Once again, Independence Day was celebrated. On every Independence Day, in the same manner as this year, various newspapers and magazines start giving articles on Independence. What does Independence mean? All political people and other people in authority, whether they are corporate leaders or people in public life or civil society, they must take a step back and think whether we have followed the Constitution as it was meant to be or over the years, from 1952 to now, we have slowly distorted every part of the Constitution in such a manner that while we are following it on paper, in reality it is quite different. For instance, the Constitution gives a certain method of how a Government is elected and what the Government is supposed to do.
The Government’s role or business are very clear : that any Government which is elected should lay down the policy. Economic, political, social — what is its policy? But the implementation has to be done by the Civil Services. There are IAS officers and other services who have come up the hard way. They have appeared for competitive exams and only the most intelligent people are there. So you have a very competent group of people to implement your policy but are we using them correctly? No. Unfortunately, slowly, the parties that are now getting elected, they are interested in small things not in big things.
No party wants to change the basic anomalies that are taking place in the country. For instance, when Partition took place, unfortunately Mr. Jinnah did it on the basis of religion. Pakistan was made for the Muslims of India. But even on the day that the Partition took place it was clear that there will be more Muslims staying back in India than there would be in Pakistan. Still they did it. What does it show? And why did the Indians who stayed back here, why did they stay back? Because Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad gave an assurance that Pakistan may be an Islamic country, but India will remain a secular country. Religion will not be a factor when the Government will deal with the people. Religion is a personal matter: it only means that you are calling god by a different name — whether you call him Bhagwan or Allah or Ishwar or Jesus Christ or Wahe Guru it doesn’t matter. Have we followed that spirit?
Today unfortunately, I am seeing that if I were a Muslim, which I am not, if I were a Muslim staying in India I would feel let down because I feel the promises made by these great leaders have not been fulfilled by successive Governments. While it is true that we all try to vote to safeguard ourselves, everybody started using us as a voting block or a vote bank as they call it. If Muslims are 15 per cent of the population, what is their share? In the IAS, 2 per cent; in the IPS, 2 per cent; among corporates, hardly 1 or 2 per cent. What have they got? They have not been treated equally. They are not being given equal opportunities. Education has eluded them. Most of the Muslims are illiterate, uneducated. This is the unfortunate state of affairs.
And to add insult to injury we have had a leading Opposition party which always said we are appeasing them, we are giving them too many grants. This is not the reality. The reality is that India is a secular country, a socialist country, a democratic country. And it is high time that this new Government starts following the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution which are very clearly demarcated. We must work towards that — whichever Government is in power in Delhi doesn’t matter. But you must follow the Constitution, you must try to do something for the poor, you must try to do something for the people who are students, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women, minorities. Instead of doing that everybody is going the American way or the corporate way. Poverty figures are coming which are making people like me hang their head in shame. I have never seen poverty. But I cannot understand how you start saying that somebody can fill his stomach in five rupees in a day or twelve rupees in a day. It is shameful. The figure is not important; the important thing is we must do something for the poor and we must be seen doing it. Of course, the Congress party started schemes like MGNREGS and then Food Security. These are not very well structured or very well calculated steps. Too much money is being spent on these schemes. Of course, these are steps in the right direction but there is too much leakage of money in MGNREGS and the Food Security Bill will have such a strong financial requirement that it will not be easy to implement it. It is high time a viable policy is made on how we can uplift the lowest or poorest of the poor into a middle class. The rich are become richer — that is no problem. The country’s GDP also registered a good growth. But the poor have remained where they are. Yes, the middle classes have done well — you have got some glittering things like motor cars, roads, malls, foreign brands etc., but it doesn’t help the man who doesn’t have land. The landless labourer is still a landless labourer, a poor man in a village is still a poor man he can only see the things mentioned above on TV and feel worse. It is high time to start implementing the Constitution.