Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 07, 2014
President Pranab Mukherjee is a political artist.
His address to the nation on the eve of Republic Day, this year, was a triumph of this artistry.
He spoke about political concepts with deftness, used words nimbly. He sketched, drew, brushed, painted thin and painted thick. Let us look at the picture he gave us.
Like all artists, he must have kept others’ examples, other Presidents’ examples, in mind. The valuationally restive Rajendra Prasad spoke with a controlled intensity. The Upanishadically-charged S Radhakrishnan spoke with the detached confidence of wisdom, the thoughtful Zakir Husain’s words came from pure-heartedness, and, in more recent times, a brooding KR Narayanan gave the nation grave, even pained, messages. “Beware”, President Narayanan said, “of the fury of the patient man”.
President Mukherjee introspects no less than these great predecessors of his. And he knows the impact that a President’s ‘open introspections’ can exercise over the country’s mind. And so, in his Republic Day address this year, when he spoke about corruption, about elections, about the dangers of anarchy, he did what he knew was expected of him.
He gave us this proposition: “Corruption is a cancer that erodes democracy”. Who would disagree with that? No one. But anyone and everyone would wonder: Surely corruption does more than that, does worse than that. When it infiltrates the ranks of our bureaucracy, our magistracy, our media, our corporates, our educational system and even the impeccable cloisters of our armed forces with audacity, corruption is gross. It corrodes the core of civilised nationhood — trust.
It undermines faith in all our institutions, those that create governments as well as those that sustain the limbs of society. Corruption mutilates confidence in the fairness of our swaraj. It reduces the accessing of entitlements to a scramble, faith in our Republic to a gamble.
We still have the ‘pure’ in India, though not in politics. We have the clean, even in politics, the not so dirty and the dirty. Then we have in Indian politics those that are worse than the dirty. They are the downright filthy. This is the politico who with the mafiosi’s help pushes drugs, buys and sells illegal arms, mines coal and ore clandestinely, compromises the police and the bureaucracy routinely and can have Right To information activists bumped off.