Wages of ill-informed sick society

The sickening episode of self-styled “godman” and rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim throws up a number of critical social and political issues which ought to grip the attention of citizens who have reasons to be concerned about the country’s state of drift in recent years. I am not looking at these happenings through politico-religious angularities often indulged in by the Congress and its UPA allies or the BJP and its NDA partners.

Nor am I prompted by Hindutva-bashing which has been the standard practice of a section of “secular and progressive forces” in the polity. I wish to look at sensitive issues revolving around the head of Dera Sacha Sauda objectively and try to find out how and why socio-religious matters have been hijacked by fake holy- men in our society.

The Special CBI Court has pronounced 20 years’ sentence to the rape convict. All credit to the CBI for having come out of its old mindset of “protecting” the cult leader at the biding of his political mentors, from NDA-1 to UPA-1 and 2 and now NDA-2. Perhaps, we shall never know what exactly transpired under different establishments for 15 years after Sirsa’s local journalist, Ram Chander Chhatrapati who exposed Ram Rahim’s dubious activities, was shot dead in October 2002. No tears are being shed for Chhatrapati. What a shame!

Is this not the failure of Haryana’s leaders who, instead of looking at his shady acts, were guided by vote gains from the followers of high-profile Ram Rahim? The gravity of crimes of such political leaders is serious. They left the poor and Dalit of backward areas of Haryana and Punjab at the mercy of “godmen” who used the platform of satsang, kirtan and bhajan to build their own parallel empires.

How could the state authorities allow them to build a virtual state of their own within the State with all the luxuries of life and even private armies? This harsh reality tells us a lot about the poor quality of personalized governance. The file pictures of such “godmen” with leaders of different parties tell us how ill-informed and sick our society has become, notwithstanding the thundering rhetoric of Narendra Modi about the poor and Digital India.

Talking about Digital India is fine. But the moot point is: who will take care of disprivileged and deprived sections of society scattered across the country? What about the promised economic uplift of millions of people who are still struggling for two square meals, minimum healthcare for children and their right to education and good living conditions even after 71 years of independence?

Haryana has been in focus for the past several years because of two holy men – Gurmeet Ram Rahim and earlier in 2014 Rampal Singh Jatin. Also, in the headlines recently has been Haryana’s BJP Chief Minister Ram Lal Khattar who has a fairly good RSS background. He was pulled up by the judiciary for his failure to maintain law and order in Panchkula.

I had a good impression about RSS persons because of their disciplined approach to personal and social matters and dedication to the causes they believe in. However, Chief Minister Khattar has exposed himself at least on three occasions as a non-performer. It is a different matter that he has publicly expressed happiness at his performance! Knowledgeable persons, however, think it otherwise. He is certainly going to survive as chief minister as long as he enjoys the backing of Prime Minister Modi. Who cares for ground realities?

My point is simple: how could the BJP high command tolerate inefficient persons in key positions? The BJP leadership’s tragedy is that it is following the footsteps of the Congress for petty gains. May I, therefore, legitimately ask: in what way is the BJP a party with a difference? BJP chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Modi have a lot to answer on this count.

The people understand what is what. It hardly matters if the glass is half empty or half full. What is important in public perception is how deep is our leaders’ understanding of socio-economic and political complexities of India, that is, Bharat ?

In this grim setting, what is disquieting is the absence of social reformers. Some high-profile swamis have either got themselves commercialized or politicized under the canopy of yoga power. Nothing wrong with this, provided they draw a lakshman rekha between minting money and commitment to social causes.

The right sort of political dharma actually holds the key to the country’s turbulence-free order and all-round improvement in the quality of public life. The phenomena of Rampal Singh Jatin and Gurmeet Ram Rahim are aberrations in our socio-economic and political functioning. This must not be used as a tool for decrying Hinduism and the rich legacy of our great sages and rishis who have given this nation the basic greatness and vibrance of Indian spirit of tolerance and mutual understanding.

Rampal Singh Jatin’s Satlok Ashram and Gurmeet Ram Rahim’s Dera Sacha Sauda are, in a way, wages of the state’s failures to empower the poor, the have-nots and tribals of our society. The poor system of governance at the grassroots has created a fertile ground for self-styled godmen to grow in style under the patronage of the powers-that-be.

The poor and the illiterate are apparently taken for a ride by custodians of these deras and ashrams since they meet their daily needs for food, shelter and healthcare. True, some of these deras in the Punjab-Haryana region are genuine as they work at the grassroots to help the poor to come up in life. Some deras stood up boldly against the militancy in Punjab. This, however, does not absolve the ruling establishments of their failures to
uplift the lives of the downtrodden section of our society.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has shown rare guts by speaking out boldly on the Chief Minister’s failure to maintain law and order in Panchkula. Apart from reprimanding the Haryana government, it has reminded Narendra Modi that “he is the Prime Minister not of the BJP, but of India”. Be that as it may. The issues raised by recent disturbing events have wider dimensions which must be seen in a larger national framework for creating a just, humane and egalitarian society that the country badly needs.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *