Saturday, March 31, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Unclean hands of politicians

Both the NDA and the Congress have decided to go to the people. The Congress and its allies will try to establish that the people in the NDA do not have clean hands, and the BJP will try to maintain that there have been scams, scandals, and muddles in the past and in most of these cases people from the Congress were involved.

Our Constitution makes the people the real masters of the country. Therefore, they should have the right to supervise the working of public servants and the public exchequer. But they have not been allowed this role and results are before us. But of late they have started asserting the power of the vote and have rooted out one-party rule. The political parties have been compelled to form groups and more change is expected in the next general election. The politics of spending money to gain power and then utilising the power to earn money has damaged our reputation and our problems have remained unsolved. Most of the problems have become complex and now the people in power have started saying that they are unable to solve them. The people will have to find an alternative and the Congress and the NDA will not be in a position to convince the people because, both do not have clean hands.


Tainted leaders

Political parties often resort to dubious means to collect funds for their rallies and elections. It is generally suggested that to make such fund collection more legitimate and transparent, donations to political parties should be allowed some tax rebate and there should be a thorough audit of every party’s accounts before it is allowed to contest an election.


But the problem lies more with a corruption-friendly, complacent and even permissive make-up of our minds. For us corruption has become an accepted way of life. How else do we explain the persistent public following and the impressive political clout of men and women who have been in and out of jail on charges of corruption?

It is a pity that people get agitated when a case of political corruption is exposed, but soon the dust settles and in elections they support and elect those very tainted leaders. It will be wrong to hope that people exposed by the Tehelka tapes, will not contest elections, or the electorate will not return them to legislatures.

More important than any new law is a change in our attitude and approach to corruption, by making a firm determination not to vote for any corrupt person or a person with a criminal past.


Ominous events

The country was talking about the Tehelka tapes. But two events were almost ignored by the media, the people and the politicians. These are the Kanpur riots, and the Siwan encounter.

In Kanpur, high-tech weapons (till now used only by the Pakistani terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir) were openly used against the police and officials. Worse, the weapons were stored in mosques and fired from there. In Siwan, the police attempted to bring to justice a criminal politician, but was itself suppressed by other politicians. If Indians do not wake up to the threat of illegal weapons and criminals in politics, the next round of rioting might engulf the entire country.


Kali Das Gupta Raza

The passing away of Kali Das Gupta Raza hours before he was to receive the Padam Shree award from the President has come as a rude shock to his admirers.

His research on Brij Narain Chakbast, Josh Malsiani, and Mirza Ghalib is a colossal work done by a single person.

The late Sabir Datt, commenting on Raza’s literary, poetic and critical acumen, said that Raza was “the only living scholar of Urdu and Persian in the sub-continent who was helping the cause of the Urdu language”. Raza’s personal library was a trove of ‘Ghalibiyat’ and perhaps, the biggest “Ghalib-orchard” in the world.

Raza was not just a lover of books; he was a scholar and a literary giant in his own right. His poetic and literary collections include Shola-e-Khaamosh, Shorish-e-Pinhan, Shakh-e-Gul, Juale, Kuliyat-e-Chakbast, Chakbast aur Baqiyat-e-Chakbast, Maktoobaat-e-Josh Malsiani Ba-nam-e-Raza, Ghalib Daroon-e-khana, Ghalibiyat, Chand Shakhsi aur Ghair-Shakhsi Hawale, Ghalibiyat Chand Unvanat. The Silent Flame and Ode to the East Wind are his two poems in English.

His research on Ghalib is a coherent account of the life and works of the celebrated poet, which seeks to correct certain inaccuracies found in earlier works.


Wrong couplet

The couplet, quoted in the report “Riza rediscovered Ghalib” (March 24) as:

“Kismat ki khubi dekhiye ki tooti kahan kamand,

Jab ke do char hath lab-i-bham reh gaya,

The couplet has been misquoted. It should read as:

Qismat ki khoobi dekhiye

tooti kahaan kamand.

Do chaar haath jab ke lab-e-baam reh gaya.

The couplet intends to emphasise that there is many a slip between the cup and the lip.



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