Editorial 14/3 – Stooping to conquer

By K.N. Pandita,

Seventy-five year old Nobel Laureate Tenzeng Gyatso, the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama, and the supreme spiritual and political leader of the Tibetans-in- exile has desired to lay down his political office and let the community elect the head of the state through a democratic process. He would be proposing amendment to the charter or the constitution of the community-in-exile. Fifty-four years ago, the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan community were forced out of their ancestral homeland by the Maoists who would not tolerate an ancient and indigenous cultural entity to survive and thrive in its neighbourhood. Maoist ideology and the ideology of a traditionally and historically peaceful and tolerant community of the Lamas stood diametrically opposite to each other.

Knowing that the Tibetan community would not take to their ideology despite repression, the Chinese enforced ethnic cleansing on them, and thus satiated their lust for territorial expansion. In following her established historical tradition, India offered asylum to the exiled community and its supreme spiritual leader. China called it a hostile act and never forgave India for sheltering the refugees. The world honoured Dalai Lama as an apostle of peace and he won the highest award, the Nobel Prize, to become the citizen of the world, in true sense of the term. The world showed him respect that he deserved.

Dalai Lama’s decision to relinquish political authority, and recommend to the parliament of the community-in-exile to elect the head of the state is an example of highest sense of responsibility and consciousness about the future of the community of which he is the head. It is a different question whether the Tibetan parliament accepts his resignation or not, the fact is that it is a big step towards changing the age-old structure and system, and replacing it by modern democratic dispensation. The Dalai Lama is conscious that howsoever sanctimonious the old system may be, the demands of modern society will not support it too long. This should become a glaring example for our political class to understand that a politician must quit the scene before he becomes a liability. In particular, this is a message to those who remain glued to dynastic rule. Upholders of dynastic rule argue that only they are capable of offering cohesion and consolidation to political structure of the country. If they are not returned to power, the country will fall apart in pieces, they argue. This is only retrograde thinking and a lame excuse to remain glued to power. Political houses staying in power for long periods develop tentacles that are difficult to uproot easily. They also attain money power because of having created strong and entrenched moles that support the hereditary rule. This does not augur well for making a democracy vibrant and outreaching. In his address the Dalai Lama said that since a long time he had been thinking of quitting political authority and was now convinced that the time had come when he should lay down the office. The Tibetan leader has demonstrated to the world that he has translated highest moral and ethical code from theory into practice by relinquishing political leadership. He has shown the way how human weakness can be and should be conquered. We wish that in our country where a lot of rhetoric is exuded about high morality and political ethics, leaders followed the example of the Dalai Lama. Our tainted leaders produce a hundred and one lame excuses to prove their innocence when implicated in immoral acts of scams and corruption and misuse of power. They have no qualms of conscience in losing the trust of the people who catapult them to seats of power but then this all falls like a house of cards when their case comes under judicial scrutiny. They should learn from living lights like the Dalai Lama that democracy does not mean holding power to decide the fate of the people but holding their trust to serve them. We should salute the Dalai Lama, the great preceptor who stoops to conquer.

Unheard and condemned

The irony is that the former Maharaja of the State was talked about in the assembly for good and for bad. Civilized societies do not talk of the dead in adverse words especially if the veracity of their assertion remains doubtful. Everybody knows that the people of the State led an anti-monarchy agitation through 1930s and half of 1940s. They demanded populist rule which came about, in whatever circumstances, in October 1947. Thereafter the people of the state had nothing to do with the monarchy. They formed their constitution, held elections and formed governments. Their elected representatives framed rules and the state was fully functional in all its organs. Therefore what is of major concern to people’s representatives today is how the popular rule has been conducted and how far have we been vindicated in our aspirations for people’s rule. The old order definitely was not acceptable and hence has been discarded with. If at all there has to be any accounting, it has to be of the new order. Gandhiji was very right in advising his countrymen that they should hate the system brought by the colonialists and not the colonialists in person. He had cordial relations on individual level with many British friends. India retained the last Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, as the first Governor–General of independent India. That is astute statesmanship and that is what is expected of great minds and thinkers with the good of the country at heart. The treatment meted out to the former ruler of the State on the eve of his ouster and thereafter, does not do credit to the people of the state and the leaders who led them. Maharaja Hari Singh’s biography remains to be written by a dispassionate historian, and many dimensions of his character will remain in dark as long as that is not done. Writing his history does not mean either lauding him for something or deriding him for other things. No, that should not be the purpose. The real purpose has to be to bring to light the facts of the history of Jammu and Kashmir. That Hari Singh signed the accession of the state to Indian Union is a historical fact. If that had not happened history of the state would have been altogether different. Naming streets in New Delhi after some of the historical figures despite their doubtful record does not mean to project them out of proportion. It means maintaining the continuity of history. Unfortunately, we in India have had only scant sense of history. This has to be changed and political personalities have to be heard before they are condemned.

Comments are closed.