We, the Government
By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer
The Lockdown has allowed us to catch up on our reading. We wish our netas had also found out why We, the Government, had elected them. Hopefully, this nugget of social history will help them understand their Constitutional Rights and Duties; also the dangers of bypassing their voters!
Our Constitution was crafted by three Indian barristers of the Inns of Court, London: Nehru, Patel and Ambedkar. The Inns were roughly like our dhabas. Some were popular with lawyers who, after work, unwound with their professional friends and juniors, drank, dined and discussed their cases. Though this free-wheeling training of young lawyers became more formal, later, the ability to discuss and debate still remains the essence of the legal training in the Inns of Court.
Since there can be no debate unless there is more than one opinion, our Constitutional writers built the need to Dissent, Debate, and only then Decide, into the Defining Ds of our Democracy.
These, however, were set aside when grave threats faced the nation. Winston Churchill was the dictator of the British Empire during the dark days of the Second World War. When he tried to hang on to power in peacetime, he was rejected. The mild-mannered Clement Attlee took over. This social acceptance and then rejection has happened throughout history. Hitler, Mussolini. Sadam Hussein and Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania clung to power long after they had become redundant. All of them tried to build great monuments to preserve their transient images. All came to a sticky end.
They also had another thing in common. They started as extremely well-meaning and very effective leaders. Then they allowed their sycophants to inflate their egos while fattening in their shadows. Hitler’s downfall was largely due to the parallel centre of power built by Himmler with his vicious political police: the Staffen SS. It created Extermination Camps for Jews, Gypsies and other “Undesirables”. While Hitler was the magnetic orator, Himmler was the scheming Nazi ideologue. He also thought of himself as an alternative to Hitler and tried to negotiate a separate treaty with the Allies!
Donald Trump has taken care of such possible palace revolts by keeping his Cabinet in a state of permanent insecurity. “People’s Leader”, Xi Jinping has, very adroitly, appointed the hawkish 57-year old Lt Gen Xu Qiliang to oversee China’s expansionism in Ladakh. The PLA will have its hands too full in this freezing Himalayan border to think of causing a regime-changing tsunami in Beijing!
But, then, tsunamis can never be predicted. They start with unnoticed civic stresses creating a great earthquake in the unnoticed depths of society. On the surface this appears as a little ripple, but when this powerful shock wave approaches the seemingly entrenched establishments, it seems to hesitate. Relieved spectators breathe a sigh of relief. This is premature. For then the full fury of the tsunami rises like the great, blue, hood of a monstrous serpent, fanged with the white teeth of its hissing surf. It strikes with the thunderous power of frustrated fury leaving death and destruction in its wake.
The French, Russian and Chinese Revolutions were triggered by the hatred of common people exploding against the arrogance of their self-obsessed rulers.
Such a civic tsunami might again rock the world, soon. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already said that, if candidate Trump is defeated in the next election, and refuses to vacate the White House, he will be fumigated out! That tidal wave could rock the whole world.
So, after all that time-travel through world history, we return home to our own little Uttarakhand. If any well-meaning, but ill-informed neta tries to spend money extracted from tax-payers without consulting them, we must tell him, or her, what we have sensed. We have felt a growing wave of disenchantment against those who take their voters’ silence for granted. There is a fast growing ground-wave of disgust with the top-down approach to politics, the High Command or “Big Brother Knows All” arrogance of ill-informed netas. If you want to spend Our Money for what you consider is Our Good, Consult Us.
Remember: when you see that ripple speeding across the surface of the globe, it is too late to stop the tsunami.
(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 half-hour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34
other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who is a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)