC and PDP which steadfastly refuses to encourage the return of 100000 Kashmiri pandits evicted from their homeland; a DMK and AIADMK whose loyalty to a certain community in Sri Lanka matters more than India’s strategic interests in the Indian Ocean; a TMC in Bengal which cares more about its share in the waters of one river than about a historic river basin Agreement with Bangladesh; an Akali Dal in Punjab which venerates Sikh terrorists hell bent upon declaring independence from India more than those brave soldiers who died to prevent that from happening.

The same game is now being played with renewed vigour by at least a dozen wanna-be splinter groups who want statehood for their regions in order to preserve their ” distinct identities”. For the leaders of all these parties the national interest or identity does not matter-they are concerned only with their narrow, regional agenda, and the price of this tunnel vision is now beginning to show with a comatose government at the Centre.

It takes statesmen, not self-serving politicians, to hold countries together. It took a Nehru and a Patel to survive the vivisection of our country, it took a Lincoln to create the United States of America, it took a Margaret Thatcher to prevent the double amputation of Ireland and the Falklands from the United Kingdom, it took an Attaturk to give shape to a modern Turkey, it took a Nelson Mandela to ensure that his country did not disintegrate in a welter of hatred and violence in the post-Apartheid period , it took an Indira Gandhi ( for all her faults) to preserve Punjab as an integral part of India. It will take only a Manmohan Singh or a Mulayam Singh to dismember India back into the pieces that Clive found when he stood at Plassey!

The poison is spreading fast in the body politic of our nation and it cannot long survive its effects. The clarion call has been sounded by Mr. Akhilesh Yadav and the pack is beginning to gather. India needs a strong leader, never more than now, to stamp out these treacherous stirrings, by force if necessary. For the Indian politician has spoken- he has spoken for his caste, he has spoken for his religion, he has spoken for his sons, he has spoken for his fiefdom, he has spoken for his state- for UP, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Maharashtra, Kashmir, Assam.

Who will speak up for India?

Avay Shukla retired from the Indian Administrative Service in December 2010. He is a keen environmentalist and loves the mountains. He divides his time between Delhi and his cottage in a small village above Shimla. He used to play golf at one time but has now run out of balls. He blogs at http://avayshukla.blogspot.in/

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