Mon, April 15, 2024

Stand Up Against Corruption

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To transform a stagnant population into a vibrant one, what is it that is missing in this country? I think in many ways we have not had a vibrant leadership. When I say leadership, it is not just the question of Prime Minister or Chief Minister. On different levels, right from the village level there has not been the necessary tools to enthuse people to participate in the nation building process. One unfortunate thing that has happened to this country is in terms of leadership, there has been such a vacuum right from day one. During the freedom struggle, we saw a galaxy of leadership but that was a different type of leadership, people who were agitating against an occupying force. Mahatma Gandhi is an example of one such leader, who did a fabulous job. I want you to understand, that is one kind of talent, how to stop the nation. The whole Satyagraha was just about how to stop the nation, and he brought the British down to their knees by simply stopping everything. All these bandhs came from those days, but we still have not shaken off this habit. The foreign invasion is gone, it is our own nation now, but we still cannot shake off this habit, we still want to do bandhs. The government, the administration is calling for a bandh, yes? The very administration which is supposed to make the nation go is talking about how to stop it for two days. Stopping the nation is one kind of talent, making it happen is another kind of talent. So, because agitators have become administrators they cannot understand what to do. The country definitely needs a different level of leadership. In the last four, five years, as I move closely with political leadership, it scares me. There are very wonderful ones also who are struggling, but many of them simply do not have an iota of concern for the people whom they are supposed to govern. Managing a nation is not an easy thing, you have to do many things to keep it going, I understand that. I am not asking them to be sages and saints, but right now they are just eating up the very core of the nation. They are not licking their hands a little bit, they are eating the very core of the nation.
Politicians are just people like you; they got elected, you did not. Nobody is willing to vote for you, somebody is willing to vote for them. Some people have the opportunity to exercise their qualities, some people don’t have the opportunity. So we are only electing the kind of people that we are.
This is not about just blaming the political leadership. The general integrity in the country has gone down dramatically. Whenever I go to public meetings, people say “Oh the politicians are corrupt.” I say, “Don’t say that.” I just ask a simple question, “If you are driving in your city. There is no policeman. Red light comes; how many of you will stop? Not even 10% of you. So if I make you the Minister, what kind of Minister will you be?” And that is the kind we will have. So this is not about blaming the political leadership. The general sense of integrity has come down dramatically in the country. Sixty or seventy years ago, this was a land which boasted of a Mahatma Gandhi, where we talked about integrity in the highest possible way, where people were willing to throw down their lives on the street for the country. But in just one generation, the level of integrity has dropped so badly and we have not made any concerted effort towards raising this integrity. Politicians are just people like you; they got elected, you did not. Nobody is willing to vote for you, somebody is willing to vote for them. Some people have the opportunity to exercise their qualities, some people don’t have the opportunity. So we are only electing the kind of people that we are. This is another pastime in the country - always blaming the politicians for everything. Yes, there is much we desire from the leadership, but we only get the kind of leaders that we deserve. This needs to be understood. There is no integrity in the population, so there is no integrity in the leadership. This is just the result of the corruption that every parent has put into their child. This is not about the Chief Minister or the Prime Minister or the government official or somebody. This is the corruption that every parent, every mother has breast-fed into the child, “Don’t bother what is happening around you, just take care of yourself.” I think most families are encouraging this in their children, isn’t it so? So corruption is very natural. We have to change this, and this is not one day’s work. We have to change this with ourselves first, with our children, with whatever businesses we are running. We have to change it at all levels. It is not easy. It takes a big toll because every day the whole atmosphere around you sucks you into it in a million different ways. But if we really want to produce something, if we want to build a nation where we can live well, we have to do that. There is no other way. Yes, definitely there is a lot that the governments can do, but for whatever reasons they have not been able to do it. We think that successive governments will do it better, but it has not happened. One thing that is distinctly happening all over the world, in the next 10 to 15 years the economic leaders in the world will be playing a far bigger role than the political leaders. This is bound to happen. In India also it is beginning to happen. If this happens, the possibility of bringing corruption down to a certain level is there. At the end of the tunnel, there seems to be a possibility. So I see that is the only possibility rather than simply talking about punitive measures which have not worked because if you put up some vigilance, the vigilance is corrupt. For that corrupt vigilance, you need to put up one more super vigilance. It is just not working. As long as only the bureaucracy and political powers rule, this has always been the way. It is not just one country, everywhere this has been the way. But when the economic leadership starts handling the majority of the country, then they cannot afford to be corrupt because corruption is not good for them. READ ALSO:
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MARCH 2024

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