My first posting as Deputy Commissioner was in 1980, to a district called Una. Una sits uncomfortably on the border with Punjab, and was apportioned to Himachal under the Punjab Reorganisation Act in the 70’s. Ever since then Himachal has been trying to return it to Punjab, without any success ! The reason?- the good citizens of Una just have to be the most argumentative, cantankerous and litigious bunch in the Himalayas. In fact, I was told of a legend there that when Guru Nanak Dev visited Una during the course of his travels, he spent a night there trying to preach to the people. It was apparently in vain because they wouldn’t listen to him, kept arguing with him on every issue and generally gave his teachings short shrift. Next morning, before leaving, he conferred his benediction on them by praying to God that they should not be disturbed in their present place of habitation, that they should prosper there, and be spared the wanderings that was the lot of people in those times.

The Guru moved on to Anandpur Sahib where he was treated with utmost respect, his every word venerated and his teachings enshrined in the hearts of the good people of Ropar. He blessed the villagers next morning by saying that they should travel all over India and not remain settled only at one place. His followers, in some surprise, asked him why the difference in blessings for Una and Anandpur Sahib -asking the latter to endure the hardship of dispersing all over the country while wishing for the comfort of the former by asking them to remain settled at one place? It is said that the Guru replied (no doubt with a twinkle in his eye!) that the people of Anandpur Sahib were the true disciples for his message of love and fraternity and should therefore spread this message throughout the country; conversely, the people of Una represented every value which he, the Guru, abhorred and preached against, and it was better if such people remained confined and isolated at one place and not spread their negativity !

I am reminded of this enlightening anecdote post the election results in Delhi where the BJP won 7 out of 7 Parliamentary seats. Because Delhi is no different from Una and its citizens deserve a similar “blessing”. While the ordinary citizens of India were fighting to regain their democratic heritage from a despotic regime, these pampered elite of Golf Links, Punjabi Bagh, the RWAs of Dwarka and the coddled bureaucrats of Motinagar have been content to live in their bubble of privileges, windfall real estate earnings and vacations in Bali. They have once again displayed their total disconnect from the real Bharat, even as they plunder its resources to extract a disproportionate share of the nation’s energy, water and other resources, and destroy its green cover, rivers and environment. The callousness they had last displayed when booting out millions of migrants during the Covid lockdown has once again been reflected in their total apathy and lack of concern at the endless suffering inflicted by this BJP regime on the average citizen for the last ten years. By giving all seven seats to the same party they have endorsed another five years of authoritarianism. It is rural India, not the effete, self-serving urbanite of Delhi (and Bangalore), which has put a brake on this.

According to the available figures of Delhi, about 50 lakh voters preferred the BJP, as against 38 lakhs for the INDIA alliance. These same people had come out in their tens of thousands and flooded the India Gate and Boat Club grounds in 2012 to protest corruption and lack of safety for women in the UPA govt. But now they are unconcerned about the same, and even more disturbing, issues. It would appear they have been lobotomised in this last decade by the toxic and heady mix of hate, Islamophobia and crass materialism to the point where they attach no value to all that was once the essence of our great country: tolerance, pluralism, citizens’ basic rights, concern for Gandhi’s Daridranarayan, the freedom to debate, the jewel of a democracy with all its flaws.

And they certainly cannot plead ignorance, for the worst atrocities and constitutional violations have occurred right under their noses, in Delhi itself: the engineered riots of 2022, the brutal beating up of JNU and Jamia Islamia students by police, Shahin Bagh and the dictum of “Goli maaro saalon ko”, the barbaric treatment of protesting female wrestlers, the vandalisation of Delhi’s history, architectural heritage and natural environment by grotesquely bizarre projects like the Central Vista and Bharat Mandapam extravaganzas, the usurpation of common public places under the guise of security.

These same citizens have twice voted in the AAP in the last two Assembly elections by a massive 90% mandate, and had rejected the BJP. So where is the outrage that the same BJP, under a puppet, unelected Regent has not allowed the elected state government to function for the last ten years? Are they not angry that their mandate is being usurped and systematically subverted by an arrogant Ozymandias in  Lok Kalyan Marg? That their elected Chief Minister and other Ministers have been arrested and detained without any apparent evidence or trial for months? That Delhi, the capital of the largest democracy in the world, has been reduced to the status of a panchayat in which a Chief minister has fewer powers than a sarpanch? One would expect that, even if Delhi-ites are too self centered to bother about national issues, they would at least be worried about the deplorable goings-on in their own city. Can they not see that every welfare or development programme of the AAP govt. relating to education, health, transport, piped water for slum colonies, door step ration delivery, subsistence elctricity supply- has been sabotaged by the same unelected and unaccountable Regent simply to wreak political vengeance for his party’s political losses? What kind of stupidity permits them to approve of this venal politics in their own city? Even a dog does not defecate in his own backyard.

Even as distant and one-horse towns like Ayodhya and Sabarkanta and Banswara have shown by their voting how precious the idea and the Constitution of India is to them, the vast majority of Delhi’s residents have demonstrated that they may be literate but they are certainly not educated. By their callous indifference to the plight of India’s minorities and the hundreds of millions rotting at the bottom of the media-built shining pyramid, they have revealed all that is wrong with India’s elites; they have also demonstrated the validity of activist Harsh Mander’s words in his 2015 book LOOKING AWAY : “A just and caring state can only be located ultimately in a just and caring society…..India will not change until we- the middle classes- also change.” They should hang their heads in shame for having let down a great nation, its freedom fighters and the visionary statesmen who created this country out of 500 territorial fragments and wrested them from the debilitating embrace of colonialism. To its eternal shame, Delhi has set the clock back by many years, and proved right the prescient words of George Orwell: “A people that elect corrupt politicians, impostors, thieves and traitors are not victims….but accomplices.” 

I have little doubt what the great Guru, were he around today, would have advised them to do.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Shailendra Nigam

    The present politic situation has been well stated. What has not been mentioned that it is the unending number of Andhabhakts who despite being literate, educated and learned continue to chant Modi.
    They are obedient to his every illogical statement and accept him as God.
    This is beyond belief. We as Indians have never shown this crass attitude, this irreverence to other religions. The divide has been created by every little nuance of Modi and his cronies. They intentionally create divisions between sects, societies, religions and castes. And somehow the stupid so called intelligentsia, the wise old uncles and aunties have fallen for modi lock stock and barrel.
    In short Modi the self proclaimed Avtar is not as much to blame as the public of India.

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