Quote 22: Shri Krishna’s Relevance to our Country’s Governance

‘If the teachings of Krishna  are shared by all,
The fissiparous hawks would exist no more.
That would end the hiatus betwixt  the Brahmins and the Mullahs,
And would make them the masters of their times.
The babbling of paeans for  the aliens would cease,
And the crafts and covin  would come to close.
We wish that the moon comes up even from the dust of our land,
Making our motherland emerge glorious and bold.
In this song of soul there is the strain of Krishna’s flute,
We pray that the expectations of our  heart come true.’

                                                                      –  Maulana Zaffar Ali Khan of Punja

Translated from the text in an article on ‘Muslim Poets and Bhagawan Shrikrishna’ by Brajmohanji Verma  in  of Shrikrishnankp. 677 [ the Gita Press, Gorakhpur].

Quote 21: The basic structure of the Constitution

We know how in our ancient days great kings considered themselves bound by the instructions given in the Shastras. Our Constitution itself is a shastra for us. One such a situation I had explained thus in my book Judicial Role in Globalised Economy (published in 2005)1: to quote from (Chapter 3) –

“Our literature provides us a suggestive story from which much wisdom can be derived. It is nuanced in the epic to turn into an expanded metaphor of deep import. The Valmikya Ramayana, in its Kishkindhakand (the Part dealing with what happened in Kishkindha), tells us a lot about Bali’s guilt which invited the divine curial justice. Sugriva was the victim of his wrath. Lord Rama came to help him. He struck Bali with a fatal arrow from a hide. Bali was furious, and he charged the Lord in scathing words. His charges were well reasoned. The poet devoted a full canto to set them forth, succeeded by a canto wherein the Lord replies in his defence quoting authorities. He made it clear that even He was working under constitutional limitations. Tulsidas has laconically described Bali’s charges in these two celebrated lines of the Ramacharitmanasa:

Dharma hetu avatarhu gosayin, mara mohi byadh ki nayi.
Main veri Sugriva piyara karan kawan nath mohi mara.

[O Lord! you came to ensure the triumph of dharma, but you have killed me behaving as an ordinary hunter. Tell me the reasons why have you discriminated me from Sugriva.]

Bali charged Rama invoking his Fundamental Right to Equality. Lord Rama neither lost temper nor brushed him off in the huff. He explained to Bali his cognizable faults. He explained his fundamental duties, which left him no alternative but to kill him. He does not silence Bali with any ex cathedra assertion. He justified his conduct with reference to binding authorities. He refers to the duties of king as mandated by the tradition and the Manusmriti. He suggested that even he was bound by dharma, which even he cannot break! Under our tradition even God is questioned.”

Here I intend to dwell only a few of those shlokas which provide directions to our representatives to think and act. Their import would be stated with utmost brevity leaving the pursuit of developing them comprehensively for persons abler than me.

Quote 20: The Idea of Secularism and ‘Dharma’

In the West, the idea of ‘secularism’ emanated from the idea of anti-clericalism. The Renaissance and the Reformation Movement led to the emergence of the powerful waves of atheism and agnosticism. Francis Fukuyama, the author of The End of History and the Last Man has said that we are living in a period of time that is analogous to the Reformation which made, in the West, ‘religion’ and ‘politics’ go apart.” In the 20th century and the years which have followed, the quest at ‘political liberation’ has led to libertinism and narcissism, and all the nonsense that goes under the rubric ‘post-midernism’. These have conspired to bring about corporate culture produced and conditioned by the soulless corporations. Peter Watson has aptly said that the shift in the ideas occurred in the 19th century itself: Owen Chadwick has portrayed the change in attitudes in his Secularisation of the European Mind in the Nineteenth Century (1975). This shift in the Western intellectual history was on account of several factors including the factors and vectors which emanated from the challenges posed by the ‘social’ and ‘intellectual’ problems: these included Karl Marx’s materialism, industrialization, and anticlericalism, and the impact of science on the ways the humans think and work. It is interesting to note that Earnest William Barnes wrote his Scientific Theory of Religion (1933) recognising the existence of “a Universal Mind which inhabits all matter in the universe, and that the purpose of the universe is to evolve consciousness and conscience in order to produce goodness and, above all, beauty”1, Peter Watson has made a very insightful comment when he said: “ Chadwick’s more original point is that as the nineteenth century wore on, the very idea of secularisation itself changed.” Besides, ‘Christianity’ itself is developing its ‘secularist’ dimensions, It would be clear from what an expert has said about the developments in ‘Christianity’:

“The movement towards secularism has been in progress during the entire course of modern history and has often been viewed as being anti-Christian and antireligious in the latter half of the 20th century, however, some theologians began advocating secular Christianity. They suggested that Christianity should not be concerned only with the sacred and the otherworldly, but that people should find in the world the opportunity to promote Christian values. These theologians maintain that the real meaning of the massage of Jesus can be discovered and fulfilled in the everyday affairs of secular urban living.”2

The study of the Chapter 24 (‘Our Worldview & the Trends of our Times’) would help you realise that it is unwise to confuse ‘Dharma’ with ‘religion’. ’Religion’ is a set of doctrinal assumptions which a particular society cultivates, and pursues to achieve its ends. History has shown that the sets of combative assumptions acquire respectability. Reject all doctrines, banish all gods, forget all scriptures, yet Dharma would be there to sustain nature. We never allowed ‘religion’ and ‘politics’ to become collaborators, so we never thought to set them apart.

The concept of ‘Secularism’ in the Preamble to the Constitution of India must be understood in the context of our culture. It means ‘sambhava’, the capacity to see the ‘One’ in all. The Bhagavad-Gita tells to become samdarshinah [The Bhagavad- Gita ( V.18)]. Its import is to be understood in the light of the mission of our Constitution, and the fundamental cultural assumptions shared by the people of India.

H. M. Seervai rightly explains the import of secularism in his Constitutional Law of India (P. 277) thus: “Secular” may be opposed to “religious” in the sense that a secular State can be an anti-religious State. In that sense, the Constitution of India is not secular, because the right to the freedom of religion is a guaranteed fundamental right. The word “secular” may mean that as far as the State is concerned, it does not support any religion out of public funds, nor does it penalize the profession and practice of any religion or the right to manage religious institutions as provided in Arts. 25 and 26. The secular nature of our Constitution has to be gathered from these and other Articles of our Constitution, like the Articles relating to a common Citizenship (Part II) and Articles 15, 16 and 29(2).

Quote 19: The Geeta at the most central point of the consciousness of those who read and reflect on the inscriptions on Parliament

Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks

S. Eliot’s ‘Ash-Wednesday’:

Some of the shlokas compiled in Message from Parliament are sound instructions to our representatives assembled in Parliament. They express the profound wisdom set forth in our Shastras. I marvel at the wisdom and insight of those who selected such shlokas for inscriptions for the guidance of our representatives assembled in Parliament to discharge their great constitutional duties.

 The fragments of thoughts on the inscriptions in our Parliament House can be tabulated thus mentioning the text of the quotes, their English rendering, and the places where they can be noticed:

Text on the inscription English rendering Place
1 धर्मचक्रप्रवर्तनाय (Lalit Vistara Ch, 26) For moving the Wheel of Dharma. overlooking the Speaker’s Chair in the L.S.
2 सत्यं वद धर्मं चर                                     (The Taittreeyopanishad Shikshavalli) Speak Truth; follow Dharma. on the top of the entry gate to the Rajya Sabha.
3 सत्यमेव जयते

(The Mundakopanishad, 3-1)

Truth Alone Triumphs. On the Emblem of India.
4 एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति                 (The Rigveda I-164-466) ‘One’ alone exists, the learned call Him in many names on the top of the entry gate to Rajya Sabha.
5 अयं निजः परो वेति गणना लघुचेतसाम्
उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् (The Panchtantra, 5-21)
The petty minds see the categories of ‘mine’ and ‘not-mine’ (or thine) , the broad minded persons see the whole world just as a family.

 

inscribed on the gate of the Central Hall.    

 

 

6 अहिंसा परमो धर्मः                         (The Mahabharata, Vanaparva , 207–74) ‘Non-violence is the Highest Dharma‘. inscribed on the top of the Rajya Sabha’s entry gate.
7 सर्वदा स्यान्नृप: प्राज्ञ:, स्वमते कदाचन। सभ्याधिकारिप्रकृतिसभासत्सुमते स्थित:

(The Raajdharma: Shukraniti, 2-3)

The ruler should be wise, not ego-centric. In deciding matters he should consider the views of the Members of the House, Officers,   and also from people at large   present in the House. On the dome near the Lift No. 4.
8 स्वे स्वे कर्मण्यभिरतः संसिद्धि लभते  नरः                                                     (The Bhagavad-Gita 18-45) One attains perfection by discharging Duties. On the top of the entry gate to Rajya Sabha.
9 सा सभा यत्र सन्ति वृध्दा:, वृध्दा ते ये 9वदन्ति धर्मम्

धर्म स नो यत्र सत्यमस्ति , सत्यं तत् यत् छलमभ्युपैति                         (The Mahabharata 5-35-58)

‘Sabha’ (parliament) does not exist where there are no elders; and they are not elders whose speech does not accord with Dharma. Their   speech cannot be righteous (dharmic) if it is devoid of truthfulness, and bears the taint of deceit. on the dome near lift no. 1 which can be better viewed from the first floor.
10 सभा वा प्रवेष्टव्या, वक्तव्यं वा समंजसम्अब्रुवन, बिब्रुवन वापि नरो भवति किल्मिषी                                      (The Manusmruti, 8/13) One may   enter the Assembly Hall, or may not do so. But once he goes there, there is no option but to speak truth in a righteous way. The one who does not speak, and the one who speaks falsely, both become sinners. on dome near Lift No. 2.
11 इ_नलाहो ला यूगय यरो मा _बकौ _मनह_ता युगय यरो वा _बन _तसे हुम “Almighty God will not change the condition of any people unless they bring about a change themselves.” (as translated in Message) inscribed in the arc-shaped outer-lobby of the Lok Sabha.
12 लो कद्धारमपावा र्ण ३३
पश्येम त्वां वयं वेरा ३३३३३
(हुं ) ३३ ज्या यो
             ३२१११ इति।                       (छन्दो. 2/24/8)[1]
“Open the door to thy people

And let us see thee

For the obtaining of the

sovereignty”

inscribed on Gate No. 1.
13 बरी रूवाके जेबर्जद नविश्ता अन्द बेर्ज,
जुज निकोई-ए-अहले करम नख्वाहद् मान्द[2]
This lofty emerald like building bears the inscription in gold: ‘ Nothing shall last except the good deeds of the bountiful.’ on the dome near Lift No. 5.

On broad reflections on the above mentioned quotes, one can see that the ideas they state can be stated under five different heads: (i) the grammar of existence of the cosmos and everything else in it; (ii) the code of conduct for the humans, in the present context, of the members of our Parliament; (iii) the norms which must govern the process of deliberation in this great deliberative body; (iv) the idea that ‘sovereignty’ is with the people who have the right to see, and (v) the warning of prudence for all those who sit in Parliament to reflect in order to act..

The Grammar of Existence : DHARMA

The quotes on the rocks have been carefully chosen to show those canons of practical ethics which inhere in Dharma, and always govern the discharge of the Kartavy-karma. ‘Dharma’ has no doctrinal bias, no sectarian bias, and no sectoral underpinnings. They are the profound instructions for right actions to all our Arjunas present in Parliament how to act in discharge of their duties.

The most fundamental concept that we know is of Dharma. This word cannot be translated in any other language of the world because nowhere else the very grammar of existence was discerned with greater rofundity and clarity. At the cosmic level, Dharma sustains everything so that it can run its course in accordance with its own existential grammar

The concept of Dharma has great practical relevance. Dharma, as Medhatithi says, means kartavya which is generally translated as ‘duties’ (Dharmasbdad kartavyata vachanah) . An expert has explained it as a set of norms followed by those learned in the Vedas, and are “approved by the conscience of the virtuous who are exempt from hatred and inordinate affection.” The Vaishesik philosophy defines its objective as the promotion of welfare ( yatobhhudayani). Bhishma tells King Yudhisthira that the core of Dharma is: to love others (‘Shantiparva’ Ch. 260). Dharma sustains everything, human and non-human, and controls and regulates their nature and their acts. The Mahabharata has emphasised, at several places, that victory always goes with dharma : ‘Yato Dharmahstato Jayah’ [reiterated by Karna (‘Ydyogaparva’ Ch. 142; by Drona (‘Ydyogaparva’ Ch.148); by Arjuna ( ‘Bhishmaparva’ Ch.21); by Sanjaya (‘Bhishmaparva’ Ch.65) ; and by Bhishma (‘Bhishmaparva’ Ch. 66)].

 

Quote 18: The grammar of existence: Dharma

I had an occasion to read Message from Parliament House in which Justice Dr. Rama Jois had compiled the inscriptions as on the walls of our Parliament House. Some of the shlokas tell us profound wisdom providing us an insight into Dharma essential to the art of the management of the public affairs to.

Text of the inscriptions English rendering of the text The place where the inscriptions exist
धर्मचक्रप्रवर्तनाय (Lalit Vistara Ch, 26) For moving the Wheel of Dharma. Overlooking the Speaker’s Chair in the Lok Sabha.
सत्यं वद धर्मं चर (The Taittreeyopanishad Shikshavalli) Speak Truth; Follow Dharma On the top of the entry gate to the Rajya Sabha.
एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति (The Rigveda I-164-466) ‘One alone exists, the learned call Him in many names. On the top of the entry gate to the Rajya Sabha.
इनलाहो ला यूगय यरो मा _बकौ _मनह_ता युगय यरो वा _बन _तसे हुम “Almighty God will not change the condition of any people unless they bring about a change in themselves.” “Almighty God will not change the condition of any people unless they bring about a change in themselves”

(as translated in Message)

Inscribed in the arc-shaped outer-lobby of the Lok Sabha.

The quotes on the rocks have been carefully chosen to show those canons of practical ethics which inhere in Dharma, and always govern the discharge of the Kartavy-karma. ‘Dharma’ has no doctrinal bias, no sectarian bias, and no sectoral underpinnings. They are the profound instructions for right actions to all our Arjunas present in Parliament how to act in discharge of their duties.

The most fundamental concept that we know is of Dharma. This word cannot be translated in any other language of the world because nowhere else the very grammar of existence was discerned with greater profundity and clarity. At the cosmic level, Dharma sustains everything so that it can run its course in accordance with its own existential grammar

The concept of Dharma has great practical relevance. Dharma, as Medhatithi says, means kartavya which is generally translated as ‘duties’ (Dharmasbdad kartavyata vachanah) . An expert has explained it as a set of norms followed by those learned in the Vedas, and are “approved by the conscience of the virtuous who are exempt from hatred and inordinate affection.” The Vaishesik philosophy defines its objective as the promotion of welfare ( yatobhhudayani). Bhishma tells King Yudhisthira that the core of Dharma is: to love others (‘Shantiparva’ Ch. 260). Dharma sustains everything, human and non-human, and controls and regulates their nature and their acts. The Mahabharata has emphasised, at several places, that victory always goes with dharma : ‘Yato Dharmahstato Jayah’ [reiterated by Karna (‘Ydyogaparva’ Ch. 142; by Drona (‘Ydyogaparva’ Ch.148); by Arjuna (‘Bhishmaparva’ Ch.21); by Sanjaya (‘Bhishmaparva’ Ch.65) ; and by Bhishma (‘Bhishmaparva’ Ch. 66)].

Quote 17: The Geeta at the most central point of the consciousness of those who see and reflect on the imageries at the Supreme Court of India

(i) The murals

“The mural on the tiles between the two entrances from the Judges’ wing to the Chief Justice’s Court display lotuses in full bloom on the top and at the bottom of the rectangle at the centre of which the Dharmachakra is portrayed. The lotuses tell our Hon’ble Judges what constitutes the very basic ideas of the Administration of Justice. A lotus grows above water, with its tendrils inside water and mud, teaching how to live and work with detachment. This quality of the art of life has been expressed in the Bhagavad-Gita through the profoundly suggestive expression: (Ch. V.10) which has been thus rendered in English:

 

‘Offering actions to Brahman,
Having abandoned attachment,
He acts untainted by evil
As lotus leaf is not wetted’”

Shiva Kant Jha’s ON THE LOOM OF TIME The Portrait of My Life and Times Chapt. 19 at p. 250)

 

(ii) The Emblem of the Supreme Court

On ascending the stairs of the massive and sprawling platform to the Supreme Court building, I was charmed by what appeared to me, from a distance, a vermillion-mark on the forehead of this Lady of Justice, at the spot where under our Tantra we find the Ajnachakra on which the yogis concentrate while meditating. I learnt that it was the emblem of the Supreme Court. It exists on the wall just above the entrance to the Chief Justice’s Court (Court No. I).

I felt that a full treasure of evocative ideas had been delightfully emblematized in light saffron images etched in the plaster of Paris relief. The base seemed to show how two snakes, coming from two opposite directions, curve to dip their heads in a coil alluding the source of human power and creativity known as the kundalini in our Yoga and Tantra. Above it, in the semi-circular stretch of a strip, is inscribed the immortal dictum of the profoundest truth: Yato Dharma-stato jayah. One is enraptured by the ravishing, well modulated, realistic lions in their most majestic but placid mood taken straight from the capital of the ancient Sarnath Ashokan pillar which Ashoka had erected at the place where the Buddha had proclaimed his Dharma revealing the very grammar of human life. Through the imagery of the lions, standing back to back facing the four directions, it was announced to all the triumph of Dharma in all the quarters of the universe. The Sarnath Ashokan lion capital surmounts an inverted lotus, often called the Persopolitan Bell. On it the Persian impact is obvious. We know that we had come in close contact with Persia and Macedonia during the days of Chandragupta Maurya. The inverted lotus brings to mind the image of the samsarbrikchha (the cosmic tree) with roots above and branches luxuriating down (described with high poetic precision in Chapter 15 of the Bhagavad-Gita). But the bell was excluded from our national emblem, perhaps for aesthetic compactness; and also because it was more appropriate to let the whole superstructure have its subjacent foundation on Satyameva Jayate (“Truth Alone Triumphs”), a mantra from the Mundaka Upanishad. What struck me most was the wise creativity emerging assertively in the emblem of the Supreme Court. It showed a beautifully carved Dharmachakra placed above the lions, its width suggesting its comprehensive dominance over all mortal powers. Even this Sarnath pillar had a wheel above its crest representing the universal triumph of Dharma. It is said that this wheel was destroyed during the Turkish invasion. How this might have looked before its destruction can be imagined by looking at the image of the Ashokan lion capital at Wat U Mong near Chiang Mai, Thailand, with well-wrought Dharmachakra at the crest of the lions. The Chakra suggests the subservience of all powers to the discipline of Dharma. The crest of Dharmachakra above the lions in the emblem of the Supreme Court, exfoliates the immanent presence of Dharma. And Dharma is the most powerful and accurate measuring-rod to measure all acts: it is also the most potent catalytic agent in the universe to ensure the unfaltering operation of the infallible Justice. The abacus of the capital bears a frieze with the images of an elephant, a horse in motion, a full-grown bull, and an imperious lion marching in languid rhythm each separated by a chariot wheel (the Dharmachakra). The wheels in motion suggested Dharmachakra which suggests to us that the universe is just kriya (action), and human life mere karmasamigri (instrument of action). The upward thrust of the conjoint images of the emblem of the Supreme Court, and their synergic effects bring to one’s mind an august pradeep (an earthen lamp) the flame which sheds light, tamso ma jyotirgamaya (lead us from darkness to Light). It can also be said that the imagery is choreographed with upward rhythm of a lotus in bloom to suggest that the kundalini at the base (in muladhar) is rising towards the Dharmachakra which is no different from the Sahasrarachakra of our Tantra. The overall thrust in the pattern of the images would invite the Judges, the litigants and all others who see it, to strive to be, what the Buddha had asked people to be in words of immortal poetry: ‘App dipo bhavah’ (Be thy own Light). In England, the Superior Courts are answerable, as Holdsworth says, “only to God and the King”. nder the Constitution of India, the King or the Queen is nonexistent, and God is not relevant to the polity or governance: at least this is what they say. Then to whom are our superior courts answerable? Our Constitution, which we have given to ourselves, contemplates no Grand Mughals. Our superior courts are answerable to the high institution of Judiciary itself: Justice being its sole guiding star. Hence, in India miscarriage of justice can be remedied only under a system of institutional accountability. Our Superior Court is answerable to itself as an institution, and ultimately to Dharma.

 

(iii) On the Chakra

The adoption of the image of Chakra at the centre of, at the heart of the flag, illustrates the profound insight of those who selected that image. I have always felt that this ‘Chakra’ on the flag is to be understood in a frame of reference wider than that conceived by the Buddhists.

I feel like conceptualizing three Chakras, though all these tend to become one in divine dispensation. First I conceive the Kaalchakra (the wheel of time). The great poet Bhartrihari has beautifully portrayed its inexorable working in his lines which I have quoted in Chapter 8 of this Memoir. It is within this domain where, to say in the words of Shakespeare, “wasteful Time debateth with Decay”. The cycles of life and death go on caught in the Kaalchakra (the Wheel of Time). This point is stated with precision in the Hitopdesha which says: ¿·ý¤ß.ÂçÚUßÌü.Ìð Îé¹æçÙ ¿ âé¹æçÙ ¿ (life keeps changing through sorrows and happiness). One is bound to act incessantly on this wheel. The Srimad Bhagavad Mahapurana tells us that ‘action’ alone can be one’s teacher and God (·¤×ñüß »éL¤çÚU.æÚUãU). But all that happens on the Kaalcharaa are judged and controlled by the Dharmachakra. Gandhari illustrates the sovereignty of the Dharmachakra by pronouncing to Duryodhana that it is Dharma alone that ultimately triumphs. When, in bad times, the operation of Dharma gets obstructed, the Kaalchakra invokes God to let His Sudarshanachakra operate. Nowhere in the world you can find the supreme power of destruction called ‘ sudarshana’(beautiful to look at). Our poets have called this wheel ‘sudarshana’ because it restores harmony in the universe by destroying what is against Dharma.

(iv) On Dharma

The words of Gandhari, Yato Dharmahstato Jayah (‘Where dharma is victory is surely there only’), are inscribed in Devanagari script on the semi circular strip on the Supreme Court’s emblem. I wonder at the wisdom of the person who chose this expression for being inscribed on that. This supreme law (‘Yato Yato Dharmahstato Jayah’) has been referred at several places in the Mahabharata by persons like Krishna, Sanjaya, Vidura, Vyasa and Gandhari. Before going to the battle field, Duryodhana went to his mother Gandhari for her blessings to achieve victory. She blessed him telling: “victory would go where dharma resides”. We all know that he fought bravely, but was defeated and killed. When the devastating war of the Mahabharata was over, the Pandavas, with their supreme mentor Krishna, went to meet Gandhari. So sore was that pious lady that she decided to curse them for having destroyed her sons and many others most venerated by all. The great Vyasa could see through his inner eyes that the Pandavas would be cursed, and would have to reap the consequences of her wrath. He ran to Gandhari to dissuade her from doing what she had contemplated to do. He told her that what had happened was the command of Dharma, and accorded well with her own verdict. Listening to this, she gave up the idea of cursing the Pandavas.

(v) The Flag

From afar, the tricolour flag of our nation can be seen atop the portico, resting on massive solid round pillars with decorated frieze on the capital. The verandah is most often crowded by the lawyers in black coats, coming out and going into the court rooms with alacrity and pace as if the doomsday is just round the corner. Our nation’s flag is an epic, a veritable reflecting-mirror of the values of our culture. We cannot be indifferent to this symbol of our nation. I was not much interested to know why and how the colours for our flag were chosen. What matters is the imagery it provides, and idioms in which it communicates. Its saffron top stresses not only the most admirable quality of detachment, but also it brings to mind the flag of Arjuna in the Mahabharata War, and also the great Bhagwa flag of our Shivaji the Great. The green down the flag represents the nation’s commitment to agriculture, and our obligations not to pollute nature and environment. The central band of our flag bears the image of a chakra (wheel) with 24 spokes. It symbolizes the famous Buddhist Dharmachakra suggesting our commitment to peace and spiritual values so important in our world of fast changing technology but stagnant, if not decadent, morality. I remember what decades back my father, himself a freedom-fighter, had told me that the Dharmachakra can turn into the Sudarshanchakra of Krishna,if dharma is ignored on account of the tainting factors like greed, lust, anger and fear. I enjoyed the great poetry expressed through the possibilities of the transformation of the Dharmachakra intothe Sudarshanchakra to undo injustice. I always salute the flag once a day when I enter the campus of the Court. I wish the Hon’ble Judges and the lawyers should also pay a daily homage to our flag.

Quote 16: Democracy and the invigourating Gita

(i) I cannot forget the vernal breeze from our classical India

Under our cultural tradition, our polity was always ‘democratic’ and ‘socialistic’. It was ‘democratic’ as there existed no distance between the interest of government and that of our people. J. Bronowski has aptly said: it was this distance between people and government that ruined Babylon, Egypt and Rome. Our ancient polity was essentially democratic and socialistic. Kings were either elected by people, or were accepted on account of their proved worth. They were always subject to Dharma, and were accountable to people. When a king grew anarchic, either he was removed from power, or was destroyed by people. We have several such examples. The type of absolute ‘sovereign kingship’ that we get in the Leviathan of Hobbes, or in The Law of Free Monarchies of James I of England in the 17th century, was unknown. No king in the ancient India said that he was the State ( “L’Etat,c’est moi”). Dharma constituted the basic structure of the constitution, and the king could easily be questioned even by the humblest amongst the people. The ideal, set before the government, was deeply saturated with the egalitarian values (which are now at the heart of our present Constitution). An expert, in her research work, summarizes the objectives, which according to Krishna, were to be pursued by the kings:

“It is the King’s duty to establish new trade and commerce in his land for the benefit of his people. It is possible to improve the economic conditions of people only through new and innovative commercial enterprises. When Krishna saw that the land was rich in cattle wealth, he saw to it that this enterprise was recognized as a profession. Earlier this enterprise was not growing because of the extractive tyranny of Indra who mopped out all its profits. Krishna taught people to stand against this exploitation and tyranny. …. According to Krishna, a king’s supreme objective was only the welfare of his people. He would punish even his relations if they did anything that went against such an objective..”

The classical Hindu political thought stagnated after the advent of Islam. Islam left no impact on our political thought . But the sclerosis that set in during that long period of servitude to the militant imperialism of Islam, continued even during the British period of our history when we adopted the British political institutions and ideas.

The spell of the West has now reached its apogee in the neoliberal thoughts in this era of Economic Globalisation growing apace in our country from the 1990s. The neoliberal gloss on ‘democracy’ has been most pronounced in recent years. As the British view of democracy and the neoliberal view of democracy come from the same matrix of the western thought, I would spell out, first, the driving ideas and the dominant features of the Western view of ‘democracy’.The comprehension of that will help us understand what is happening in our country these days, because we have become wholly trapped in that view of democracy under the neoliberal gloss. But before I set out doing that, I would explore in a few words the collective consciousness of our Constituent Assembly as I see reflected in our Constitution.

(ii) Impact on the collective consciousness of our Constituent Assembly

I have discussed in Chapter 21 of this Memoir that our Constitution has a ‘socialist mission’ as the expression is understood in India’s cultural ethos and its widely shared social mores.

One strange syndrome I have noticed in our country: it is the slave’s syndrome. It is said that a slave, even when freed, loves to wear his chains. Once he struggled to break his fetters, now he enjoys them as ornaments on his flesh. Before the advent of the neoliberal thoughts, we had invoked the Fabian socialism to provide a gloss on our Constitution’s provisions. Once accustomed to think that way, we have been led to accept the assumptions and strategies triumphant in this phase of Economic Globalization. When we reflect on what is being done (partly obvious but mostly under cloak), and what is being said, though more to conceal than to reveal, we have reasons to believe that we have missed the message of our Constitution.

I have considered it appropriate to call our democracy, as conceived under our Constitution, a ‘socialist democracy’ or a ‘democracy’ with socialistic mission to differentiate it from ‘a laissez-faire democracy’ that had been conceived and erected under the U.S. and the British constitutions. I cannot deny that some of the egalitarian objectives were pursued there also, but, in my view, that was not specifically mandated by their constitutions. Those good things were obtained by common people, because the persons in power feared that the conditions of injustice could make even the ‘great beast’, as common people were called, turn dangerous.

Our Constitution did not enact the ideas of a Friedeich von Hayek, or of a Milton Friedman in its text. The Market Economy, it is well known, is founded on the ideas of Frederich von Hayek or of Milton Friedman, or the proponents of the ‘neoliberal paradigm’ at the heart of the present-day corporate imperium. We all know well that the idea of Social Justice runs through our Constitution. But Hayek considers the concept of ‘social justice’ the most powerful threat to law conceived in recent years. Social justice, said Hayek, ‘attributes the character of justice or injustice to the whole pattern of social life, with all its component rewards and losses, rather than to the conduct of its component individuals and in doing this it inverts the original and authentic sense of liberty, in which it is properly attributed only to individual actions’. I have reflected on the egalitarian mission of our Constitution in Chapter 21. I do not think it worthwhile to pursue the point further. I had heard a story at my school. Why does a camel go towards the West, when it finds itself untetherd ? The answer was: “It does so because the area of desert, for which it craves, is in the west.” We have seen how our politicians and thinkers love to glitter in borrowed plumes. They have borrowed the ideas and customs of the western democracy, often to subjugate or confuse our vision of our Constitution’s mission. Hence, I would cast a bird’s eye view on such assumptions and values with utmost brevity.

(iii) The Western view of ‘Democracy’

My reflections have convinced me that there are two crowning assumptions in the ‘democracy’ about which the West speaks in this phase of economic globalisation:

  1. The idea of ‘social equality and justice’ is a romantic nonsense. The ‘Invisible Hand’ at work in the Market must not be hindered or interfered with. The ideas of egalitarianism must be ignored. This view, in the ultimate analysis, ensues from the West’s shared ‘concept of Man’ In the ‘Notes and References’ at the end of this Chapter, I would quote what the great men of the West have said on this.
  2. The governments were structured mainly for two prime purposes: (a) to protect and promote the private property, and (b) to provide free scope for the exercise of liberty for creating and amassing wealth. The function of the government is to provide legal and administrative infrastructure for the twin pursuits. Besides, it must ensure that “the great beast”, as Alexander Hamilton called people (the demos), does not upset the apple cart. In effect, ‘government’ exists to protect the property interests of the dominant class of people.

 

(iv) The nature and parameters of the Western Democracy

“Democracy dealt with the political aspect of liberty. It was a reaction against autocracy and other despotism. It offered no special solution of the industrial problems that were arising, or of poverty, or class conflict. It laid stress on a theoretical freedom of each individual to work according to his bent, in the hope that he would try, from self-interest, to better himself in every way, and thus society would progress. This was the doctrine of laissez-faire,…..But the theory of individual freedom failed because the man who was compelled to work for a wage was far from free.” Itwasa reaction against autocracy and despotism of the determinate political superiors, be they the churches or the kings. It was not designed to solve the industrial troubles by creating conditions for socio-economic justice, nor was it created to lessen inequality, nor was it a way to deal with growing poverty and bitterness on account of growing class conflicts. In effect, it was more a device to acquire somehow acceptability for the system that worked for the dominant minority wielding economic power. It laid stress on a theoretical freedom of each individual to workaccording tohis bent, and it told all that the individuals can themselves better their lot as they know best how to promote their interests. It was pleaded that such pursuits would create condition for happiness and progress. But it never strove with whole heart to create conditions under which the weal of all could be ensured under the aspects of socio-economic justice (without which formal ‘democracy’ becomes a mere device to deceive by projecting illusions). Even when the doctrine of laissez-faire was not ruling the roost in the West, the government primarily existed for the rich and the privileged. As I have said somewhere, the real victor of World War II was the USA. As the USA worked, in effect, through corporations, the doctrine of the laissez-faire turned supreme after World War II. After much reflection, keeping in view the recent developments in the jurisprudence of the West, I observed in the ‘Introduction’ to my Judicial Role in Economic Globalisation (2005):

“It is clear from the trends and tendencies of our day that Market is planting its kiss on all the institutions spawned by the political realm. It has enchanted the executive to become market-friendly. Its persuaders have not left outside their spell even Judiciary. Richard Posner speaks of the Constitution as an economic document, and proposals have been made to refashion constitutional law to make it a comprehensive protection of free markets, whether through new interpretation or new amendment, such as a balanced-budget amendment.”

And Stiglitz says: “Even within the international institutions, seldom is global policy discussed in terms of social justice.”11 So annoyed was Bertrand Russell with a democracy sans ‘socio-economic justice’ that he said in his Autobiography (p. 515):

“Some ideals are subversive and cannot well be realized except by war or revolution. Political justice had its day in industrialized parts of the world and is still to be sought in the unindustrialized parts, but economic justice is still painfully sought goal. It requires a world-wide economic revolution if it is to be brought about. I do not see how it is to be achieved without bloodshed or how the world can continue without it….. These inequalities rouse envy and are potential causes of great disorder. Whether the world will be able by peaceful means to raise the conditions of the poorer nations is, to my mind, very doubtful, and is likely to prove the most difficult governmental problem of coming centuries.”

How close Russell goes to Mahatma Gandhi, who had provided a talisman for making decisions in our free India, and had warned the capitalists of all hues against the exploitative system. Please read the quotation from the Young India quoted in Chapter 19 of this Memoir.

The victors of the World War fought to protect ‘democracy’ with messianic zeal but they worked to promote a new brand of imperialism which intended to control resources and economic decision-making. Noam Chomsky has perceptively pointed out that certain great powers of our day consider that “the need ….. for colonization is as great as it ever was in the nineteenth century” to bring to the rest of the world the principles of order, freedom, and justice to which “postmodern” societies are dedicated ….” And after World War II, nothing has been used so dexterously to promote the agenda of the United States and of the corporate imperium as this, simple sweat, word ‘democracy’. Reflecting on the U.S. strategies, Chomsky rightly says:

“There is ample evidence of Wolfowitz’s passion for democracy and his concern for suffering people, as he lent strong support to some of the most corrupt and appalling murderers, torturers, and aggressors of the late twentieth century.”

It is said that Bentham considered the great Declaration of the French Revolution (The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen) a mere nonsense on stilts, ‘a metaphysical work — the ne plus ultra of metaphysics’. To our neoliberals, the ‘democracy’ and the ideals stated in the Preamble, as our Constitution contemplates, are nonsensical. For them ‘democracy’ means what it means for the USA. And what it means for the USA can be easily understood. ‘Democracy’ promotes the ‘national interests’ which means, as Chomsky says, ‘the special interests of domestic sectors that are in a position to determine policy.’ Marx rightly said: ‘The state is an executive committee for managing the affairs of the governing class as a whole’. Our Constitution is sui generis as it breaks new ground by expressing ‘democracy’ with a socialist vision. But we see that those, who have worked it, have betrayed our trust. The hiatus between expectation and achievements has widened over three years.

Shiva Kant Jha’s ON THE LOOM OF TIME The Portrait of My Life and Times Chapt. 22 at pp. 314-318

Quote 15: We are, when all is said, incorrigible optimists

I have drawn up the portrait of our plight with the sole objective to stimulate our great people to think of our sad comedown. I am sure that we can set our affairs right. If we assert with wisdom and creativity, we can prove our worth, and make our country great. Time has come to realize :

Uddhared atmanatmanam
Natmanam avasadayet
Atmaiva hy atmano bandhur
Atmaiva ripur atmanah.

[We can lift ourselves through our endeavours alone.
We must not degrade ourselves through our actions or inactions.
We are ourselves our friends, and are ourselves are our foes.]

Prometheus in Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound establishes the triumph of the moral order ensuring Hope despite all the sufferings of being bound on the wheel of fire. Demogorgon, who overthrew the tyrant Jupiter, whose wrath Prometheus suffered, comes to tell people to struggle to save what we cherish : the weal of all :

To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than Death or Night;
To defy Power which seems Omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope, till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates. . .

To decide what is ‘karyakarya-vyavasthiti’ (meaning prudence is to decide what should be done, and what should not be done), we must interpret our Constitution in accordance with ethics of a democratic republican polity. Joseph Storey had aptly said in The Miscellaneous Writings of Joseph Storey; Frame constitutions of government with what wisdom and foresight we may, they must be imperfect, and leave something to discretion, and much to public virtue.” Art. 20(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany goes to say:

“All Germans have the right to resist any person seeking to abolish the constitutional order, should no other remedy be possible.”

Though our Constitution does not say such a thing in so many words, such commitments are implied in our Constitution; also as this Constitution has been made by ‘We, the People’ in whom the unalienable ultimate political authority vests. Our Constitution makes certain high constitutional functionaries to swear to ‘uphold’ our Constitution. But it is the ever abiding duty of the political sovereign, ‘We, the People’, to keep even them under critical vigilance. Ultimately the people alone can protect, preserve, and destroy the Constitution they have framed through their representatives. Only time would judge us and our institutions whether our wisdom matches with the responsibility which our Destiny has cast on us. How infinitely wise was Sachchidananda Sinha, provisional Chairman of the Constituent Assembly, in quoting the words of the great Joseph Story who, after praising the features of his country’s Constitution, warned its keepers:

‘The structure has been erected by architects of consummate skill and fidelity;…. It may, nevertheless, perish in an hour by the folly, or corruption, or negligence of its only keepers, THE PEOPLE. Republics are created – these are the words which I commend to you for your consideration – by the virtue, public spirit and intelligence of the citizens. They fall when the wise are banished from the public councils because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded because they flatter the people in order to betray them.’

Shiva Kant Jha’s ON THE LOOM OF TIME The Portrait of My Life and Times Chapt. 21 at pp. 307-308

Quote 14: Our ‘Constitutional Socialism’: Historical Perspective

What led Mrs Gandhi to go in for the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, inserting specifically the idea of ‘socialism’ into the Preamble to the Constitution operative from 3.1.1977, has been much speculated upon mainly in the phase when the creeping ideas of capitalism tend to capture the thought process of the wielders of our political power. What has led to this is not far to seek though its realities are evaded even by the experts. The mission of our Constitution’s ‘socialism’ was never appreciated by the capitalists. Even the word ‘socialism’ seems to them like a red rag to a bull. I remember to have participated, whilst I was a student at my school and college at Darbhanga, in the frequently organized processions, meetings and peace marches for our Constitution’s ‘socialist’ mission. In doing so I had in one of my cousins a role model, though he was just a petty socialist leader but with great verve and conviction.

But only in the 1990s, I could become conscious that the conspirators against our Constitution’s mission had much succeeded in subverting our system to serve the interests of the growing capitalists of all brands, national or international. Even whilst Mrs. Gandhi was at the helm of our political affairs, it was obvious that such forces had exercised their ultima ratio through the strategies of ‘money power’ and ‘deception’ slowly at work to turn India into a ‘Sponsored State’. As a student of history, I am of the firm conviction that ‘capitalism’ triumphs only through the conjoint operation of Mammon’s Power of wealth and Mephistopheles’ power of allurement through deception. The scope of this Chapter does not permit me to go deep and wide into such matters, but I would mention the trends which even Mrs. Gandhi must have marked emerging in our country and elsewhere.

Anybody who has critically studied the history of our times would have marked that the real victor in World War II was America in which politics works under the dense shadow of the Big Business. The trends to subjugate political institutions to the economic realm have been at the heart of the neoliberal paradigm. Even when Mrs Gandhi was in power, massive efforts had been made by the US Government, big corporations, and their alter-ego, the institutions set up at the international plane, to promote their interests. The strategy of providing ‘aid’ was used even in the late 1960s and in 1970s to crowbar for the intrusion of the American corporate interests. How this sort of system worked over the years find a graphic description in the words of Noam Chomsky:

“Within the nation-state, the effective “national purpose”, will be articulated, by and large, by those who control the central economic institutions, while the rhetoric to disguise it is the province of the intelligentsia.”

I would show in Chapter 24 (‘Our world-view and the trends of our times’) of my Memoir how adroitly the imperialists had worked to establish in our country a Sponsored State to promote the interests of the British in India. The East India Company ensured that the key-functionaries in the Nawab’s Government remained loyal to the Company Bahadur, and promoted that Company’s interests showing only ostensible loyalty to the Nawab. In my Judicial Role in Globalised Economy, I examined their strategy, and stated:”

“Clive pursued this objective with a stroke of stealth by securing for Rida Khan, who was Clive’s deputy diwan, the post of the nawab’s deputy. The inevitable consequence was the emergence of powerful coterie of bureaucrats and self-seekers who worked for the Company whilst swore loyalty to the nawab.”

The lobbyists, the corporations and the vested interests brought about similar situations in our country. How such things happened has been well described by Noam Chomsky with whose conclusion I wholly agree. Chomsky quotes8 Mr. Meagher :“If it was possible, India would probably prefer to import technicians and know-how rather than foreign corporations. Such is not possible; therefore India accepts foreign capital as a necessary evil.” Even by 1966, enough had been done indicating that the American Government and the World Bank ‘arrogated to themselves the right to lay down the framework in which our economy must function.” Chomsky quotes a dispatch of that year which reveals how our mission of constitutional socialism was lost. He quotes the dispatch:

‘There are signs of change. The Government has granted easy terms to private foreign investors in the fertilizer industry, is thinking about decontrolling several more industries and is ready to liberalize import policy if it gets sufficient foreign aid… Much of what is happening now is a result of steady pressure from the United States and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which for the last year have been urging a ubstantial freeing of the Indian economy and a greater scope for private enterprise. The United States provides by far the largest part of foreign exchange needed to finance India’s development and keep the wheels of the industry turning. Call them “strings,” call them “conditions” or whatever one likes, India has little choice now but to agree to many of the terms that the United States, through the World Bank, is putting on its aid. For India simply has nowhere else to turn’

Commenting on this, Chomsky writes aptly, what was becoming evident to all: “The heading of the article refers to this development as India’s “drift from socialism to pragmatism.”

Such developments must have jolted Mrs Gandhi, as she had an unswerving faith in our ‘constitutional socialism’. A lot of domestic and international distractions and challenges had drained her out. It was humanly impossible for her to gauze all the implications of the economic structure being devised by the vested interests. Besides, after the Emergency, she developed some fatigue and had grown lonely and indifferent. It was natural But it is not far to seek that the 42nd Amendment, operative from 3.1.1977, had inserted the idea of ‘socialism’ into the Preamble to our Constitution to forestall the trends of the neo-imperialism of corporatocracy, growing fast in the post-Yom Kipper (1973)-phase. It was to make explicit what was at the heart of the constitutional provisions, and also to emphasize certain norms and values at the heart of our Constitution. M.P. Jain rightly says:

“the concept of ‘socialism’ has been made explicit and India’s commitment to this ideal has been underlined and strengthened.”

Just a year before the 42nd Constitutional Amendment, a powerful book had come out: Bell’s The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism highlighting the irreconcilable contradictions of the neo-liberal capitalist society producing the sinister trends evidencing the gruesome, to quote Peter Watson, “separation of law from morality, ‘especially since the market has become the arbiter of all economic and even social relations (as in corporate obligations to employees) and the priority of the legal rights of ownership and property over all other claims, even of moral nature.’” It was natural that, on reading the trends of the time, she thought it appropriate to underscore our Constitution’s prime mission. But most graphic account of the fundamentals of our Constitutional Socialism is found in some of the celebrated decisions of our Supreme Court: to quote from two widely known judgments. In Excel Wear v. Unionof India (AIR 1983 SC 130 (para 33), the our Supreme Court explained the concept of Socialism comprehensively. But the classic exposition of, Socialism, under our Constitution, was made by Justice Chinnappa Reddy in a Constitution Bench decision in D. S. Nakara v. Union of India AIR 1983 S.C. 130: to quote in extenso –

“The principal aim of a socialist State is to eliminate inequality in income and status and standards of life. The basic framework of socialism is to provide a decent standard of life to the working people and especially provide security from cradle to grave. This amongst others on economic side envisaged economic equality and equitable distribution of income.”

(b) The collective consciousness of the Constituent Assembly

On the examination of the broad profile of our Constituent Assembly the following points emerge:

(i) The Constituent Assembly was virtually a microcosm of India. Most of the leading lights of our Freedom Movement were assembled there. They had in their marrow, the fire that burnt to inspire us in waging struggle for our freedom. We must not forget their noble ideas in running our polity for socio-economic management. Art. 51A of our Constitution wants every citizen of this Republic to “cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom” .

(ii) The Constituent Assembly was never under the hangover of Karl Marx. Neither the Communist Party nor the Socialist Party had their representatives in the Constituent Assembly. Glanville Austin says: the “absence of a formal Socialist group meant little, however, for most members of the Assembly thought themselves as Socialists, and with few exceptions the members believed that the best and perhaps only way to the social and economic goals that India sought was by the road of government initiative of industry and commerce.’

The members of the Constituent Assembly were well versed in oriental cultural ideas, and most of them were distinguished masters in humanities and jurisprudence. On a close scanning of the career and thoughts of many of them, I concluded that the Bhagavad-Gita had the greatest impact on their thoughts which found expressions in our Constitution. It is really tragic to note that our jurists have not appreciated this fact. Certain points are obvious:

(a) The Bhagavad-Gita and our Constitution contemplate no class conflict, or class struggle. We have rejected Marx’s dictum: “The [written] history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle”. Our society has always believed in co-existence and harmony of all.

(b) The driving force in the cosmic affairs for Hegel is Spirit. For Marx the driving force is ‘matter’, which means that for him “the driving force is really man’s relations to matter, of which the most important part is the mode of production”, in effect, his ‘materialism, in practice, becomes economics.’ In the Bhagavad-Gita (and our Constitution) the driving force is lokmangal, welfare of all. The great poet ‘Dinkar’ had felicitously described in his epic Kurukshetra that peace cannot last long unless it is based on the just socio-economic arrangements of the affairs in a given society.

(c) The Bhagavad-Gita and our Constitution contemplate Rights and Duties for the development and happiness of all. The Utilitarians are satisfied with the happiness of a few, thereby facilitating the emergence of Capitalism, Fascism, and now neo-liberalism. Their arch-priest Bentham cared little for the weal of all. He thought of the liberty only for a few dear to Adam Smith’s ‘Invisible Hand’. The rights of man, he said, were plain nonsense. When the French revolutionaries made their ‘ Declaration des droits de l’homme,’ Bentham called it ‘a meta-physical work—the ne plus ultra of metaphysics’. Our Constitution posits an over-arching social vision for the Free India: in short, it rejects Adam Smith’s unfair assertions.

(c) ‘Socialism’ under our philosophy

I have always believed that our Constitution’s attitudes towards ‘property’ are socialistic. H. G. Wells has very perceptively observed:

“Essentially Socialism is no more and no less than a criticism of the idea of property in the light of public good….A steady, continuous criticism of the permissible scope of property seems to have been going on for the last twenty-five centuries.”

The socialist vision expressed in the Constitution can be called ‘Constitutional Socialism’. It is not ‘socialism’ as understood by Marx. The neoliberal philosophers of the West sought to promote capitalism by rejecting ‘social justice’ and ‘equality’. The philosopher, whose influence is writ large in the Constitution and the political economy of the United States, was John Locke (1633-1704). The system of checks and balances in the structure of constitutional polity is a mere adjunct to his view of political economy. Bertrand Russell insightfully points out that the proponents of capitalism tend to believe that the glory of the West is on account of capitalism. Bertrand Russell draws up this spectacle of this alluring illusion in these words:

“No doubt he was impressed, as all men of his time were, by the gains to civilization that were due to the rich men, chiefly as patrons of art and letters. The same attitude exists in modern America, where science and art are largely dependent upon the benefactions of the very rich. To some extent, civilization is furthered by social injustice.”

The objectives set under our Constitution, as also in the Bhagavad-Gita, are not “greatest good for the greatest number”; but the welfare of all. We are free to earn, but not to turn robbers. This is the principle of lokamangal suggested in the Gita. This view provides right alternative to the Lockean view of property.

Our Constitution’s Socialism is an expanded metaphor. It has an activist content of Justice. It exfoliates itself in the Preamble to the Constitution, and also in the harmony and synergy of the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles prescribed under our Constitution. Under our ‘Constitutional Socialism’ the State has a positive role to play. It represents the people of the country.

(d) Dimensions of our constitutional socialism

In course of my reflections over years, and whilst assisting the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court in deciding certain constitutional issues, I analysed and articulated some important dimensions of our constitutional socialism’. I would summarize them thus:

[A] Philosophical dimension:

  1. Driving force in human history, according to Hegel, is ‘Spirit’; but it is ‘Matter’ according to Karl Marx, but for Marx ‘it is a matter …, not the wholly dehumanized matter of the atomists, hence, in effect, it turns out ‘ really man’s relation to matter, of which the most important part is his mode of production: in short economics.14 This is the philosophical foundation of the Hegelian dialectics utilized by Marx to interpret history. We have not shared this view. Our spiritual vision of the universe is not simplistic Besides, we believe in the welfare of all. Our history has developed in a trajectory much different from the West’s. Our Constitution commits our polity to an egalitarian vision for everyone’s welfare: it, thus, reflects our philosophical tradition.
  1. Hegel, Darwin and Marx believed in the inevitability of progress as universal law, which made them impervious to ethical considerations. The norms set forth in the Preamble, the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles stress on the karma and kartavya both towards the individuals and the State. This philosophical dimensions of our ‘constitutional socialism’ would again come up for reflections in Chapter 24.

[B] Political Dimension

  1. Our Constitution reflects the ethos of our Struggle for Freedom in which our nation had participated as a whole: the sacrifice made by the poor was surely more than that of others who had reasons to calculate their profits. Democracy is not just a system to set up a political structure which can be allowed to be captured by vested interests through art or craft; it is, in fact, a system to provide a mechanism to realize the welfare of all, without riding roughshod over the fair and legitimate interests of individuals whatever be the segments to which they belong.
  1. The Political Realm is not to be made subservient to the Economic Realm, where the Rule of Corporations and the Market ( Pax Mercatus) prevails. The State, under our Constitution, cannot roll back its activities as that would be a gross constitutional dereliction. Even the policy changes must conform to the constitutional policies, and our Constitution’s principles and provisions.
  1. There must not be an opaque system, as darkness is never conducive to promote the ideas and the ideals of our Preamble, the Fundamental Right, and the Directive Principles of our Constitution.
  1. Our ‘Constitutional Socialism’ is founded on the fundamental principle of our Constitution’s supremacy, and the inevitable subservience of all the organs of the State to the Constitution. As I have already said, this supremacy operates both in the domestic sphere, and at international plane.

[C] Social Dimension

  1. Our Constitution is committed to bring about a social revolution to change the unjust stratification of our society which trapped us over the centuries, but this objective cannot be realized if wealth and power get polarized in our country.
  1. It is this over-arching egalitarian constitutional vision which conditions the content of such seminal concepts as ‘liberty, ‘equality’, ‘fraternity’, ‘dignity’, ‘unity’….. ‘Liberty’ cannot be reduced to a mere license to exploit and loot; and ‘equality’ cannot exist in grossly unfair and unequal society. ‘Fraternity’ and ‘dignity’ cannot be achieved in plutocratic and oligarchic tyrannies of the vested interests.
  1. ‘Social Justice’ is the very purpose of our polity, and the very heart of our Constitution. This requires creation of conditions for all so that quality of life improves.

[D] Economic Dimension

  1. Our constitutional socialism contemplates no class struggle: it believes in the welfare of all.
  1. Our constitutional socialism does not permit greedy acquisitiveness of capitalism, and believes in an equitable distribution of social resources so that even the so-called ‘last man’ is not without the basic amenities for existence, and is not excluded from the conditions needed for dignity, and for the fruition of his natural faculties.
  1. The Government is a trustee to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting a social order “in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all institutions of national life”.
  1. The State must ensure that the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment.
  1. The natural resources should be managed wholly with egalitarian ideas, and to the exclusion of the gross commercial motives of the market economy.
  1. The standard for decision-making in our public spheres should be judged on the talisman given by Mahatma Gandhi15 , so that justice is done even to our ‘last man’.
  1. The State must ensure that the integrity of our society is not subverted by consumerism, and the deceit of the vested interests. The State must preserve our value system, education and health so that they are not degraded, polluted, or subverted under this neo-liberal craze generated by the high pressure advertisement.
  1. To ensure that we can build our socialist society under the aspect of justice, we must work for peace so that our limited resources are not wasted for the benefit of capitalists, who need wars to sell their armaments, and need an opaque rogue system of ethereal finance; to amass their extractively acquired wealth in dark corners away from people’s gaze, to be laundered back as and when considered expedient.
  1. Consumerism is sin till the last man receives just treatment, and is well provided for to live as a human being. Human beings must not be treated as commodities for trade.
  1. As planning and market help economic management, these tools be used, but under the critical gaze and supervision of the State ensuring public accountability. The real questions pertain to what sort of Market, and what sort of State (or government) we must have.
  1. The State preserves the sovereign space of socio-economic management free from the imperialistic, crypto-imperialistic, and the neo-liberal gladiators and intruders.
  1. The government, which is no more than people’s agent, must be under effective popular control and accountability. There must be a system to enforce continuous accountability of all the organs of the State to our people.

(e) Attitudes towards ‘PROPERTY’ under our ‘Constitutional Socialism’

The framers of Constitution had inherited the tradition of our culture which had developed a very mature and discreet view about property. The Western thinking about ‘property’ oscillates between two extremes : the rejection of ‘property’, as we get in the thought of Jesus; and the greedy attachment to property as we see amongst the neoliberals of our day. Even those who strove to further only their ‘enlightened self-interests’, promote, in effect, only their selfish interests. The history of our culture shows that we never looked down upon wealth. Under our pantheon the deity representing ‘wealth’ is Goddess Laxmi. You will find nowhere in our culture anything going near to Mathew (6.24) which says:“You cannot serve God and mammon”.The Bhagavad-Gita (III.20) requires everyone to work for public benefit (Lokasamgraha). ‘The words ‘welfare of a nation’ have been used in the same sense in the Manu Smriti (7.44). In the light of what I learnt about our cultural tradition I would spell out the two distinct ways of working, and earning wealth, in the following tabular form,

Subject Relation inter se Subject & Object Vector and dynamice Object
The unwise Working with ‘attachment’ to the fruits of work With a sense of full involvement to further one’s desires Work for own welfare
The wise Working with a sense of duty With a sense of full involvement in one’s kartavya-karma (duty) Lokasamgraha (which involves the welfare of all, humans, animals and environment)

(f) The criticism of our Constitution’s ‘socialist mission’ is unwarranted

I was surprised when a Writ Petition against insertion of the word ‘socialism’ was filed before our Supreme Court [ Good Governance India Foundation v. Union of India [W.P.(C.) No. 679 of 2007] on the ground that Section 2(a) of the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976 violated of the basic structure of the Constitution. I preferred before the Supreme Court my ‘Intervention Petition’. It was good that the Supreme Court saw no good reasons to proceed with the Writ Petition.

It was surprising to find Justice B.N. Srikrishna, who spoke for the Supreme Court in Azadi Bachao Andolan16, suggested in his article, while still on the Bench, that the era, when the ‘Preamble’ of our Constitution mattered, had gone ‘due to the liberalization policy adopted by the Central Government from the early nineties’. He even quoted the dictum of Sinha, J. (dissenting) in State of Punjab v. Devans Modern Breweries Ltd., who had shocked us by observing:

“Socialism might have been a catchword from our history. It may be present in the preamble of our Constitution. However, due to the liberalisation policy adopted by the Central Government from the early nineties, this view that the Indian society is essentially wedded to socialism is definitely withering away.”

But Good Governance had raised an important point which deserves to be considered by the Election Commission of India. When it registers political

parties only when they swear by ‘socialism’, as required by Section 29A(5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, it becomes its duty to derecognize the political parties which “have wrongly sworn allegiance to the socialist ideal despite their contrary objectives as evident from Manifestoes, political speeches, Common Minimum Programmes and other such documents.” If the Election Commission finds later that the declaration by a political party was fraudulent, it must cancel the registration granted to it. As the Election Commission grants certain statutory benefit, it has an inherent power to withdraw that grant on good grounds. Besides, there should be no reason why this Commission cannot reconsider the permission granted to political parties if there is a culpable hiatus between their sworn statements and their public acts.

Shiva Kant Jha’s ON THE LOOM OF TIME The Portrait of My Life and Times Chapt. 20 at pp. 286- 294

Quote 13: People’s right to revolt

Moments come when it becomes duty to change the apparatus of power through a revolution. The Srimad Bhagavad Mahapurana tells us the story of the destruction of King Vena as he had ignored his people’s welfare because of his inordinate greed. Krishna killed several demonic kings including Kamsa, Jarasandha and Bhomasura. Such stories are in the Mahapurana and also in the Mahabharata. In this epic the great Bhishma bewails why he did not revolt against Duryodhana which might have compelled him to desist from the ahabharata War. It is a crime to see wrong being done, yet to keep silence. The poet ‘Dinkar’ describes Bhishma’s agony in these words:

(If I would have raised even the seditious flag and given a clarion call, if I, in the cause of Justice, could have challenged Duryodhana then itself, perhaps, our land, Bharat, might not have faced this saddest day.)

Most of us suffer from similar agony. Whittier said:

For all sad of tongues or pen
The saddest are these: ‘It might have been’.

But this struggle against a tyranny can be done in several ways: Krishna adopted one, Jesus another, and Gandhi still another: the category of inventiveness is never closed.

Shiva Kant Jha’s ON THE LOOM OF TIME The Portrait of My Life and Times Chapt. 20 at pp. 281-282