The very fact that Baba Ramdev could attract crowds is not because he is some sort of a leader but because of one underlying factor : there is a disconnect between the masses and the rulers of the day .The vacuum is wide, spreading out. Any shrewd man or woman who just about knows how to deliver an emotional speech can step in and use people’s anger, to further his or her own ambitions and with that add another dimension to the chaos spreading around .
To fight the corrupt in the establishment you need a genuine leader who is above political tilts and slants .Apolitical in every sense of the term. And this is lacking in today’s men who are said to be leading these recent protests, these uprisings.
Did you hear Anna or Ramdev utter a word or a full fledged sentence against communally tainted politicians ? No, no direct or even an indirect attack on the communal ! Why ? After all , communally charged politicians are as dangerous as the corrupt ones but there’s a definite quiet on that vital front . Why ?
Look around , a leader is missing on every front . It was bizarre to see PA Sangma play up his tribal card just before the Presidential candidature .What has he done for the tribal population of this country ? This , when tribal land and identity and property is getting looted in the name of development and progress . It is a known fact that tribal men and women are exploited in different spheres and yet the so called tribal leaders play political games .
And what have the so called Muslim politicians done for the Muslim masses ! Nothing , except use them , use their votes to be precise . Three or four Muslims are hand picked by the establishment , to be fitted along the so called prime slots . And they in turn maintain that ‘safe’ distance from the masses .No , there’s little connect . And with that none to hear those genuine woes and grievances . In fact , this brings me to write that the disastrous tragedy that took place at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan is an offshoot of this reality – the Muslim community lacks a apolitical leader and this community is used by politicians to further their vote bank politics. Why did that protest – meet turn so horribly violent and vulgar ? Why couldn’t that anger be contained ? Why were they provoked to rioting , that horrible violence unleashed by vested interests ? Who gave those provocative speeches ? And why ? Who placed them on the dais ? For what ! Were big political interests and bigger political players involved in that mess ?
There’s turbulence hitting . That connect between the rulers and masses ought to come about immediately , otherwise the vacuum will stretch , to be filled by Ramdevs .As of now , you and I can’t even think of nearing those grievance cells or commissions or those men and women heading them . Not just the security phobias come in way , but also those definite relays that files are merely pushed from here to there. Also, those realities that big bodied commissions are set up so that those turbulences are somehow silenced for the time being , till the next general elections .
Doesn’t the government of the day know of the possible turbulences and grievances yet it refuses to react . Simply refuses to reach out, to try and bridge that ever widening gap.
In fact, the government of the day could at least help contain the growing anger amongst the masses .Or else help the release of that anger through some of those non – violent ways – unleash of that anger on paper , through dialogue at organized platforms .So that the young don’t sit rounded up, languishing in those prison cells.
KHUSHWANT TURNS 98 …
Just after filing this column I’m rushing off to meet Khushwant Singh. Its his birthday – born in village Hadali ( undivided Punjab , in Pakistan’s Sargodha district ) ) in 1915 , he celebrates two birthdays – 2 February and also on 15 August .Why two birthdays ? “ My father was certain I was born on 2 February but my paternal grandmother was equally certain that I was born in the midst of bhadon , so I celebrate it on 15 August too …”
In fact, Khushwant is one of those rare men who has tried his level best to bridge that gap between communities .This when he got uprooted during the Partition and had to move from there to here – from Lahore to New Delhi. And though decades have passed but he looks very emotional at the very mention of his birthplace – village Hadali . In fact, several years back Minoo Bhandara – the well known parliamentarian of Pakistan who’d later died in a freak car accident in China – had brought a couple of photographs of Khushwant’s ancestral home in that village . Seeing them Khushwant had got nostalgic – “ Last when I’d visited my village it was a very emotional experience ,with a reception held for me and people coming to meet me . Ours was a large haveli and today it lies occupied by three refugee families who had gone from Rohtak …It was touching to see the gurdwara in the village still intact .Even during the Partition nobody touched the gurdwara though the village population was 90% Muslims and there were few Sikh and Hindu families .”
In fact , Khushwant is one of the few who did not let the bitterness of the Partition affect him .Not just that but he has done his bit to better Sikh Muslim ties .As he says , “I have always wanted to bridge the gap between Sikhs and Muslims …When I was awarded the Rockefeller Fellowship I decided to write the two volumes on the history of the Sikhs under the auspices of the Aligarh Muslim University …No , never did I develop any anti – Muslim feeling… no , not even during the Partition upheaval . Two persons have left a deep impact on me -my Urdu teacher Maulvi Shafiuddin Nayar at the Modern School , New Delhi , and the other was Manzoor Qadir , my lawyer friend in Lahore …Also, the first woman I fell in love with was a Muslim from Hyderabad. She was my sister’s friend and had come to Delhi to study …I fell in love with her and it made me bond with the entire community …”
And though he is a self proclaimed atheist but its only through him that have I learnt the maximum about the Sikh religion and Sikh history .He has written extensively on the Sikh faith and on the community .One volume after another .In fact , I must write this – several years back whilst we were in the midst of some discussion he asked me whether I had been inside a gurdwara .
‘What ! You haven’t been inside a gurdwara !’ He’d exclaimed and the very next week he took me to a gurdwara …