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Who Calls the Shots?

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By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer

Why have we got so thin skinned? Why do we come out all guns blazing when the BBC makes a comment about us? Unlike our AIR and Doordarshan, the BBC is not a sarkari mouthpiece. And even if the official mouthpiece of another nation expresses an opinion which is contrary to our official view, why on earth do we bristle with righteous indignation? Regardless of what some netas would like to spout, we are not the Vishwa Guru, the Universal Teacher. So let’s stop raising an avuncular forefinger whenever a senior neta pontificates his or her opinion. Ever since smartphones bridged time and political boundaries, unipolar politics and its followers have had diminishing relevance in a digitally webbed world.

And the misdeeds of such dictators have been revealed as national disasters. China is a prime example, though Trumpism is not far behind.

China’s late Chairman Mao once decided that sparrows were decimating his nation’s crops. He ordered the slaughter of these little feathered creatures. In their absence, however, insects thrived threatening a national famine. There was a quick reversal of policies. Then came the Red Republic’s One Child Order, followed by their No Covid Diktat. Both had to be reversed. The lesson of these tales is simple. No Single Person knows everything and the bigger the nation and the more populous, the less he or she knows. This is why it is always wise to listen to many divergent opinions and not be like leeches wriggling in agony at the slightest touch of salt!

Then there is the Brainless, Hyper-machismo response. Of course, the Mill of Justice grinds slowly but that is no argument for bypassing it by high-handed Bulldozer Tactics. The Indian Penal Code is a superbly worded legislation. One of the challenges in Law School is to try and reword the definition of Murder as given in English. The problem comes when any of these laws are translated into other Indian languages.  Seeing the often-repeated charge of Abetment we suspect its translation. Abetment is to help in the committing of a crime, and not to be the person who actually committed the crime.

Such clear errors in the working system of law do have a final judge: the Supreme Court. In the USA, the judges to the top court are appointed for life so they have no need to bias their judgements to ensure post retirement benefits. This is excellent. In Israel, today, there is a fierce controversy raging about the government’s attempts to water down the powers of their Supreme Court. In our Land, too, there are controversies about apparent reinterpretation by the Administration to weaken the Separation of Powers between the Legislators who make the Laws, the Administrators who enforce the Laws and the Judiciary who interpret the laws according to the Constitution of India. This is a healthy, ongoing interaction which is proof of a vibrant democracy. Donald Trump’s apparent orchestration of his followers in the storming of Capitol Hill was the very opposite of the Storming of the Bastille which led to the French Revolution. Our plotters’ failed attempt to replicate this with the Storming of the Red Fort was as riddled with holes as a ball of ripe blue Cheese. Collusion was written all over it.

So, who really calls the shots in India? After the uncertainties of the Emergency, Assassinations and the Mortgage of our gold, the stability of the Gujarat Model was welcomed as proof of administrative sanity. But the direct government system, of a state populated by the descendants of the Indus Valley technocrats, cannot be replicated in a nation with deep traditions of cultural and racial diversities. An attempt to unify by conjuring up a common enemy fails because of a grassroots acceptance of diversity inherent in the caste system.

This is where we stand today. The leadership of the G20 group is a great opportunity and a challenge. Can we shed our shibboleths and convert every challenge into an opportunity? Possibly… The answer to that is being hammered out in the forge of resistance, response and writ. The shots are being called by the polyglot, multifaith, racially diverse PEOPLE OF INDIA.

(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour 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 was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)