WEEKEND LIGHTER: Tryst with destiny

WEEKEND LIGHTER: Tryst with destiny
(July 30/31, 2016, No. 31/2016)
Weekend Lighter is posted every Saturday @mgwarrier.blogspot.in
Feel free to mail your views on this edition of WL to mgwarrier@gmail.com
Opening Remarks
Political vocabulary*
This refers to the report “Modi can go to any extent, may get me killed: Kejriwal” (Business Standard, July 28). Expression of ‘fear of death’ also can be pardoned by expanding the meaning of ‘freedom of expression’. But, it could turn out to be a different story altogether, when a responsible CM alleges that his country’s PM may get him killed. While several politicians with criminal background have entered legislatures, no such background has been attributed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi yet.
We expected the elegance in communication that civil servants acquire by experience and are shocked to see him mimicking the language used by ground level political ‘leaders’ to get quick applause. In Kerala, where CPI (M)-led LDF is in power is scrutinising a ‘threatening’ speech by a Marxist leader for further follow up. Looks, time is ripe for all political parties to sit together and come to some consensus on the language their leaders would be using to ‘attack’ the opponents. Off the mark wild allegations of the kind Delhi Chief Minister has made need to be avoided in public intercourse.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
*An edited version was published in Business Line on July 29, 2016 as “Minding the language”
RBI in central stage
This refers to AV Rajwade’s piece “Central bank independence” (Business Standard, The Other Side, July 28). Former RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao deserves a special ‘Thank You’ for drawing the attention of media and all stakeholders to the role of Reserve Bank of India in the present Indian context. This is also proof to show that a book, if professionally written and marketed can influence public opinion. I am referring to the media attention Subbarao’s book “Who Moved My Interest Rate?” has drawn in such a short time.
Of course, I have in mind the blacking out of the RBI Annual Report 2014-15 by the media. Dr Raghuram Rajan, in a newly introduced chapter “Governor’s Overview” in that report, had flagged several concerns bothering him. It is not late yet and one need not wait for Dr Rajan’s memoirs to find out what all irritated him or hindered his functioning. He must have been ‘professionally hurt’ and his decision to quit at the end of the ‘contracted’ term might also have been guided by the indifference of GOI and other stakeholders in the financial sector to the views expressed by him. He is much taller to be dwarfed by the barbs of economist-turned politicians.
That was an inescapable diversion. Back to the book, one is happy to see several reviews of Dr Subbarao’s book ( some of the writers pleading guilty that they are yet to see the book!) by economists and analysts. As is customary for book reviews, each one picks up the area of her/his choice to comment. The debate must go on.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Selecting RBI Governor
This refers to the BS interview with Dr Duvvuri Subbarao (Business Standard, July 26). The book, for some time to come, will be a reference point for debates on relationship issues between GOI and RBI.
No one can dispute that positions like those of RBI Governor cannot be filled by following selection processes followed by professional bodies like UPSC, if that is what ‘bureaucratic process’ means. But, though the quality of incumbents has not been compromised in selecting RBI Governor on 20 out of 23 occasions, the recent trend to keep them under pressure, either by extracting commitments while appointing or perennially harassing them by openly announcing ‘expectations from RBI’ is disturbing.
In his book, Subbarao has said, without making any specific observation to that effect, that Dr Rakesh Mohan whose name was floated as a possible successor of Y V Reddy was dropped after interviewing him, as Chidambaram was able to make an assessment that Dr Subbarao, being a seasoned civil servant, was more amenable to GOI discipline. The main issue discussed in FM’s chat with Subbarao in the said interview, where Dr C Rangarajan also was present was further follow up of FSLRC recommendation on Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).
PM and FM should have the final say in selection of incumbents to head statutory bodies like RBI. But, there is a felt need to expand the catchment area, to offer  more attractive remuneration packages for top positions in statutory bodies, PSUs including PSBs and make the minimum tenure 5 years.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Democracy and reforms
Perhaps by coincidence, two scholarly articles, one by Pulapre Balakrishnan on “The crisis of Indian democracy” and another by C Rangarajan on reforms appeared in the Hindu on the same day (The Hindu, July 27). Both raise some basic issues which have a bearing on governance and economic growth.
The top-down approach to democratic processes worked well during the first two decades of Indian republic. From 1970’s, political leadership started showing signs of disintegration and the federal system slowly started becoming a stumbling block in taking forward even the well-intentioned developmental measures. We refused to pay enough attention to literacy and did not give adequate attention to removal of poverty. This approach resulted in people not participating in democratic processes.
The 1991 crisis thrust upon the country the responsibility of implementing LPG (Liberalisation-Privatisation-Globalisation) reforms which were not tailor-made for experimenting in the Indian context. The cut and paste approach to reforms in all sectors including finance, industry, information technology and pension resulted in avoidable frictions and inefficient implementation of otherwise excellent projects and programmes.
The two articles, one by a professor of repute and another by one who has been guiding financial sector leadership and GOI for decades, can form the basis for a healthy debate on changes in outlook needed to transform India in the direction Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to take the country’s profile.
M G Warrier, Mumbai
Speech delivered by Jawaharlal Nehru on August 14, 1947 at Constituent Assembly:
 Tryst with destiny
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially.
At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.
It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her failures. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength. We end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again.
The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?
Freedom and power bring responsibility. The responsibility rests upon this assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India. Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.
That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity.
The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.
And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for anyone of them to imagine that it can live apart.
Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this one world that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.
To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.
The appointed day has come - the day appointed by destiny - and India stands forth again, after long slumber and struggle, awake, vital, free and independent. The past clings on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we have so often taken. Yet the turning point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about.
It is a fateful moment for us in India, for all Asia and for the world. A new star rises, the star of freedom in the east, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materialises. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed!
We rejoice in that freedom, even though clouds surround us, and many of our people are sorrow-stricken and difficult problems encompass us. But freedom brings responsibilities and burdens and we have to face them in the spirit of a free and disciplined people.
On this day our first thoughts go to the architect of this freedom, the father of our nation, who, embodying the old spirit of India, held aloft the torch of freedom and lighted up the darkness that surrounded us.
We have often been unworthy followers of his and have strayed from his message, but not only we but succeeding generations will remember this message and bear the imprint in their hearts of this great son of India, magnificent in his faith and strength and courage and humility. We shall never allow that torch of freedom to be blown out, however high the wind or stormy the tempest.
Our next thoughts must be of the unknown volunteers and soldiers of freedom who, without praise or reward, have served India even unto death.
We think also of our brothers and sisters who have been cut off from us by political boundaries and who unhappily cannot share at present in the freedom that has come. They are of us and will remain of us whatever may happen, and we shall be sharers in their good and ill fortune alike.
The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavour? To bring freedom and opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India; to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman.
We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be.
We are citizens of a great country, on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.
To the nations and peoples of the world we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering peace, freedom and democracy.
And to India, our much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our reverent homage and we bind ourselves afresh to her service. 
Jai Hind [Victory to India].



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