Morality sans politics – cause for erosion in public life: Governor

By News Agency of Kashmir

Jammu : “Inspite of degeneration in politics, India is fast emerging as a global power of the 21 st century on the strength of its talented human resource material and enterprising entrepreneurs”.

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‘How much more we as a Nation can achieve with a better quality of political leadership combined with moral value”? Governor Lt. General (Retd) S K Sinha asked while delivering annual benchmark lecture on Morality and Politics at University of Jammu this morning.

He set the tone for his talk by quoting from the great philosopher, Dr Radhakrishnan’s address to the Constituent Assembly “Much has been said about the sovereignty of our people. We have held that ultimate sovereignty rests with the moral law. People as well as rulers are subordinate to it. Righteousness is the King of Kings”

Pained over rampant corruption and dwindling values in politics, the Governor, who is known for his plain speaking, while recounting the Gandhian era lamented that politics without morality has brought about great degeneration in public life. ‘The ideal of both right end and right means has given way to dubious ends through dubious means’, he said, adding that the politics of sufferings and sacrifice of yesteryears has now become a profession of profit not only for oneself but also for generations of one’s family.

Without criticizing anyone, the Governor while referring to degradation that has come about in the country hurriedly added that ‘even today we have some individual leaders in politics who uphold high moral values but they are the exception’. He stressed the need for considering positive measures that can eradicate the widespread infirmities in the public life by radically improving educational and electoral systems. He observed that corruption is rampant in every sphere of activity and elections have become the fountainhead of not only corruption but also crime, communalism and casteism. ‘This malady has to be cured’, he said and strongly favoured electoral reforms to ensure purity in elections. He said that Election Commission of India from Seshan to Gopalaswamy has established its credibility in trying to ensure purity in elections but it is hamstrung in its efforts due to our not carrying out electoral reforms.

General Sinha also sought improvement in educational system and advocated that the temples of learning should remain apolitical and not become the battlefield of party politics. ‘Politics should be studied at our Universities but there should be no participation in party politics’, he said, mentioning that varsities in developed countries keep away from party politics. ‘While focusing on job-oriented education, we must promote moral values too’, he said.

In an hour long lucid lecture, heard in rapt attention by the jam packed Zorawar Auditorium of Jammu University, the Governor discussed in detail the pre-independence era in India, describing it as a blend of politics and morality. He referred to the episodes from the lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Jayprakash Narayan. He said that despite their towering political stature, they always practiced high moral values. These leaders, he said, made great sacrifice and accepted great suffering for the cause to which they were dedicated. He said they showed no consideration for any gain for themselves, adding that ‘they should be the role models for the political leaders of the present era’. In a special reference to Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, he said that the Frontier Gandhi got fully converted to the Mahatma’s creed of non-violence and achieved a miracle for converting turbulent tribesmen to non-violence. He mobilized 80, 000 Khudai Khidmatgars. He referred to an incident in Peshawar when some Khudai Khidmatgars calmly stood in a line, offering no opposition and waiting to be shot by the Army. This so influenced Garhwal soldiers that when ordered by their British Commander to open fire, refused to do so. ‘This showed the might of non-violence’, he said and paid tribute to Badshah Khan, who opposed the two Nation theory and religious fundamentalism, tooth and nail. He said the great thing about the Frontier Gandhi was the tremendous sacrifice and commitment to his convictions. He spent many years in British jails before independence and several more years in Pakistan Jails, after Partition, where the treatment accorded to him was worse than what he had suffered during British days.

Further elaborating on the topic of the lecture, the Governor made a distinction between a statesman and a politician, saying that the former has a wide and long term vision and thinks of the future while the latter has a limited and myopic vision who thinks only of the next election. He wished the young generation that takes to politics should strive to become statesmen rather than politicians. He added that in a democracy assertive and vigilant public opinion can ensure that moral values are not ignored nor are they allowed to be trampled upon

Emphasizing the need for adhering to moral values and ending corruption, the Governor said that many civilizations have been destroyed as a result of internal corruption rather than external aggression. Regimes have collapsed on erosion of their moral authority by deep rooted and prolonged corruption. He concluded with the great words of Swami Vivekananda…’ “A wonderful glorious picture of India will come. I am sure it is coming: a greater India than ever was… On our work depends the coming of the India of the future. She is there ready, waiting. Arise and awake and see her seated on her eternal throne, rejuvenated, more glorious than she ever was, this motherland of ours”.

Vice Chancellor, Professor Amitabh Mattoo introduced the Governor to the audience. Earlier, the Governor released a book ‘The last colony’ –Muzaffarabad-Gilgit-Baltistan published by India Research Press in collaboration with Centre for Strategic and Regional Studies, University of Jammu. (NAK)