M.R. Pai is a name few will remember today. However, for nearly five decades, he was distinguished as one of the champions who tirelessly advocated the freeing of the vast Indian entrepreneurial energy that Nehruvian statism and Indira Gandhi's quasi-Communism had ruthlessly bottled up. He had teamed up with the formidable Nani Palkhivala to found the Forum of Free Enterprise which championed entrepreneurship and regularly sent missives to Members of Parliament on various economic issues.
Like Nani Palkhivala, M.R. Pai was also an acerbic critic of the Congress Party, which he viewed as a force for the destruction of freedoms. When Indira Gandhi nationalised banks and tossed the country towards nationwide impoverishment, he wrote a series of stinging essays in various publications, clearly unafraid of consequences. He correctly assessed that Indira Gandhi was using brute politics to snuff out sound economics through a simple device: by monopolising the country's money.
One such essay blasting this sinister device is titled, Reconstruction of Indian Politics, written in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi splitting the Congress in 1969. It was first published in the January 1970 issue of the Public Affairs journal of the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs, Bangalore, then edited by D.V. Gundappa. The following is the full text of the essay. Emphases have been added.
Clearly, it remains relevant even today. And it will remain relevant as long as the Congress Party exists.
In the peculiar brand of secularism practised by the present Government, quoting from the epics may be considered heretical. However, there is no better analogy to the present happenings in the Congress Party than the war of Yadavas. Lord Krishna saw that the Yadavas would be a menace to the world after His departure, and therefore, arranged for their total destruction through internecine quarrels and war.
Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhas with his INA, and Hitler who exhausted the British brought freedom to India. The Congress Party was an organisation which actively participated in the freedom fight, but after Independence, for past 22 years it dominated the Indian polity taking credit for the contribution of ail others to the freedom movement. The systematic way Netaji's name bas been sought to be erased from public memory is a first-rate scandal and shows how lust for power can overcome ordinary decencies of life.
There have been two big monopolies in India which have worked against public interest.
The first is the monopoly of the Government over money supply. This has been abused by the Government under the communist mode of planning. This has led to inflation, anti-social income shifts, corruption and steady impoverishment of middle classes. The other monopoly a near monopoly, to be exact has been the power monopoly in politics. Through an historical accident, one party bas dominated the politicalscene. This near-monopoly of the Congress is now broken. De-mono-polisation, whether in economics or politics, is always to be welcomed.
First, let us look at the warring groups: The "Syndicate," with Nijalingappa. Morarji Desai, Kamaraj, S. K. Patil, Atulya Gbosh and others, is politically outdated. Lao- Tse, the Chinese philosopher, had said six centuries before Christ: "If you do not resign in time, you will not only lose your fame, but you, will betray your trust." Having enjoyed power for years, in the evening of their life, they should have gracefully retiredyears ago having built up a younger leadership. No, they stuck on to power because retirement is a repugnant concept in Indian politics. The consummation of political careers in India is a gun-carriage funeral.
The other side, commonly known as "Indicate", is an amalgam of communist-minded persons like Indira Gandhi, ex-communists like Inder Gujral, Raghunath Reddy, weather-cocks like Y.B. Chavan, tax-evaders Iike Jagjivan Ram and communalists like Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and defectors like some "Young Turks" (who had defected their socialist or communist parties to jump on the power band-wagon of Congress). Then there are opportunists who pitch in their lot wherever the power base seems to be shifting. If events like the attack on Nijalingappa, Mrs. Tarakeshwari Sinha and raid on Harikrishna Shastri's house are any indication, the "Indicate" can be described as an edifice based on the foundation of terrorism and communist methods.
The picture is not complete without a reference to the role of the AlI India Radio. Even a Congress Chief Minister, Hitendra Desai, has given it a certificate which impartial observers endorse.AlI India Radio, under ex-communist Gujral, is virtually a branch of Radio Peace and Progress of Soviet Russia at least so far as techniques of news manipulation are concerned.
What is missing, by large, in both camps, is the basic ingredient of public life--CHARACTER. What characterises both is not impatience or zeal for public welfare and service, but aIl symptoms of advanced cancer for power. Another characteristic is conspicuous hypocrisy. Many members of the Syndicate, for instance, have never been serious about socialism. Mrs. Indira Gandhi, and many of her colleagues speak in the name of the poor but have a life of luxury and total unconcern for the poor. Conspicuous hypocrisy is the mascot of their public life.
There are many who agree with this analysis, but are afraid of the consequences of the disintegration of Congress party. Their fears are mainly two: First, without Congress there would be instability at the Centre. Second, with Congress disintegrating, communists would take over.
These fears are baseless. As regards the first fear, the real bastion of our stable democracy is the Constitution. So long as political power is confined within the four corners of the Constitution, there will be political stability. Unfortunately, we have been accustomed to equate democracy with the AngloSaxon pattern of bi-polar politics. But there are many Continental countries which have coalition governments and stable democracies. The surprise in India is that for a country of continental size, there are barely seven national and some 16 state parties. For our diverse, pluralistic base, there should have been many more parties.
What is taking place now is a reconstruction of Indian politics. We are moving towards a period of coalition Governments. After an initial period of confusion, things would settle down. For a people who got their freedom cheap, this period of confusion is the price they have to pay. And, there will be one immediate good emerging from this: for the first time, many of our arrogant politicians will learn the meaning of the word HUMILITY. Hitherto, unquestioned power had gone to their head. While "intellectuals" and urban people had some sort of insulation from the effects of this power madness because of more vocal public opinion, people in smaller places and villages were entirely at the mercy of party bosses: in most places, these party bosses were not the same decent, god-fearing people who had fought for Independence under the Congress banner, but rowdy elements whose main virtues were obedience to party bosses at state level and ability to mobilise voters at elections. Anyone running across the path of local Congress bosses had to drink the cup of bitterness. All this flowed from the monopoly complex in which there is no scope for humility.
The second fear, viz., communist takeover, has been induced by the propaganda of the rulers. The fact of the matter is that there is very little difference between a communist government and the present Indira Gandhi Government. In domestic and foreign affairs of the Government, especially Mrs. Gandhi and Foreign Minister Dinesh Singh are careful not to offend the Soviets and active in promoting their line with the necessary polish. Indian Ocean is becoming a Soviet sphere of influence with reportedly facilities for Soviet warships having been given in the Andamans. The so-called Asian Security Plan has no greater champion in the Kremlin, than India's Dinesh Singh. The External Affairs Ministry virtually functions as a wing of the Kremlin. The move to establish an Embassy at Hanoi in spite of the consistent hostility of that regime to India, is another concrete instance of a foreign policy mortgaged to Soviet Russia. As regards Soviet arms aid to Pakistan the Government has no guts to raise any question in national interests. The Defence and Foreign Ministers shuttle back and forth between Kremlin and Delhi like errand boys. Mrs. Gandhi does not miss any created opportunity to pay homage to the Soviet Premier!
Mrs. Gandhi's economic policy bas aIl the vowels of the alphabet of economic policy of communists. The so-called ten point programme of AICC, which will lead the country to State capitalism as in communist countries, can be traced in earlier communist party programmes if anyone cares to go through the old files of New Age, CPI official organ. Her close advisers and enthusiastic supporters are communists. CPI's Dange, Moscow's reliable mouth-piece in India, has openly declared support to Mrs. Gandhi, and from time to time publicly warns her on the deviations to be avoided.
At this rate, it is only a question of time before communists openly take over the Government. Mrs. Gandhi has shown enough lust for power to remain in office at any cost to the nation. It should not be a matter of surprise to see her head even a communist government. It is not policies alone which mark out Mrs. Gandhi's government as a communist one for ail intents and purposes. What is worse is that she has introduced communist methods in Indian politics. The misuse of official machinery, attacks on opponents through All India Radio, false promises which cannot be fulfilled (as on bank nationalisation) and telling of blatant lies and duplicity (of which events during presidential elections are but one instance) -- these are all borrowed from the political dictionary of Lenin, Stalin and Mao.
This then is the picture: Both Syndicate and Indicate are outdated, the former politically and the latter economically. They represent obsolescent political forces. The former, inadequate to meet challenges before the country; the latter not only inadequate but also hostile to national interests. The challenge before the nation is totally different from the obsolescent obsessions of both camps. It is to modernise the economy, give a jolt to it to move in the direction of tremendous production and productivity of which it is capable, and to become a Super-Power in the world. Freedom, prosperity and national greatness are the manifest destiny of India and not political satellitism and economic stagnation.
The question before the nation is so to reconstruct political forces as to snuff out from power these obsolescent forces before they engulf the nation and bring about economic feudalism and political serfdom.
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