Saturday, October 7, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Gandhiji’s views on electoral system

ON October 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi was celebrated. Floral tributes were paid and prayer meetings held. This ritual is done on this day every year but what the Mahatma wanted to be done is immediately and comfortably forgotten after paying lip tributes to the great man.

It is really regrettable that though Jawaharlal Nehru is said to be the political heir of the Mahatma, he brought into being a Constitution much against what Gandhiji wished. He did not care to materialise the dreams of the Mahatma after the attainment of Independence.

Gandhiji felt that a candidate for election should only be motivated by the love of social service and should not derive any benefit out of the elected office. Today, when a party comes to power, every member is provided with a highly lucrative office.

Mahatma proposed that only those between 18 and 50 should have voting rights. Senior citizens should have no voice in the running of the country. He believed in four ashrams, each with a span of 25 years.

As regards the mode of elections, he was in favour of indirect elections to the state legislatures and national Parliament instead of the mass adult franchise as is now obtaining in India. In his ideal India, the villages would elect their representatives and these representatives would form the electoral college, choosing members of legislatures and federal Parliament. To him this method would make it possible to reduce the election expense. It will further ensure that all the voters would know the moral status of their representatives. Thus, there would be complete decentralisation of political power to its ultimate unit.


Fifty two years have gone by since the adoption of the present Constitution. Today the Indian society is divided in term of community, caste, class and colour. Gandhiji envisaged a casteless India, but instead we have a system dominated by caste and class, fostered by the present-day politicians, who are interested only in vote-bank politics.

Fifty two years are a long period of time even in the life of a nation. Today we find that vast majority of Indian population lives in slums, has no pure drinking water to quench its thirst and no health care facilities. People in India want qualitative governance and faster development. In order to make India a responsive and effective state, she has to come out from red tapism and fossilised mindset. The need of the hour is to come out of the old rut, act and work on bold lines so that India becomes a super power in the true sense of the word.


Strategic rail link

Recently there was some news that a rail link will be constructed to link Chandigarh with Anandpur Sahib via Morinda as part of the tercentenary celebrations of the Birth of Khalsa. The project seems to have been cleared but the work has not started.

At present, there are only two rail bridges on the Sutlej; one near Lohian Khas and the other on the main trunk line at Phillaur. Lohian Khas is too near the border to provide any alternative route to Pathankot. Therefore, there is only one rail bridge on the Sutlej at Phillaur providing access to Amritsar and Pathankot. Therefore, another rail bridge at a safe distance from the border is a must for strategic reasons. There is another rail bridge at Nangal connecting Nangal with Una. Una needs to be connected to Hoshiarpur and Tanda which is on the main rail line to Pathankot.

Such a link will serve the following purposes:

(a) Bring Chandigarh on the main rail route from Pathankot to the rest of India. Some trains emanating from Pathankot could run through Chandigarh on this line.

(b) Open up the Kandi area.

(c) Provide a strategic alternative rail route to J&K and Himachal Pradesh. It will help in quick mobilisation during any emergency.

(d) This rail link will be much safer being in depth.

(e) Open the area of Bhakra and Talwara to tourism.

(f) Reduce traffic pressure on the main Amritsar-Ludhiana-Ambala line.

Brig K. S. KANG (retd)

No editorial

I was eagerly waiting for front-page editorial from your pen on the conviction of Mr Rao and Mr Buta Singh.

But alas! I had only disappointment in store for me.



Forgotten pathfinder

Jayaprakash Narayan (affectionately called JP) was too big for any political office. A man who could have become India’s second Prime Minister became the second redeemer of the nation, liberating the country from the stranglehold of the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in a neurotic bid to keep herself in power.

JP saw life in all its shades. Marxism, Gandhian ideals and Fabian socialism interested him as he grew up in a country in British bondage. Ram Vriksha Benipuri, the irrepressible romanticist, called him the people’s pathfinder. People called him Loknayak. What a correct prophecy about a great man! JP completed his life cycle from October to October from 1902 to 1979, making history. People called him a second Gandhi — some even called him a super Gandhi.

JP had no likes and dislikes. He stopped the Janata government to proceed ahead when a question of enquiry on the treatment meted out to him during his solitary confinement in the PGI arose. He virtually apologised to Sardar Patel in his writings in a journal. Write JP: “We socialists thought Nehru was a socialist which he never was. We thought Sardar Patel was a reactionary which he never was.”

JP called upon the chosen representatives of the people “To purify even the Gangotri of corruption.” When they failed him, he — a broken man bleeding on the thorns of life lived in a faith — recalled the efforts at Bhoodan, Jeevandan, Sarvodaya, Antodaya, the national evolution and the Total Revolution. JP appears to have been forgotten. No one ever remembers him even ritualistically on his birthday on October 11.

A new wave of turbulence is again in the political air — and this time with a greater velocity, with a greater ferocity. Will anyone swearing to oppose, rise and rule, remember these lines, the contents of which sustained JP in his despondent hours?

All Nature is taught in radiant ways to move.

All beings are in myself embraced.

A fiery boundless heart of joy and love

How art thou beating in a mortal heart?


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