Date : 17.06.2013

Sri Era Sezhiyan Ex-M.P.,
Guest House,
VIT University,
Vellore, TN

Dear Sri Sezhiyan,

Indian Parliamentary practices have been corrupted to the point of ushering in a mobocracy
and even worse dangers!
A call for some serious political reforms, more than any economic reforms, is in order!

Just now I read your very learned article on “No, Prime Minister” in the latest issue of Frontline magazine, June 28, 2013. Yes, it is very exhaustive considering your very accurate quotes from the Parliamentary debates of the past.  But ironically, the article is printed as the last piece in the issue with the first article taken up by our crazy cricket events!

That in itself is a reflection of our priorities in the country. Now, I am a bit embarrassed to say anything personal about myself but after reading your article I thought I must have to share my own involvement of the issues and institutions and even personalities.

I studied British Parliamentary History as one of my papers at Oxford in 1959-61.At the very period Dr.Manmohan Singh  was a research scholar at Nuffield College  where I used to go for my tutorials from my own College, New College, for my economics papers!

And I took economics as my major paper in the PPE course, and again ironically all the teachers, professors and tutors were also professors and supervisors for Dr.Singh! In fact, we studied the very same John Maynard Keynes and his very same disciples! So, I can claim some expertise that Dr.Singh is supposed to claim!   Besides, what you have written about the Parliamentary Democracy and its great British traditions, I am afraid, Dr.Singh can’t be associated with!

He was a bureaucrat all his life and you know that Indian colonial mind-set of our old and the new bureaucracy is one of slavish mentality and subservience to authority and precedence. So, Dr.Singh is now seen largely as a pathetic figure, a failure and even a tragic figure as well. I am of this view only.

But politics, being what it is and having seen how democratic politics had degenerated into utter anarchy and even a sort of chaos taking some dangerous turns, what is the point, I seem to ask, of harking back to old stories?

You must be only watching in helplessness about the way even the very selections, nominations are made to the Rajya Sabha, not to speak of the Lok Sabha as well. You had quoted eminent names, Erskine, Ivor Jennings (his was a text for us) and others of the past.

Today, we need a much more radical call for some plain speaking, some plain words and even offensive expressions if we are to satisfy our own helplessness. But there are solid grounds for robust hope and positive change. People, in so many ways of our articulations, let us call it general will or public opinion or public disgust and disappointment or disillusion the real rascals are thrown out periodically! Indira Gandhi herself was defeated and also others after her.

Why, this has been happening in the states well. So, we as citizens, individually or collectively, can contribute to the process of progressive change and improvement.  After Anna Hazare movement there is this hope for mass movements, by the youth and the educated middle classes, to storm the capital if things get out of hand.

Of course, I have the deep unrest within me that if the present practice of undemocratic practices, you have outlined so moderately (I mean in moderate language) continue the next time they, the mass storm the Race Course Road, it might not always be like the previous ones! It is here the danger lurks. This, only the foresightful and prophetic minds can fathom. But we, as the concerned and the committed citizens, have to share and exchange our deep concerns and fears, the forebodings. The civil society movements and the various new acts, like the RTI and the Human Rights, and the various NGOs who fight and agitate before the courts can expose and arrest the further deterioration of the undemocratic and insensitive behaviours and conduct of our top leaders.

Indian democracy vs. China
Indian democracy is the world’s largest and it has successfully functioned and survived for the last many decades. But even then, as students of history. We can’t guarantee things. In the very same issue, I read in the other pages (page 79-81) some book reviews. One is by A.G.Noorani on China’s present day thinkers.

Of course, I don’t think China has any credible circle of independent thinkers. In fact, there is so much suppression of freedoms, more so the press freedoms and the academic freedoms. Yet, it is good to know there are some 4,000 researchers in one institution alone. While, as the reviewer says there are huge numbers, also in Britain and Europe. But what is distressing in India is that there are no credible or visible faces of what we can call as Indian elite.  I was in China recently and I (if you can pardon me) was a student of Cheena Bhavan at Santiniketan and I have long associations with some eminent Chinese scholars and also I visited the great leaders’ homes in Shanghai (Mao, Sun Yat Sen, Madame Sun Yat Sen an Chous En Lai) and so I have some idea of how China is looking at the outside world. Chinese mind is different from the Indian mind. That is a point.

India and the Indian mind have their own differences and peculiarities. There is fear and a sort of subservience among the Indian intellectual class. We don’t have even any credible face of any public intellectuals as such.  Not just in New Delhi but even in the states.IN TN, I needn’t tell you, how things are so bad.  It is time we in India change this mindset. We have to get out of the ingrained British colonial mind and we have to learn to think indepdently, independent of foreign influences, be it American or any other foreign dominant foreign policy world views.

India must articulate its own destiny, so to say. But we in India must have a robust articulation about our own world view; the current generations’ own American Dream and much else need to be articulated by educators and thinkers as well. Unfortunately, you have asked the Prime Minister to resign, knowing only too well he won’t do so, unless Sonia asks him to do so!

Anyway, it was nice to read your very sobering observations and let us hope those ideas get noticed and widely shared by all.

With warm regards,

Yours sincerely,

Chairman & Managing Director
Vadamalai Media Group

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