India is not only the world’s largest democracy but also the most dynamic and flourishing democracy in the world as of now. Various social and political changes have been taking place in the country and the pillars of governance have been increasingly becoming democratic in its functioning. The democratic principles and the Constitution are more or less followed by both, state and common man in pretentious terms. But if there is one institution, where there is complete lack of internal democracy and disregard to its individual constitution, it’s the political parties. The bizarre irony is that these parties are the institutions that play a major role in running the Indian democracy through their leaders and representatives by preaching democracy and its principles to the entire country. But sadly, when it comes to preach the same, they make a complete volteface. Forget about Indian Constitution’s principles, they end up defying their own constitution and its principles.
The leaders of the political parties are expected to promote and encourage debate, discussions, and dissents in the country as a means to propagate the essence of democracy and transparency. People are expected to voice their views without fear of intimidation and express dissent as and when they feel dissatisfied with the opinion of any individual or organisation. But political parties are miles away from this proposition and they tend to keep themselves away from all this quintessential part of democracy.
There are numerable instances through which it can be inferred that Indian political system suffers from the vice of lack of democracy and transparency in its functioning including defections, confining MLAs into hotels and resorts, election of party leadership and functioning of party. The best part in this is that all the political parties seems to be on the same page and no one out of them is different from others when it comes to these things. Well, this might sound little ironical about this political unity and comity, this is the truth.
Laws against Political defection and chilling effect on Free speech
Out of all such instances, political defection is the most pertinent example of something which undermines the democracy in India. It is something which is a very common phenomenon in the political system and a quarterly event which has almost become unavoidable in the contemporary and modern democracy in India. To combat this evil of defection, India was one of the first states to enact the law against defection, also known as anti-defection law. India regulates such defections through Articles 102 and 191 of the Constitution along with the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India which was inserted way back in 1985, as a means to disqualify members on certain grounds. The grounds which is little disturbing is that the legislators shall be disqualified from the house in case he/she defies the party whip on any issue.
Most of the advanced democracies have not enacted any law against defection and have given free space for dissent in the system. In UK and US, it’s a routine phenomenon that legislators often disagree with their own party and partymen, and defy their party whip when they don’t agree with the views of the party on certain issues. Infact, in UK, the members often lose their individual membership from the party, but not their membership from the parliament. In US, Congressmen are not defected when they vote against their own party on any issue of importance. Compared to this, the law in India against defection is very strict and even a miniscule of dissent against the party and its whips on any issue might attract disqualification from the house.
In India, legislators are not free to express dissents against their own party and they have to mandatorily align themselves with the view of party and its leadership, thanks to anti-defection law. It’s very obvious that the legislator cannot agree with the party and its leadership on every issue and should have right to express dissent. Due to these obstacles, various legislators were not able to express their independent views in the past on CAA, NRC Article 370, and Triple Talaq in the past because any such defying act would lead to their disqualification from the house. Recently, a deputy Chief Minister of the State of Rajasthan and few other MLAs of a State in India were served with a disqualification notice for inner party dissent which was equally violation of freedom of speech. While anti-defection law promotes political stability one hand, on the flip side, it doesn’t promote transparency, accountability, and representative democracy in the party. We need to remember that the legislators have their first duty, loyalty, and responsibility not towards their party or the leadership but towards their individual constituency which elected them.
As already pointed above, debate and discussion should be profoundly promoted but such provisions clearly defeats the principles of democracy and free speech. Clearly, such things will help us in keeping a check on the government and party’s leadership. Here, we give more focus to central cabinet than the individual views. Such blanket provisions allows the defiance of principles of separation of powers wherein the legislators are bound to work on the direction of executive and can’t disagree with them. Amidst all this, the legislator does more damage to its constituency than anyone else. As if the legislature and executive didn’t deter much, the Supreme Court ruling made it more blatant that if you want to criticise own party’s decisions, you will have to lose your membership of the house since it calls for voluntary giving up membership of the house. Thus whole process of defection is a gaffe to the democracy and the whole contemplation process in our legislatures has been reduced to buffoonery.
Intra-Party democracy and Political parties
Intra-Party democracy tends to promote constitutionalism in the country and is essential for its survival because it affects the inherent quality of democracy in the country. In India, none of the political parties, be it national or regional, follow their individual constitution. There is no intra-party democracy within the political parties and almost all the parties are autocratic in their functioning. There are various measures to check this assertion like election of party’s head, election of candidates for state or national elections, and funding of the parties. Amongst all the parties, none of the parties seems to follow a democratic approach while appointing their head, selecting candidates for the elections, or funding the election rallies.
One of the major reasons for such existing mechanism in the country is that India’s political parties are more leader centric rather than centralised leadership. Due to this, most of the leaders are unwilling to channelize the whole procedure for selection of their party’s candidates. Almost every party seems to be perpetuating dynasty politics in India, ignoring a proper channelized method of system and election. There is complete lack of transparency to this and everything happens through an entirely undemocratic process.
How do we expect these parties’ leaders to promote democracy in the country when they themselves are not able to portray the same within the parties? How far we will be controlling the state politics through New Delhi or national leadership? When will we promote federal politics in the country? Probably, we can learn from Germany which has achieved a remarkable feat in ensuring intra-party democracy and transparency in party funding and internal elections.
Some efforts had been made by some people to combat this deficiency of anti defection law and promote intra party democracy, but all those efforts had been in vain. It is pertinent to note that in the past, a private member bill was moved by an legislator Mr. Manish Tewari to amend the anti defection law with a view to promote healthy discussions and free speech of legislators. But sadly, it couldn’t attain any finality. A PIL was filed in High Court of Delhi seeking directions from the court to Election Commission to formulate guidelines to regulate parties and bring intra-party democracy which was ultimately rejected. Top leaders from the two major national parties of the country including the incumbent Prime Minister have even expressed their concerns regarding the intra party democracy in the country. Despite all this efforts and concerns, no efforts have been taken by either organs of the democracy to promote free speech of parliamentarian and intra party democracy.
Recently, a petition was filed in the Rajasthan High Court by Sachin Pilot and other MLAs challenging the legality of the show cause notice by the Speaker served to them for not attending the party meeting and expressing dissent to the state leadership wherein they also challenged the constitutionality of Paragraph 2(1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India. While ordering the status quo to be maintained on the showcause notices issued by the speaker, the Court framed 13 question of law but didn’t order anything on merits. While this has been challenged in the Supreme Court, it would be interesting to observe the outcome of this petition considering the fact that this would be the first case of its kind where the Court would be deciding the defection on the issue of intra party dissent and not crossing over per se. No Court has ever decided the defection on the issue of intra party dissent. Another question which ought to be decided would be regarding the ambit of party whip. Whether the whip applies only when the house is in session or does it apply to the legislator outside the house as well including internal party meetings?
A Change is important because unless we democratised our political parties, we can’t really democratise the Indian parliamentary system. To promote the political stability and protect independence of legislators concurrently, it would be better if the current defection law is changed a bit. Possibly, the word term any issue should be removed and disqualification of members should not happen when they are willing to express their dissent against arbitrary law or policies which is being propagated by their party. The legislators should be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of speech and expression, as guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution. The legislators should be allowed to voice a difference of opinion outside the legislative assembly and it shouldn’t attract anti defection law. It should rather only happen if they are found defying the party’s leadership on few issues like money bills and no-confidence motions. Further, the member who has resigned shouldn’t be allowed to contest the by-election that happens soon after his resignation. Rather, he should be only allowed after the end of the term of the Assembly. In addition to this, it is high time that India develops a separate law for ensuring internal democracy amongst the parties along with financial transparency and accountability in their working. This is important because unless we democratised our political parties, we can’t really democratise the Indian parliamentary system.
Adv. Ankit Tripathi is a commercial litigator, appearing before various courts in tribunals. He is working as an associate with the chambers of Adv. J. Sai Deepak.
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India emerges as the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar and world’s 2nd largest exporter of sugar
In Sugar Season (Oct-Sep) 2021-22, a record of more than 5000 Lakh Metric Tons (LMT) sugarcane was produced in the country out of which about 3574 LMT of sugarcane was crushed by sugar mills to produce about 394 LMT of sugar (Sucrose). Out of this, 35 LMT sugar was diverted to ethanol production and 359 LMT sugar was produced by sugar mills. With this, India has emerged as the world’s largest producer and consumer of sugar as well as the world’s 2nd largest exporter of sugar.
The season has proven to be a watershed season for Indian Sugar Sector. All records of sugarcane production, sugar production, sugar exports, cane procured, cane dues paid and ethanol production were made during the season.
Another shining highlight of the season is the highest exports of about 109.8 LMT that too with no financial assistance which was being extended upto 2020-21. Supportive international prices and Indian Government Policy led to this feat of Indian Sugar Industry. These exports earned foreign currency of about Rs. 40,000 crores for the country.
The success story of sugar industry is the outcome of synchronous and collaborative efforts of Central and State Governments, farmers, sugar mills, ethanol distilleries with very supportive overall ecosystem for business in the country. Timely Government interventions since last 5 years have been crucial in building the sugar sector step by step from taking them out of financial distress in 2018-19 to the stage of self-sufficiency in 2021-22.
During SS 2021-22, sugar mills procured sugarcane worth more than 1.18 lakh crore and released payment of more than 1.12 lakh crore with no financial assistance (subsidy) from Government of India. Thus, cane dues at the end of sugar season are less than ₹ 6,000 crore indicating that 95% of cane dues have already been cleared. It is also noteworthy that for SS 2020-21, more than 99.9% cane dues are cleared.
Government has been encouraging sugar mills to divert sugar to ethanol and also to export surplus sugar so that sugar mills may make payment of cane dues to farmers in time and also mills may have better financial conditions to continue their operations.
Growth of ethanol as biofuel sector in last 5 years has amply supported the sugar sector as use of sugar to ethanol has led to better financial positions of sugar mills due to faster payments, reduced working capital requirements and less blockage of funds due to less surplus sugar with mills. During 2021-22, revenue of about ₹ 18,000 crore has been made by sugar mills/distilleries from sale of ethanol which has also played its role in early clearance of cane dues of farmers. Ethanol production capacity of molasses/sugar-based distilleries has increased to 605 crore litres per annum and the progress is still continuing to meet targets of 20% blending by 2025 under Ethanol Blending with Petrol (EBP) Programme. In new season, the diversion of sugar to ethanol is expected to increase from 35 LMT to 50 LMT which would generate revenue for sugar mills amounting to about ₹ 25,000 crores.
There is an optimum closing balance of 60 LMT of sugar which is essential to meet domestic requirements for 2.5 months. The diversion of sugar to ethanol and exports led to unlocking of value chain of the whole industry as well as improved financial conditions of sugar mills leading to more optional mills in ensuing season.
DFS modifies Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme for Civil Aviation sector
ECLGS necessary for collateral-free liquidity at reasonable interest rates to tide over their present cash flow problems
Recognising that an efficient and strong civil aviation sector is vital for the economic development of the country, the Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance, has modified the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) yesterday to enhance the maximum loan amount eligibility for airlines under ECLGS 3.0 to 100% of their fund based or non-fund-based loan outstanding as on the reference dates or Rs. 1,500 crore, whichever is lower; and of the above, Rs. 500 crore shall be considered, based on equity contribution by the owners.
All other criteria terms and conditions parameters prescribed under the operational guidelines of the ECLGS on 30.8.2022 shall be applicable as it is.
The modifications introduced are aimed to give necessary collateral-free liquidity at reasonable interest rates to tide over their present cash flow problems.
Earlier in March 2022, the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) was extended beyond March 2022, till March 2023, to implement the announcement made in the Union Budget 2022-23 by Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman. Keeping in view the high proportion of non-fund based credit in the overall credit of the civil aviation sector, the eligible borrowers were permitted to avail up to 50% of their highest total fund and non-fund based credit outstanding, subject to a maximum of Rs. 400 crore per borrower.
Analysis on “Climate resilient housing structures for marginalised communities living in coastal areas”
Climate change has emerged as one of the pressing issues of the 21st century. Climate change is like a pandemic, it does not spare even the most advanced countries. Weather and climatic extremes are becoming more common as a result of human-caused climate change across the world. Acute occurrences of storms, droughts, floods, cyclical fluctuations in precipitation and long-term variations in temperature and sea levels, are all made more likely by climate change. This will result in deaths, injuries, and poor health related diseases, as well as damage to infrastructure, livelihoods and natural resources. Marginalised communities who live in old and substandard houses and have limited resources are especially susceptible to floods and cyclones. Approximately 40% of the world’s population now lives within 100 km of a coastline and 100 m of sea level. it is anticipated that by 2030 half of the world’s population would reside in coastal areas. As per the World Bank study (2018), climate change will relocate 143 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and south Asia. Climate proofing the houses and infrastructure for all is a necessity.
Climate change and vulnerability of India’s Coastal infrastructure
India is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change and simultaneously suffers from endemic levels of poverty. In recent years, India has experienced an increase in the severity and frequency of weather events and climate-related natural disasters.India is the third-worst-affected country due to the climatic disasters. In India 170 million people live in the coastal regions. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, between 2008 and 2018, over 3.6 million Indians were moved every year, the majority as a result of monsoon rains, which are the heaviest in South Asia. As per the report Human Cost of Disasters (2000-2019) published by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, India has the third highest number of disaster events. It is also the second most impacted country by floods with 345 million people affected. Extreme cyclones namely the recent Yaas, Amphan, Fani, Gaja, and Hudhud, as well as catastrophic floods, have wreaked havoc on its coastal states of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala. The mangrove ecosystem, which acts as a natural barrier against cyclones and coastal erosion in coastal areas, has been badly harmed and is expected to be further harmed as an outcome of climate change. According to estimates from the Central Water Commission, the total damage from climate-related extreme weather events on infrastructure and housing is more than INR 36 million, or 3% of India’s GDP.
The major cyclone Fani hit Odisha with a population of around 46 million people, in May 2019. State authorities used an effective early-warning system to evacuate 1.2 million people in 24 hours, making it one of the largest evacuations in history and earning praise from the United Nations. With the increasing effects of climate change, tens of thousands more people may be forced to migrate or be displaced from high-risk areas along the Indian coast. Many families may be forced to relocate within their own state or further afield to avoid the effects of sea level rise and coastal inundation if concrete climate and development action is not taken. It is imperative that climate resilient infrastructure and houses are built which are affordable, safe and adequate which could benefit the people living in poverty.
Safeguarding future prosperity
Acknowledging the effects of climate change on our lives and directing all our resources and efforts towards the attainment of climate resilience is important. Climate resilience refers to the ability to predict, prepare for, and assess how climate change can create hazardous events and take steps to cope with such events. Adaptation to climate change for people living in coastal areas is a necessity. Infrastructure that is both accessible and functional is critical to human well-being and economic progress. People living in coastal areas are vulnerable to triple threats which are limited resources for affordable housing infrastructure, socioeconomic vulnerability, and increased flooding due to sea level rise.
As climatic conditions worsens and extreme weather events like floods, storms and cyclones are becoming normal in the climate-constrained weather. To maintain the global average temperature below the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree safe limit, collaborative action and funding is required. Government and Non Governmental Organisation should come together to take preventive measures which would ultimately reduce disaster risks and post recovery losses. It is imperative to invest in making climate resilient housing for the people. There is a huge requirement of funds which can be solved if the government incentivises private investors to enter into the long term contracts with Development Financial Institutions to work on innovative and sustainable houses for the marginalised communities. If appropriately managed, relocating communities from hazard-prone places can be a valuable adaptation strategy for providing alternatives to physical protection. However, there is a need for more forward looking sustainable housing planning to protect the people living in coastal areas who are vulnerable. Sensitising and raising awareness amongst the people about the benefits of climate resilient houses is also a significant component for the planning. Furthermore, strong community demand and community support can lead to decision-makers and planners reaching a consensus. Currently, India’s construction industry is altering its building processes in order to minimise greenhouse gas emissions and make sustainable buildings more accessible to individuals with limited financial resources. Failure to do so sufficiently will put marginalised communities in more danger in the future.
Abhinav is an Practicing Advocate based out of Delhi & Parth is a law Scholar.
Dispute, Discrepancy, and Debate: Anti-Arbitration Injunctions in India
Overview of Anti Arbitration Injunctions
The conundrum of anti-arbitration injunctions is similar to the relationship between a devil and deep blue sea, thereby, addressing the two-sided sword of danger and distress irrespective of choosing directions. India’s approach on anti-arbitration injunctions can be summarized more or less on the same lines. In common parlance, an anti-arbitration injunction suit seeks to injunct the initiation of arbitration proceedings. Generally, the parties prefer to take this recourse before the initiating arbitration proceedings. However, the same is not confined to narrow boundaries and hence, recourse can be availed before the tribunal passes the final award.
There are two broad limbs while dealing with such injunctions. On one hand, it is argued that this remedy strikes the power of arbitral tribunal to regulate or decide its own jurisdiction which results in increasing judicial intervention. On the other hand, it is argued in cantena of judgments that the duty of the court to ‘refer’ parties to the arbitration plays a vital role. The Hon’ble Apex Court in Vidya Drolia & Ors. v. Durga Trading Corporation (“Vidya Drolia”) reiterated four-fold conditions for determining arbitrability of disputes by appropriate forum viz., (i) instances where cause of action and subject matter of the dispute relates to actions in rem, not pertaining to subordinate rights in personam which arise from rights in rem, (ii) mutual adjudication would not be appropriate when cause of action and subject matter of the dispute inherently affects third party rights and hence, centralized adjudication must be there, (iii) mutual adjudication not possible when cause of action and subject matter of the dispute relates to sovereign and public interest functions of the State, and (iv) when the subject-matter of the dispute is expressly, or by necessary implication non-arbitrable as per mandatory statute.
Further, in P. Anand Gajapathi Raju v. P.V.G. Raju (Died) another set of principles were crystalised, viz., firstly, there must be an arbitration agreement; secondly, a party to the agreement must bring an action in the court against the opposite party; thirdly, similar subject matter of the action and arbitration agreement; and fourthly, the other party must move to the court for arbitration before it submits its first statement on the substance of the dispute. Simultaneous reading of S. 8 & 45 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”) makes it clear that the remedy of anti-arbitration injunction sustains limited judicial intervention. India is struggling to find a fine line of balance on the issue of autonomy to arbitral tribunals and ability of courts to interfere in matters pertaining to jurisdiction, injustices, or aggravation in any arbitration proceedings.
Narrow Bridge Prior to Bina Modi-Lalit Modi and Amazon-Future Retail
Section 16 of the Act encircles the principle of Kompetenz-Kompetenz which talks about the issue of jurisdiction by arbitral tribunal as sufficient and efficient. In the case of Uttarakhand Purv Sainik Kalyan Nigam Ltd. v. Northern Coal Field Ltd, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, while examining this backbone principle applied this principle and held that “the dispute related to the arbitrability should be decided by the tribunal itself and courts can interfere only when there is no agreement at all or whether the consent to enter into an agreement is vitiated by fraud or misrepresentation.” Hence, under the said Act, the challenge before a court is maintainable only after the final award is passed as provided by sub-section (6) of Section 16. In the case of N.N. Global Mercantile v. Indo Unique Flame Ltd, similar footings were observed while dealing with the said principle. Interestingly, in Kvaerner Cementation India Limited v. Bajranglal Agarwal, it was held that the civil court do not have the jurisdiction to interfere in arbitral matters, owing to the principle of Kompetenz-Kompetenz which focuses on the competence of a court.
Quite recently, the Calcutta High Court denied the contention of forum non conveniens while restraining the other party from taking steps for a London-seated arbitration while reiterating that the contract was signed cautiously. Similarly, in Sancorp Confectionary v. Gumlik, the Delhi High Court refused to interfere and stated that all objections shall be heard by the arbitral tribunal itself. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in World Sport Group v. MSM Satellite Singapore Ltd while analysing the issue whether the arbitration agreement was null and void applied the principles of Section 45 of the Act. However, it is interesting and vital to note the case of Board of Trustees of Port of Kolkata v. Louis Dreyfus Armatures SAS & Ors where the Calcutta High Court granted anti-arbitration injunction and warned that it must only be granted in exceptional and unprecedented circumstances.
Window of Interference Post Bina Modi-Lalit Modi and Amazon-Future Retail
Recently, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Vidya Drolia laid down certain principles while analysing the issue of non-arbitrability, while placing substantial reliance on Duro Felguera and Boghara Polyfab. Firstly, the scope of judicial review under Section 8 and 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”) is identical but vastly limited, secondly, arbitral tribunal is the preferred authority to determine and decide all questions of non-arbitrability and court is the second option on such aspects, and thirdly, the court may interfere rarely only when it is manifestly and ex facie precise that the arbitration agreement is non-existent, invalid, or / and the disputes are non-arbitrable. Further, while following the principle of Kompetenz-Kompetenz, the Apex Court strongly observed that it is the arbitral tribunal which must be preferred as first authority to determine and decide all questions of non-arbitrability.
Recent judgments have shaken the balance between the courts and tribunals while sliding towards granting autonomy to arbitral tribunals. The suits in Bina Modi vs Lalit Modi were dismissed while reiterating the observation in Kvaerner Cementation wherein the Hon’ble Supreme Court dismissed suits as unmaintainable since an alternative remedy was present under Section 16 of the Act. Reliance was also placed on Section 41(h) of the Specific Relief Act, 1963, which bars the grant of injunctions when there is a possibility of deriving equally effective relief by any other usual mode of proceedings. The court while disallowing observed that the adequate remedy would be to approach the arbitral tribunal instead.
While hearing the Amazon-Future Retail, Justice Amit Bansal, stated that “there is only a very small window for interference with orders passed by the arbitral tribunal while exercising jurisdiction under Article 227. The said window becomes even narrower where the orders passed by the arbitral tribunal are procedural in nature.” The bench while upholding non-interference stated that the willingness of the court must be of utmost importance and added that arbitrators have a far greater flexibility in adopting procedure to conduct the arbitration proceedings as compared to civil courts and concluded by stating that nothing was found to suggest that the arbitral tribunal has denied equal opportunity to the parties or that it has not been accommodating towards the requests of the petitioners. Recently, the Supreme Court has set aside the orders of the Delhi High Court which initiated coercive steps against the companies and its promoters Biyanis for alleged violation of the Emergency Award passed by the Singapore Tribunal on the application filed by e-commerce giant Amazon.
In Vidya Drolia, the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s attempt to pose responsibility on the lower Courts while ensuring caution in exercising authority over proceedings referred to it under the Act clearly shows that we’re moving towards a pro-arbitration regime which must be accepted by open arms in order to curb over-burdening of judiciary. Prima facie, there are two important questions; firstly, can we have a common rule that everything must be decided by the arbitral tribunal with no power in hands of the court?, and secondly, has India approached this issue as if it were caught between the devil and the deep sea in choosing to exclusively rest the jurisdiction with the arbitral tribunal? Practically speaking, in the Indian context, we cannot shut eyes on the fact that there may be instances wherein the courts need to interfere in rare and exceptional circumstances. At times, the arbitral proceedings can be oppressive, vexatious, and inequitable. The law on anti-arbitration injunction suits in India has certainly reached a stifling point and hence, aim to not evolve as oppressive, manifestly unfair, unreasonable, and prejudicial to the interest of the parties.
Bapu! Why don’t you come back again?
Not only India but the whole world celebrated Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, which made me think…
Let me say sorry to you. Your birthday was celebrated yesterday, October 2. It has become a tradition to write something on your birthday, just as there is a tradition of garlanding your statues at various intersections. There is the tradition of singing panegyrics to your virtue and then the misfortune of forgetting everything the next day. Even though I did not write anything, Bapu, my mind kept me restless throughout the day. Several questions kept raising their heads. I kept wondering who imprisoned our dear Bapu only in statues. Bapu! You took on the world’s biggest empire with such an ease and patience that the world was stunned! Have we forgotten the great man who freed us from the slavery of centuries?
As the Sun was about to set after celebrating your birthday, I felt that the questions which were stirring my mind must be agitating more people like me. Was it any easy task to awaken an almost uneducated country that had been in a deep slumber of ignorance for centuries? Bapu, when you came to India in 1915, toured the whole country and became active in the freedom movement in 1917, the literacy rate of the country was not even 7 per cent. The British were sending your sons and daughters across the sea as indentured labourers. The morale of the country was shattered but you did an amazing thing Bapu! No one had even imagined that your efforts, which looked very simple, would infuse consciousness in the country. Be it the Nilaha Kisan movement of Champaran or the 24-day Dandi March in March-April 1930 for the right to salt, they shook the sleeping soul of India awake. You taught this country to talk to the British on equal terms. When the Viceroy gave you the message to come to Delhi to meet him, what a befitting reply you gave! That, this country is ours. If you want to meet me, come down to Sevagram and I will be there! This also reminds me of the incident when you met George V in London. You were asked why you were clad in so few clothes? And what a wonderful answer you gave him: The king is wearing all the clothes!
Bapu! You were a source of inspiration for not just India but more than 40 countries. Thanks to you Bapu, those countries are free today! It was you who created awakening against apartheid. During his visit to India, Barack Obama too had said in the Parliament that had Gandhiji not been there, he would not have become the President.
You experienced and understood the pain in the common man’s life, and that is why you could do what no one could imagine. There is no such feeling of sensitivity left in our leaders, Bapu! I wish our leaders could learn from you! Today, the whole country is engaged in the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, something which you taught us Bapu. You fought for women’s education and equal rights when neither family nor society even thought about it. Today, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is in full swing, but the credit goes to you, Bapu! You must be seeing from wherever you are Bapu that the daughters of Mother India are scaling the pinnacle of success today. The national flag is flying high all over the world. There is a discussion to give one-third reservation to women today, whereas you had said long ago that if the country has to be taken on the path of progress, women will have to be given equal rights. If I think about your philosophy of life, I feel proud that on our soil there was a Mahatma called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi who thought about the welfare of humanity. Seeing the women using blowpipes to blow air into the hearth and ending up with damaged lungs, Bapu called the scientist Magan Bhai to Sevagram and asked him to invent such a hearth that would rid women of this problem. In this way, the Magan chulha came into existence! The practice of open defecation is being phased out today, and the credit for this too goes to you, Bapu. You taught us the skill of digging a pit and burying the dirt so that it gets converted into manure. Your goal was that man should get freedom from manual scavenging.
You understood India in a true sense and also found solutions to the problems in accordance with its ambiance. You talked about naturopathy. You taught us the value of everything right from the value of livestock to the value of soil. Rajiv Gandhi talked about ensuring and taking the fruits of democratic power to the last person in the villages, and today our Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making rapid efforts in that direction, but you are the father of this concept of village development, Bapu! You understood the power of youth, recognised the power of women, and realised the need for solidarity in society.
You started the eradication of untouchability and opened the temple gates for Dalits. You propagated humanity as the biggest religion to unite the country divided by caste, religion, and creed. When you talked about Ram Rajya, there was no religious exclusivity anywhere in it. There was a sense of equality for all. You paved the way for truth and non-violence when history was being stained with blood due to long periods of violence. That’s why you taught us to sing: Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, Patit Pawan Sita Ram; Ishwar Allah tero naam, sabko sanmati de bhagwan! You believed in forgiveness, non-violence, fasting, friendship, and brotherhood. Lord Mahavir and Lord Buddha resided in your conscience.
You also wanted the villages to benefit from science, so you became friends with the great scientist Albert Einstein. He rightly said about you: “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.” The situation is the same today. It is our fault Bapu that today’s generation does not know anything about you properly! Bapu, why don’t you come to this land of Bharat once again? Many of your dreams are still unfulfilled, Bapu!
The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.
Bombay High Court grants bail to Anil Deskmukh, remains in jail
In a money laundering case brought by the Enforcement Directorate, the Bombay high court on Tuesday granted bail to former Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Anil Deshmukh.
The bail was granted on a surety amount of Rs 1 lakh. The ED has asked for a two-week delay in the order’s implementation.
Deshmukh was arrested in November of last year and moved the high court after his bail request was rejected earlier this year by a special PMLA court.
Deshmukh has been given bail in the ED case, but he will continue to be held in relation to the CBI case that was brought against him in April of last year.
The Supreme Court had earlier ordered the High Court to quickly hear and resolve the NCP leader’s case because it had been pending for six months.
Deshmukh’s lawyers, Vikram Chaudhari and Aniket Nikam, argued that the senior NCP politician ought to be given bail in light of his age (72), good health, and lack of prior convictions.
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