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Why Good Governance Is, And Must Always Be, “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”

The touchstone for any government, or any governance model, is how one deals with sections which may not necessarily be aligned with, or favourably inclined to, the ruling party, or the government in power.

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The last fortnight of the year 2021 saw three different unrelated events that hogged headlines.

One, a group, which described itself as a “Hindu religious assembly”, comprising little-known -- virtually unknown -- figures, made out-and-out provocative statements in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. The event has been described as one full of hate speeches. There is a tendency among some always looking for their 15 minutes of fame. The congregation was perhaps one such example. After the videos from the event were noticed on social media, the State Government agencies swung into action. Once the videos went viral, multiple media commentaries and editorials followed.

Two, an influential MP, who fashions himself as a champion of minorities’ rights and interests, and has pan-India ambitions, issued an open threat to UP Police “over atrocities allegedly committed by them”. The president of the Hyderabad-based party said: “Who will come to save you then? When Yogi will return to his mutt and Modi will retreat to the mountains, then who will come?”

However, not too many comments or editorials were seen in the media on the issue. This was surprising. Or, maybe, this was not. After all, the said MP is among the favorites of sections of the editorial class. He has been featured on magazine covers. He is a regular on TV talk shows.

Three, a Good Governance Week was observed through the country. The philosophy of Good Governance was taken to districts and villages in the 75th year of Independence.

The touchstone for any government, or any governance model, is how one deals with sections which may not necessarily be aligned with, or favourably inclined to, the ruling party, or the government in power.

Two contrasting examples can be cited here. First, the West Bengal model, where a section of the population was hounded, brutalized, terrorized and some even raped and maimed, only because they supported a rival political formation (the BJP). A series of such acts by the ruling party, the TMC, invited censure from judiciary and rights bodies. The State Chief Minister, presiding over such an administration, today has national ambitions. She is also actively wooed by sections of media and intelligentsia.

To understand the second example, a piece of statistics may be useful. Sometime back, the Union Minorities Affairs Minister was quoted as saying: “Out of 2 crore people who benefitted from the Modi government’s housing project, 31 percent are minorities, while 33 per ent of 12 crore farmers being provided Kisan Samman Nidhi are also minorities. Nearly 37 per cent of 8 crore Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries are minority women”.

When a governance model doesn’t discriminate between groups of people on the basis of their caste, or religion, or ethnicity, it is truly Good Governance on ground. When a model of governance seeks to work for the poorest, and the Dalits, the Backwards, and the most impoverished, it is best described as “sarvasparshi, samaveshi” (inclusive, all-encompassing). It doesn’t factor vote banks. It doesn’t seek to appease any particular section. It only works for “the last man standing in the queue”. Students of Political Science would describe this as the philosophy of Gandhi and Deendayal Upadhaya being put into practice.

Given the larger context, how fair then is it to insinuate and hold the BJP responsible for every controversial and provocative action and speech, made in any part of the country? And, what explains a total silence when open threats are issued to the UP Police?

However, every incident has its own learnings. One can easily draw some quick inferences from the two instances of hate speeches cited above as well.

One, no one is above law, and anyone threatening public order, or threatening to take law into their own hands must be dealt with sternly. Law must take its own course.

Two, students of Politics know that when it comes to BJP, impeccable communications is what they expect. Late Arun Jaitley was a role-model for anyone trying to get insights in the art and science of communications, especially in the context of the media, like when to speak, when not to speak, what to say, what not to say, and why not to say, and so on.

Three, after decades of toxic, sham secularism, marked by events like Shah Bano to assertions that “Muslims have first claim on resources,” the “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” philosophy takes care of all. It leaves out none, it appeases none.

Four, New India has also learnt to take pride in its civilizational moorings. From Aurobindo, to Swami Vivekananda, to Adi Shankaracharya, a universalistic philosophy alone inspires and defines India. The unifying force which respects and binds together India’s glorious diversity is India’s life-force.

Five, when Indian civilizational ethos meets new-age Indian aspirations and values, it becomes a force for global good. Indeed, the potential and ability of India as an agent of global good is infinite. The “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” philosophy, after all, is directed towards the larger good. Its logical culmination is India’s role as the “Vishwa Guru”. 

Some aberrations here and there will remain just that – aberrations.

(The writer, a JNU alumnus, is a political analyst. Views are personal)

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