"TO WHOM SHALL WE GO?"
-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
January 30th - comes as a grim reminder that Mahatma Gandhi had to sacrifice his life for the sake of truth and non-violence. This reality, becomes a greater challenge to each one of us in India today, as scam after scam and violence of every nature, tumble out from the nation's cupboard of skeletons.
The list is endless indeed: from Bofors to the CVC; from CWG to 2G; from Adarsh to illegal mining; from the powerful oil mafia (who are ready to burn alive the likes of Sonawane) to the hoarders of onions and other necessary commodities, who profit from black-marketeering….. Above all, no one wants to deal with the mind-boggling volumes of black money stashed away in secret coffers abroad.
Gujarat never lags behind: the killings of Amit Jethwa, Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jahan, are but the tip of an iceberg of rot, which has grown deep and wide. The powerful industrial lobby and other vested interests get what they want literally "overnight"! Nexuses are blatantly obvious. Queries on the Right to Information show how the State is being sold for a song.
There is also the other side: the average citizen has no qualms of conscience to grease the palms of another in order 'to get things done', for themselves. "That is the only way to do it"! they say; – to take out a hundred rupee note to give the traffic cop who has hauled you up for an offence; to give the festival "baksheesh" to the postman or to the municipal sweepers on demand or for that matter the undisclosed amount which one necessarily has to pay up in order to get one's promotion or a lucrative transfer. All this is common knowledge as we seem to have fine-tuned and mainstreamed the art of corruption.
Many ordinary citizens do not know whom to turn to, as even some of the Judges of the Highest Court of the land are accused of being corrupt. Those who stand up against the establishment and vested interests are hounded, intimidated, accused of sedition and even killed. A palpable fear is evident as many would opt 'to live and let live'. Few dare to question.
A sense of national outrage and shame permeates the air. Attempts are being made to galvanise and mobilize citizens from across the board to take on corruption head long. A new 'Lok Pal' bill is envisaged. Some things are happening.
"Hey Ram!" The Mahatma, is perhaps crying out in anguish, as he wonders what is happening in the land of his birth! But there is hope: all is not lost. Our country still boasts of millions of women and men, who try to emulate the sterling example given to us by 'Bapu'. The road ahead will be difficult, but one has faith in the motto of our country 'Satyameva Jayate' – Truth alone Triumphs!
(*Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)
29th January, 2011
Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052