Sadly, no leader of Nehru, Patel’s stature in India today

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | August 28, 2013


PRIYA DUTT
PRIYA DUTT

My father was a victim of Partition and we were in some way fairly closely connected [to the freedom movement], hearing firsthand stories of the struggle. My generation of politicians is impacted much harder by 1947 than the generation after us, as the latter are too removed from stories of personal experience that we had heard. In contrast, their knowledge is based on reading history.

Though compared to many other nations, India is a young country, we have undoubtedly achieved a lot in these 66 years. People of our generation and those younger look at the country in a globalised manner and want to be out there like everyone else. The newer generation is very focused and know what they want, where they want to go, and have a vision for the next 20 or 30 years for this country.

When young people [MPs] like us meet in parliament, we talk and discuss what we want for the country and also look at the failings. It is very important to be self-critical to bring in improvement; we cannot bask in the glory of what we have achieved and say it’s great. That will stall our growth and push us back by several years.

I also feel it is sad for the country that it has few leaders with the intellect and gravitas of Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, S Radhakrishnan, Ram Manohar Lohia and Chandrasekhar Azad (to name only a few), especially when we need them for nation-building all over again in a newly emerging world order. Our country shared a common goal before independence, when we had great visionaries, and post-1947, they were united for nation building.
But there is no such common thread binding us at present, which is leading to many problems. We are diversified and fighting on issues such as region, caste, religion, and so forth. No one is talking of nation-building, and in all this I feel we have lost [the idea of] India somewhere.

Although India is set to emerge as one of the world’s youngest nations by 2020, unfortunately politics has become a dirty word today. When I speak to young people, and I interact with them often, I find them all shying away from politics. They ask me how I can remain a politician. But this outlook must change, otherwise it will harm the nation when we look at the new generation [to take up the leadership mantle].

The root of addressing all these problems lies in electoral reforms and transparency and the debate is out in the open.  Till we don’t have both, change will be trickling in slowly. We must look at it positively since these things have never occurred in our country (electoral reforms, RTI, etc). And yet, it’s out there today and people are debating about it. This tremendous awareness among the people, especially the youth, is a huge change for our country. The fact that people are raising questions is in itself a welcome change.

People accepted whatever they got earlier but that isn’t the case any more. This is a huge positive change that now needs to be channelised in the right direction. We need to come up with solutions and it has to be collective contribution, as the government is made by the people.

(As told to Geetanjali Minhas)

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