Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Do political exercises connect with a moral evaluation?

The former Governor of West Bengal Mr. Gopalkrishna Gandhi has an interesting piece in which he eloquently expresses his views on “respect” and “belief. What struck me more in his speech is that, this line “political exercise that may or may not be connected with a moral evaluation”. Because “moral evaluation” is not just a cup of tea you may think? It has different connotations in ethics of once behaviour in both public and private life. Moreover, it is the “moral evaluation” which gets long life in the history of mankind. In fact even once own life time to remember their conduct of day today life.

Few excerpts:

  • Respect is either there or not there. You cannot have gradations of it, like Respect Vibhushan, Respect Bhushan, Respect Shri. Respect is Respect.

  • Respect does not come from reasoning. Respect comes instinctively from the thought. “Here is one I respect.”

  • Many holders of high office are elected to them. The process of election is now used skilfully by the electorate as a political exercise that may or may not be connected with a moral evaluation.

  • Several enter the fray because they command resources, not because they command respect. They command loyalty, they command obedience, they command admiration, they command fear. And because after commanding all these, they still want to command respect, they get their followers to try to commandeer it. But people, simple people, are able to perceive the intrinsic quiddity or thingness of a person almost by instinct, just as they are able to tell a good potato from one that has gone fungoid.

  • C. Rajagopalachari never contested or won an election in independent India, but public respect for him was strong, whether he was in office or out of it (which was most of the time). The same was true of his exact contemporary, ‘Periyar' E.V. Ramaswamy, whose ‘office' was none other than affectionate esteem. Stalwarts of our freedom struggle such as Nehru, Patel, Rajendra Prasad and Azad, and towering personalities like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Babasaheb Ambedkar apart, post-Independence Chief Ministers such as Gopinath Bordoloi of Assam, Nabakrushna Chaudhuri of Orissa, T. Prakasam, K. Kamaraj, E.M.S. Namboodiripad, Gobind Ballabh Pant, C.N. Annadurai, and Jyoti Basu are among those whose incumbencies in elective office had little to do with the intrinsic respect they commanded across political divides and across the country. It is immaterial that Jayaprakash Narayan did not hold elective office. He held a respect which the spontaneous title — Loknayak — symbolised.

  • Nothing in creation is flawless, except perhaps forgiveness by the person entitled to forgive. (Forgiveness is different, we should note, from pardon). But the judiciary's mandate is not to distribute forgiveness, it is about determining culpability and where required, convicting and sentencing the culpable.
  • Nothing in creation is infallible, not even forgiveness. In the dispensing of justice in accordance with a differentiated code of defining and evaluating liability, this institution too can err.
  • Nothing in creation is constant or uniform, either. So the judiciary and constitutional bodies and commissions are a terraced palate, where fallibility is a fact as is dis-uniformity.

Very rightly:

  • Respect is often linked to admiration for skill. There is respect for a great musician, a dancer or sculptor, an actor or a sportsman because that person has honed a great skill to near-perfection. There is one unfortunate accompaniment to skill-based stature, however, that can rob it of its appeal. And that is the price tag that goes with high-calibre skill. Be it in sports — cricket in particular — or in music, or in the visual arts, the interplay of money with standards threatens respect for those persons endowed with skills and, in fact, with the place of skills in society.

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