June 5, 2011

The Means to an End

"Means to an End" is the guiding principle in my life. I have always been on the side of 'means' being as important as the 'end' in itself, in all discussions. While we can quote instances from the Ramayana and Mahabharata (I have not read any other scripture - so please pardon!) to be otherwise, as mere mortals, I am firmly of the opinion that its our dharma to also consider the 'means'. (I am reading Krishnavatara and so my language has been influenced by K M Munshi here:)).

Lets take the current civil society movement, as an example. The intentions and the 'end' is highly desirable and needed in our country but the 'means' through which it is being fought leaves one a little dis-illusioned. It is extremely commendable what Shri Anna Hazare and his team achieved and mobilised swiftly. Creating awareness, making the Indian citizens aware of the extent of corruption and strenghtening the Lokpal is simply brilliant. The whole nation rallied behind this move and captured the mood of people. For the first time, I believed that the apathy levels amongst average Indians are not that bad and people do respond to 'social movements'.

What is equally important is to also know when to take a bow and also to work within the democratic machinary. This sadly is not being demonstrated by the Anna Hazare team. And if we were to take Baba Ramdev's recent 'fast', the credibility further comes down and leaves more questions in people's mind than answers them. Baba Ramdev says he has simple demands which the government ought to agree upon, failing which, he will go on a fast unto death. Is this the way to make the government work? And if you read his demands, he seems to have a say on black money, MNCs, land aquisition act, genetically modified food, indian currency denominations etc...

While asking for money stashed abroad is an important point that will have consensus, who is he to tell the government to send the MNCs out, and ban genetically modified foods? Does he know more than experts in this field?? In today's world of globalisation with all its pitfalls, shunning MNCs is the most ridiculous argument, that holds no water. Today, we have Indian companies that have taken over companies in UK, US, South Africa etc.  What will you like to call these?? Does he know if ICICI is an Indian or foreign bank? Today, Indians can and do invest in companies abroad and vice versa. So what's he saying about MNCs.

I have written many posts on genetically modified food and the concerns and myths... To put it simply, he knows not what he is talking about. Does he think all the best brains with the experience behind them, don't know what they are doing and he knows ALL?? 

So, that brings us to the question of "to what extent can civil society go in using these pressure tactics??" Whilst such movements have their place and are certainly required, one needs a little maturity to also rein in, and not get carried away by the success of the movement. One needs to know when to start and where to step aside in such movements. In my opinion, the movement has started well, the leaders ought to know the limits and learn to withdraw and work within the domain of democracy. Its a skill and I hope they learn to practise it as there will be no difference between these leaders and others who pronounce that they are fighting for a cause, too!! (terrorists, naxalites, maoists, secessionists, etc.) 

Which is why I feel my stand is vindicated on the means being as important as the end - holds true, once again!!

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