Sunday, September 28, 2008

Heroes of Independent India

The year 1947 was a watershed in the history of India.The colonial rulers exited India and in the process,British ruled India was split into two nations.It has been more than 60 years since India's colonial rulers left the shores of India.In the last 60 years,India has definitely gone through a lot of ups and downs. She has been through the highs of the patriotic fervour of the 1940's and early 50's,the glorious victory of 1971 against her perennial neighbour Pakistan,the economic independence of the early 90's which followed the start of the liberalisation of the mid 80's and also its very own industrial revolution through the IT boom of the late 90's.In the very same period, she has lost many of her son's in the secessionist movements that started as early as the 60's in the North-East,Punjab in the late 70's to the early 90's and Kashmir from the early 90's onwards.India also had to go through a humiliating loss to China in the 1962 border war which had threatened to blow up into a full blown war,till the Chinese unilaterally withdrew(not before it consolidated its hold on NEFA and parts of Ladakh which it still continues to hold).One cannot forget the dark days of emergency which threatened to kill India's dreams of being a democratic nation with a strong and independent judiciary and civil services or the Ayodhya movement of the late 80's and early 90's which threatened to destroy the secular fabric of the country. Admidst all of this,India has managed to move on and march ahead on the path towards progress and development.Surely it is not just the gods who have smiled upon India all these years.Many heroes did emerge through the turbulent period of the early years who not only challenged the system but also emerged victorious and removed many of the loopholes and flaws in the system.These heroes showed the nation a path to move ahead and achieve success without fear and trepidition.They emerged as the real heroes of the common man and not just mere poster boys propped up by the media.
J P Narayan was one such hero who emerged on the political landscape a couple of years before emergency was clamped down by Indira Gandhi's Congress party. J P Narayan arguably was the only leader after Mahatma Gandhi who had the stature and respect among his contemporaries who managed to bring them all together on a common platform.He emereged as the leader of an eclectic group of political parties which had a common goal of defeating Indira Gandhi and bring an end to her tyrannical rule in the country.She had successfully de-institutionalised the Congress party by removing all the strong leaders in the Congress who could have emerged as a threat to her dominance and was being pushed to do the same throughout the civil services and judiciary by her infamous younger son Sanjay Gandhi who in most of the cases was running the show within the party and the government.The movements launched by J P Narayan in Bihar against corruption led to the dismissal of the state government and also shook the centres of power in Delhi.The movement launched by him spread to the neighbouring states and also to Gujarat and were the major reasons for emergency to be clamped down by an anxious central government.
Former Chief Election Commissioner of India T N Seshan was another hero who changed the way IAS officers and the office of the Election Commission functioned. T N Seshan was one officer who always stood up against the government and political elite for taking unilateral decisions. T N Seshan took over as India's CEC at a time when the electoral spending by political parties had reached a mammoth sum.He was arguably the first CEC who made the political elite realise that the office of the CEC could not be taken for granted. Some of the decisions taken by him like holding elections in phases over a period of 15-30 days were momentous and faced a lot of opposition from the political parties who always wanted elections to be held on the same day all over the country and state for their own petty purposes.T N Seshan also imposed strict rules like campaign timings and spending limits per candidate which previously were never implemented by former CEC's who either didn't have the spirit or character to take on the political class of the country. Some of T N Seshan's policies have had far reaching consequences even after his retirement from office.India has been able to conduct free and fair elections in regions like the North-East and leftist violence affected regions of Jharkhand,Bihar and Andhra Pradesh due to honest and upright IAS officers like him.Most of T N Seshan's contemporaries have followed his ideas and policies while conducting elections.T N Seshan was one officer who managed to bring the respect and dignity that the office of the Election Commission deserves.The Election Commission deserves all the accolades that come its way for ensuring that India's dream of being a democratic nation with an electoral franchise is not killed by selfish and self serving politicians who only care about their positions of power and not about the country's progress.

To be contd...


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