The Word ‘Mahatma’

“In the journey from the dirt to the high citadels of power, one sometimes does not have the luxury of being a mahatma.”

Rajdeep Sardesai, Chief Editor, CNN-IBN (April 27th 2007)

Is this sentence, written in defense of Mayawati’s political methods, seen by Mr. Sardesai as no different from any other in the “arena”, just symptomatic of the state of North India today? Or is a reflection of a deeper affliction that this nation-state is suffering from? Could it be, that this outlook by one of the leading journalists of the country today, is a reflection of the sense of resignation that plagues us?

Has it become a word, which points towards how easy it is to justify a squelching of individual and civic rights in modern India? Has it become so truly impossible to be transparent and incorruptible, that a bureaucrat or politician who tries to do things the way they merely should be automatically becomes a “mahatma”? It is a matter of great fear when a word which can have such great power & such totemic significance is used in a manner which signifies the impractical, the obtuse and even the self-conscious.

At least Rajdeep & few others of the Fourth Estate still seems to have their heart in the right place, holding their leaky wall against the stench & the pitch black outside, while the other Three lie crumbling; overwhelmed.

“In a sense, the rise of Mayawati only exposes the utter bankruptcy of the political system, a system increasingly devoid of morality or ideology. A DMK can happily co-habit with a BJP-led government for 6 years, and yet claim to be the representative of anti-Brahmin “secular” ideals. A Sharad Pawar can tie up with the Shiv Sena in the Pune mayoral elections but still claim to be part of the ‘secular’ umbrella at the center. An “honest” prime minister in Dr Manmohan Singh can watch helplessly as Shibhu Soren treats the union cabinet as a revolving door, and yet do little to impose his way. A Laloo Yadav in the name of social justice can virtually get away with the taint of the fodder scam. The BJP can release a CD with the most profane communal propaganda, and then, when caught out, can claim that there is nothing “official” about it. When the political waters in the Gangetic heartland in particular have been polluted by all, can all blame be laid at Mayawati’s door?”

Rajdeep Sardesai, Chief Editor, CNN-IBN (April 27th 2007)

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