Thursday, 22 March 2012

Let’s fight corruption, not just bribery

A law may check bribery, but not corruption! To weed out corruption from our psyche, India needs a spiritual churning. That’s why people like Sri Sri should be allowed to lead the fight against corruption.

India’s fight against corruption is getting so polarised that it’s hard to remain a spectator. Civil society activists, politicians, media houses, spiritual gurus… almost everyone has an opinion about it. And, with the elections to crucial states like Uttar Pradesh round the corner, it’s ought to get political. Allegations, counter-allegations, mud-slinging, deception… all has become fair in this war of probity, which seemingly has no opponent.

In such a milieu, it will be utterly foolish to dismiss CNN-IBN’s recent ingenuity of faking a LIVE interview with spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as a professional faux pass. For one, it wasn’t a cub reporter doing a live-in from a small town! It was India’s most ‘decorated’ news anchor ‘Facing the Nation’ from the studios of one of India’s elite news channels. For someone like Sagarika Ghose to make such a blunder on Prime Time national television without intention, she had to be either suffering from a temporary brain failure or drugged! Neither of that happened that night.

So it was a clear case of deliberate manipulation. What prompted CNN-IBN to this? Just for the eyeballs? Hard to believe! For, the deception of this kind would have been too glaring for the eyeballs to not blink!

Was it an attempt to blunt Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s voice against corruption? And if yes, who sponsored the ‘show’? Seemingly, Sri Sri has no enemies! Even CNN-IBN say they did it all with absolutely no mala fide intention. Anyway, it’s hard to harbour mala fide intention against spiritual gurus like Sri Sri!

Intention or no intention, the show was ‘doctored’ to make the viewers believe spiritual gurus should NOT participate in the fight against corruption. But it ended up conveying exactly the opposite! It established corruption in India has crossed the proportion that a strong law or a government alone can weed out. It isn’t no more confined to the Rajas and Kalmadis. The virus has bitten even the charmingly made-up moral judges who sit in TV studios and deliver judgments! I am sure Anna Hazare’s unceasing struggle won’t be enough to ensure these self-appointed guardians of probity are taken to task. The task is vast. Teachers, doctors, bureaucrats…, almost everybody needs to be treated.

Who can shoulder this national call of duty? It’s surely not the political class! Not even Annaji. For, a strong Lok Pal may check bribery, but not corruption! I can vouch that India’s fight is against corruption, not just bribery. To think accepting bribe to under-price 3G spectrum licences is more dangerous than killing the girl-child for a fee or allowing a student to copy and pass an examination will be being too short-sighted.

As is the dictionary definition, any act of dishonest exploitation of power for personal gain would qualify as an act of corruption. By that yardstick, it will be hard to keep out Sagarika’s wily act from the realms of corrupt practices. And it’s not just her! The tribe of people who don’t fill the pinch when they indulge in such practices is growing. In short, moral degradation is rampant in today’s India. We want our politicians to be non-corrupt, but we hardly think twice about paying a bribe to get MBBS admission for our offsprings!

To expect a law alone to do the cleaning-up act of this magnitude will be being very childish. Only an internal churning can shift the national conscience away from corruption in society. That’s why spiritual people like Sri Sri SHOULD participate in the fight against corruption. No one takes bribe from someone with whom he or she has a sense of belongingness. So the best antidote to corruption is to inculcate a sense of belongingness in people. Only a spiritual awakening can bring lasting integrity in society.

And that’s what Sri Sri is doing? Travelling across India and holding satsangs, he has been making people take pledge not to give and take bribe. To dismiss such subtle acts of inner commitment as trivialising the menace of corruption would be to show contempt to the deep-routed culture of this country, which is filled with legends of pious people risking everything else to keep their vows. Even today, people take vows taken in the name of God and religion very seriously. Who than politicians know this better? It’s they who make voters keep their hands on the Gita and Quran and swear when they buy their votes! Yet they suspect its efficacy when spiritual gurus do it for national regeneration. Maybe they have been taught bitter lessons by voters whom they tried to bribe! What they don’t realise is Sri Sri’s mission are much more pious than theirs! Hardly any politician can match his credibility, his track record of being upright! In the sphere he operates, it’s next to impossible to sully his image. No wonder, some politicians are trying their best to drag him to the muddied battlefield of politics despite the guru repeatedly denying any political agenda. Sadly, some of our politicians have become culturally so bankrupt that they can no longer differentiate between a satsang and RSS shakha and for that matter, a political rally! Just because he holds satsangs and get people enchanted with God, Sri Sri is branded an RSS agent!

One thing that makes Sri Sri so acceptable to people is his nature not to get influenced by others. In meditation, he teaches others to learn how to get insulated from people, situations around them. This is one trait he lives even outside the realm of meditation. He doesn’t need to, or will allow RSS or BJP, to influence his thinking. If is he speaking out against corruption, it’s because it’s the need of the hour. It’s not because he is against the Congress or UPA or any other political formation!

It will be too much a realisation to expect from our political class. They have dirtied the ground so much so that it’s impossible for anybody to keep a foot in the political arena without getting tainted! The message seems to be, “If you are good, you have no place in politics.” And that was what it echoed in Guwahati last week. As Bhupen Hazarika’s body touched down in Guwahati, the hub of the North East came to a complete halt to honour the legend. Deserted streets, sobbing mourners, sombre Bakrid festivities…, his love moved one and all. It was hard to agree that this same man had lost parliamentary election from this very city just 7 years ago! Truly, love seems to have no place in politics!

But to end corruption from society, love needs to find its place back in politics. And spiritual people like Sri Sri alone can ensure that! And now, please don’t tell me I am communal! I didn’t say religious people! I didn’t endorse jihadis, I didn’t invoke Hindutva either. I just meant truly spiritual people like Sri Sri.

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