I was kicked out of India by Mrs Indira Gandhi’s government because I was not prepared to sit quietly and watch the country’s institutions being subverted during the Emergency. Not that I did a lot, or even anything much. I only raised my voice. And, as I was merely 25 at the time, the system could afford to ignore me – and did ignore me as long as there were (lots! thousands! tens of thousands!) of more important people.
Eventually, however, the system caught up with me.
I was given the choice of joining the Party or leaving the country.
I was lucky. Many tens of thousands were locked up – and how many were simply eliminated we still do not know.
Much later, I gathered that about 200 young people had been given the choice between exile and the Party, as they were considered “too intelligent to kill”. Where the others went, I have no idea. But I am aware of at least one other person in Europe who was then young, and who is now I guess around 60 years old.
After Mrs Indira Gandhi abandoned the stupidities of the Emergency and returned the country to democracy, it became possible for me to return, and I have done so more or less often. However, most of my visits have lasted, for various reasons, only about a week.
Having been in India for about a month now, and having spent time in Mumbai, Goa and the National Capital Region, I am coming to the conclusion that we have four kinds of Indians.
A few – a very few – are like trees. By which I mean that they are rooted in the soil, and they not only produce enough to sustain themselves, they are actually productive enough to provide for others: shade and flowers and fruit. They beautify the landscape and contribute to the country in every way.
However, these trees may or may not attract notice. Most of the people who come to the headlines and attract public attention are like foxes or jackals – sniffing around for the best way of exploiting or attacking the living and the dead, in order to take as much from the country as possible.
Then we have the parasites: concerned with making as little effort as possible but living off the system. This includes not only smaller businesspeople, but all those who focus on collecting “unofficial taxes”. That’s most (or at least many) of our bureaucrats, police, teachers, doctors…
Finally, we have the “window watchers” – who constitute the majority in our country. They can see what is going on, but can’t or won’t (or, in any case, don’t) exert themselves to change anything. That includes not only our ordinary citizens, but also most of our professionals – who should certainly be in a position to exert some leverage.
In this discouraging and dry landscape, I have finally come across a ray of hope: India’s first political party founded on ethical principles. Titled the Adarsha Rashtra Vikas Party (ideal nation development party), it was founded in Autumn 2009 and is based in Lucknow. What makes the party different from all the others that we have had since Independence is its commitment to ethics, equality, human rights and development (all necessary for an “ideal” nation).
Of course, every party pays lip service to such values, so what’s different about the ARVP? Well, it does not allow people to have any level of leadership unless they undertake “ethical training” at their own expense each month.
Naturally, in light of the cleverness of our people and the deviousness of our culture, and in light of the fact that the party is in its infancy, it needs to put lots of things in place in order to be both successful in ethics and successful in politics.
I asked the founder, Mr Mohan Philip, why he thinks the ARVP will be successful. He replied that the country is now completely fed up with the sort of unethical politics which has been practiced. And why had other ethically-oriented parties, such as the Professionals Party, failed at the last general election? “Because they did nothing at the grass roots”.
What the ARVP is doing at the grass roots is truly remarkable, as it builds up a cadre of people committed to ethical action.
I am going to do all that I can to support the party and I hope that you will want to at least find out about this first ray of political hope for our country.