Yesterday I heard a few extracts of the speech delivered by Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat. He compared Narendra Modi to Adolf Hitler. Rahul Gandhi may have been a young child in 1975 when his grandmother Smt. Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister decided to proclaim the internal emergency. Surely, he is not unaware of what happened during those nineteen months of the Emergency. I was a college student at that time. As a Students Union Leader and an Activist in JP’s movement I spent the next nineteen months in prison. I came across a document being circulated as a part of the underground literature which was titled “A Tale of Two Emergencies”. I was later told that it had been authored by Shri L.K. Advani. This document is even now available as an annexure to Advani ji’s prison memoirs titled “A Prisoner’s Scrap Book”. The document was based on the authentic work of history of Nazi Germany by William Shirer. Shirer’s book was titled “The Rise and Fall of Third Reich” I obtained a copy of the book in prison and spent a few weeks reading it. After reading the book I had no doubt that the only Indian politician in post independence India who drew inspiration from Adolf Hitler was Smt. Indira Gandhi. The comparison between Hitler and her was startling.
Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Within a month he invoked the emergency powers for ‘the protection of the people and the state’. He restricted personal liberty, free speech, fundamental rights and imposed various restrictions on the right to privacy. The ostensible reason for proclamation of emergency was a Communist conspiracy to burn down governmental buildings. The pretext was that a day before the proclamation of emergency there was a fire at the Reich Stag. Much later the Nuremberg trials established that the fire had been engineered to provide a false pretext. Indira ji also proclaimed the Emergency in India on 26th June 1975. She claimed that JP was leading an agitation where Armed Forces were being asked to defy illegal orders. She therefore suspended all fundamental rights including the right to life and liberty. She imposed censorship on the Press, compromised judicial independence. Her Attorney General pleaded before the Supreme Court that in the absence of the right to life and liberty a detenu could be killed in prison and he had no recourse. A pliable Supreme Court accepted this argument.
Indira ji announced a Twenty Point Economic programme and insisted the Emergency was intended for discipline and growth. Hitler had also announced a 25-Point Economic Programme which was to be implemented during the emergency.
Hitler did not command a two-third majority in the German parliament. He therefore detained 91 Opposition MPs in order to reduce the voting strength of the House and amended the constitution giving to him absolute power. Indira ji detained a large number of opposition MPs and brought about draconian 42nd Amendment to the Constitution which had to be substantially repealed after the Emergency. She went a step further and even prohibited the publication of Parliamentary proceedings. The law which provided immunity to the media from publishing parliamentary proceedings was repealed. Curiously, this law had been proposed by Rahul Gandhi’s grandfather, the Late Shri Feroze Gandhi.
The tenor of the statement by supporters of the two emergency regimes was similar. Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister declared – “The German Revolution has begun.” In India it was claimed that the country was passing through “something of a revolution”. The media could not publish any news item without subjecting it to prior censorship. The White Paper on Misuse of media during the Emergency gives illustrations of the kind of censorship which came into existence. Gandhi family newspaper ‘The National Herald’ advocated that a one-party set up was desirable, It should not be forced but allowed to emerge by a natural evolution. All Opposition activists in the country were detained. They were whisked away in the midst of darkness. The Police was asked to register fabricated FIRs under the Defence of India Rules against Opposition activists. Lakhs of false FIRs were registered. Thousands of persons were detained under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act. The law was amended to mandate that no grounds of detention were necessary to be provided. Additionally, the judgment of the Supreme Court in Habeas corpus case reaffirmed that these malafide orders of detention were non-justiciable.
The Constitution was amended by the 39th Amendment making even electoral offenses committed by the Prime Minister as non-justifiable. The inspiration for this came from the Nazis wherein Nazi leader Joachim von Ribbentrop who later became Hitler’s External affairs Minister advocated a new legal system since “Adolf Hitler too like any other common mortal can be tried under the same paragraph of the penal law” The Congress President Dev kant Barua declared “Indira is India and India is Indira”. Hitler’s Commissioner of Justice Dr. Hans Frank had declared that “There is in Germany today only one authority and that is the authority of Fuehrer”. Hitler created a secret police called the Gestapo whose orders like the MISA orders were not subject to judicial review.
Suspension of democracy, abrogation of civil liberties, detention of political opponents, suspension of democratic activity, abandonment of free Press, absence of judicial independence and vestige of power in one person were features of Hitler’s regime. Each step had inspired Indira ji’s internal Emergency. There was one basic difference between the two. Hitler did not promote a dynasty because he did not have any one to promote.
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”
“If I had no sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide.”
Mahatma Gandhi needs no long introduction. Everyone knows about the man who lead the Indian people to independence from British rule in 1947.
So let’s just move on to some of my favorite tips from Mahatma Gandhi.
1. Change yourself.
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”
“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”
If you change yourself you will change your world. If you change how you think then you will change how you feel and what actions you take. And so the world around you will change. Not only because you are now viewing your environment through new lenses of thoughts and emotions but also because the change within can allow you to take action in ways you wouldn’t have – or maybe even have thought about – while stuck in your old thought patterns.
And the problem with changing your outer world without changing yourself is that you will still be you when you reach that change you have strived for. You will still have your flaws, anger, negativity, self-sabotaging tendencies etc. intact.
And so in this new situation you will still not find what you hoped for since your mind is still seeping with that negative stuff. And if you get more without having some insight into and distance from your ego it may grow more powerful. Since your ego loves to divide things, to find enemies and to create separation it may start to try to create even more problems and conflicts in your life and world.
And as you realize that no-one outside of yourself can actually control how you feel you can start to incorporate this thinking into your daily life and develop it as a thought habit. A habit that you can grow stronger and stronger over time. Doing this makes life a whole lot easier and more pleasurable.
3. Forgive and let it go.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
“An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
Fighting evil with evil won’t help anyone. And as said in the previous tip, you always choose how to react to something. When you can incorporate such a thought habit more and more into your life then you can react in a way that is more useful to you and others.
You realize that forgiving and letting go of the past will do you and the people in your world a great service. And spending your time in some negative memory won’t help you after you have learned the lessons you can learn from that experience. You’ll probably just cause yourself more suffering and paralyze yourself from taking action in this present moment.
If you don’t forgive then you let the past and another person to control how you feel. By forgiving you release yourself from those bonds. And then you can focus totally on, for instance, the next point.
4. Without action you aren’t going anywhere.
“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
Without taking action very little will be done. However, taking action can be hard and difficult. There can be much inner resistance.
And so you may resort to preaching, as Gandhi says. Or reading and studying endlessly. And feeling like you are moving forward. But getting little or no practical results in real life.
So, to really get where you want to go and to really understand yourself and your world you need to practice. Books can mostly just bring you knowledge. You have to take action and translate that knowledge into results and understanding.
5. Take care of this moment.
“I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”
The best way that I have found to overcome the inner resistance that often stops us from taking action is to stay in the present as much as possible and to be accepting.
Why? Well, when you are in the present moment you don’t worry about the next moment that you can’t control anyway. And the resistance to action that comes from you imagining negative future consequences – or reflecting on past failures – of your actions loses its power. And so it becomes easier to both take action and to keep your focus on this moment and perform better.
6. Everyone is human.
“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my
errors and to retrace my steps.”
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
When you start to make myths out of people – even though they may have produced extraordinary results – you run the risk of becoming disconnected from them. You can start to feel like you could never achieve similar things that they did because they are so very different. So it’s important to keep in mind that everyone is just a human being no matter who they are.
And I think it’s important to remember that we are all human and prone to make mistakes. Holding people to unreasonable standards will only create more unnecessary conflicts in your world and negativity within you.
It’s also important to remember this to avoid falling into the pretty useless habit of beating yourself up over mistakes that you have made. And instead be able to see with clarity where you went wrong and what you can learn from your mistake. And then try again.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Be persistent. In time the opposition around you will fade and fall away. And your inner resistance and self-sabotaging tendencies that want to hold you back and keep you like you have always been will grow weaker.
One reason Gandhi was so successful with his method of non-violence was because he and his followers were so persistent. They just didn’t give up.
Success or victory will seldom come as quickly as you would have liked it to. I think one of the reasons people don’t get what they want is simply because they give up too soon. The time they think an achievement will require isn’t the same amount of time it usually takes to achieve that goal. This faulty belief partly comes from the world we live in. A world full of magic pill solutions where advertising continually promises us that we can lose a lot of weight or earn a ton of money in just 30 days.
8. See the good in people and help them.
“I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.”
“Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.”
“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”
There is pretty much always something good in people. And things that may not be so good. But you can choose what things to focus on. And if you want improvement then focusing on the good in people is a useful choice. It also makes life easier for you as your world and relationships become more pleasant and positive.
And when you see the good in people it becomes easier to motivate yourself to be of service to them. By being of service to other people, by giving them value you not only make their lives better. Over time you tend to get what you give. And the people you help may feel more inclined to help other people. And so you, together, create an upward spiral of positive change that grows and becomes stronger.
By strengthening your social skills you can become a more influential person and make this upward spiral even stronger.
9. Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”
I think that one of the best tips for improving your social skills is to behave in a congruent manner and communicate in an authentic way. People seem to really like authentic communication. And there is much inner enjoyment to be found when your thoughts, words and actions are aligned. You feel powerful and good about yourself.
When words and thoughts are aligned then that shows through in your communication. Because now you have your voice tonality and body language – some say they are over 90 percent of communication – in alignment with your words.
With these channels in alignment people tend to really listen to what you’re saying. You are communicating without incongruency, mixed messages or perhaps a sort of phoniness.
Also, if your actions aren’t in alignment with what you’re communicating then you start to hurt your own belief in what you can do. And other people’s belief in you too.
10. Continue to grow and evolve.
“Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”
You can pretty much always improve your skills, habits or re-evaluate your evaluations. You can gain deeper understanding of yourself and the world.
Sure, you may look inconsistent or like you don’t know what you are doing from time to time. You may have trouble to act congruently or to communicate authentically. But if you don’t then you will, as Gandhi says, drive yourself into a false position. A place where you try to uphold or cling to your old views to appear consistent while you realise within that something is wrong. It’s not a fun place to be.
Sean Paul Kelley is a travel writer, former radio host, and before that an asset manager for a Wall Street investment bank that is still (barely) alive. He recently left a fantastic job in Singapore working for Solar Winds, a software company based out of Austin to travel around the world for a year (or two). He founded The Agonist, in 2002, which is still considered the top international affairs, culture and news destination for progressives. He is also the Global Correspondent for The Young Turks, on satellite radio and Air America .
If you are Indian, or of Indian descent, I must preface this post with a clear warning: you are not going to like what I have to say. My criticisms may be very hard to stomach. But consider them as the hard words and loving advice of a good friend. Someone who’s being honest with you and wants nothing from you.
These criticisms apply to all of India except Kerala and the places I didn’t visit, except that I have a feeling it applies to all of India , except as I mentioned before, Kerala.
Lastly, before anyone accuses me of Western Cultural Imperialism, let me say this: if this is what India and Indians want, then hey, who am I to tell them differently. Take what you like and leave the rest. In the end it doesn’t really matter, as I get the sense that Indians, at least many upper class Indians, don’t seem to care and the lower classes just don’t know any better, what with Indian culture being so intense and pervasive on the sub-continent. But here goes, nonetheless.
First, pollution. In my opinion the filth, squalor and all around pollution indicates a marked lack of respect for India by Indians. I don’t know how cultural the filth is, but it’s really beyond anything I have ever encountered. At times the smells, trash, refuse and excrement are like a garbage dump.
India is a mess. It’s that simple, but it’s also quite complicated. I’ll start with what I think are India ’s four major problems–the four most preventing India from becoming a developing nation–and then move to some of the ancillary ones.
Right next door to the Taj Mahal was a pile of trash that smelled so bad, was so foul as to almost ruin the entire Taj experience. Delhi , Bangalore and Chennai to a lesser degree were so very polluted as to make me physically ill. Sinus infections, ear infection, bowels churning was an all to common experience in India . Dung, be it goat, cow or human fecal matter was common on the streets. In major tourist areas filth was everywhere, littering the sidewalks, the roadways, you name it. Toilets in the middle of the road, men urinating and defecating anywhere, in broad daylight.
Whole villages are plastic bag wastelands. Roadsides are choked by it. Air quality that can hardly be called quality. Far too much coal and far to few unleaded vehicles on the road. The measure should be how dangerous the air is for one’s health, not how good it is. People casually throw trash in the streets, on the roads.
The only two cities that could be considered sanitary in my journey were Trivandrum –the capital of Kerala–and Calicut . I don’t know why this is. But I can assure you that at some point this pollution will cut into India ’s productivity, if it already hasn’t. The pollution will hobble India ’s growth path, if that indeed is what the country wants. (Which I personally doubt, as India is far too conservative a country, in the small ‘c’ sense.)
The second issue , infrastructure, can be divided into four subcategories: roads, rails and ports and the electrical grid. The electrical grid is a joke. Load shedding is all too common, everywhere in India . Wide swaths of the country spend much of the day without the electricity they actually pay for. With out regular electricity, productivity, again, falls.
The ports are a joke. Antiquated, out of date, hardly even appropriate for the mechanized world of container ports, more in line with the days of longshoremen and the like. Roads are an equal disaster. I only saw one elevated highway that would be considered decent in Thailand , much less Western Europe or America . And I covered fully two thirds of the country during my visit.
There are so few dual carriage way roads as to be laughable. There are no traffic laws to speak of, and if there are, they are rarely obeyed, much less enforced. A drive that should take an hour takes three. A drive that should take three takes nine. The buses are at least thirty years old, if not older.
Everyone in India , or who travels in India raves about the railway system. Rubbish. It’s awful. Now, when I was there in 2003 and then late 2004 it was decent. But in the last five years the traffic on the rails has grown so quickly that once again, it is threatening productivity. Waiting in line just to ask a question now takes thirty minutes. Routes are routinely sold out three and four days in advance now, leaving travelers stranded with little option except to take the decrepit and dangerous buses.At least fifty million people use the trains a day in India . 50 million people! Not surprising that waitlists of 500 or more people are common now.
The rails are affordable and comprehensive but they are overcrowded and what with budget airlines popping up in India like Sadhus in an ashram the middle and lowers classes are left to deal with the overutilized rails and quality suffers. No one seems to give a shit.
Seriously, I just never have the impression that the Indian government really cares. Too interested in buying weapons from Russia , Israel and the US I guess.
The last major problem in India is an old problem and can be divided into two parts that’ve been two sides of the same coin since government was invented: bureaucracy and corruption.
It take triplicates to register into a hotel. To get a SIM card for one’s phone is like wading into a jungle of red-tape and photocopies one is not likely to emerge from in a good mood, much less satisfied with customer service.
Getting train tickets is a terrible ordeal, first you have to find the train number, which takes 30 minutes, then you have to fill in the form, which is far from easy, then you have to wait in line to try and make a reservation, which takes 30 minutes at least and if you made a single mistake on the form back you go to the end of the queue, or what passes for a queue in India.
The government is notoriously uninterested in the problems of the commoners, too busy fleecing the rich, or trying to get rich themselves in some way shape or form. Take the trash for example, civil rubbish collection authorities are too busy taking kickbacks from the wealthy to keep their areas clean that they don’t have the time, manpower, money or interest in doing their job.
Rural hospitals are perennially understaffed as doctors pocket the fees the government pays them, never show up at the rural hospitals and practice in the cities instead.
I could go on for quite some time about my perception of India and its problems, but in all seriousness, I don’t think anyone in India really cares. And that, to me, is the biggest problem. India is too conservative a society to want to change in any way.
Mumbai, India ’s financial capital is about as filthy, polluted and poor as the worst city imaginable in Vietnam , or Indonesia –and being more polluted than Medan , in Sumatra is no easy task. The biggest rats I have ever seen were in Medan !
One would expect a certain amount of, yes, I am going to use this word, backwardness, in a country that hasn’t produced so many Nobel Laureates, nuclear physicists, eminent economists and entrepreneurs. But India has all these things and what have they brought back to India with them? Nothing.
The rich still have their servants, the lower castes are still there to do the dirty work and so the country remains in stasis. It’s a shame. Indians and India have many wonderful things to offer the world, but I’m far from sanguine that India will amount to much in my lifetime.
Now, have at it, call me a cultural imperialist, a spoiled child of the West and all that. But remember, I’ve been there. I’ve done it. And I’ve seen 50 other countries on this planet and none, not even Ethiopia , have as long and gargantuan a laundry list of problems as India does.
And the bottom line is, I don’t think India really cares. Too complacent and too conservative.