By Prem Prakash
London: The manner in which the nation gave a send off to its most brilliant soldier son, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw puts us all in shame. Here was a man who secured the biggest surrender post World War II; here was a man who restored the reputation and health of the Indian Army from the mauling it got at the hands of Chinese in 1962; here was a man who served his country well securing her defences.
Field Marshal Manekshaw should have been given a state funeral of which each Indian should have felt proud. It should have been the longest ceremonial procession with the body carried on a gun carriage, not pulled by one Gun, but by scores of them with Gurkha troops leading and following the march with all other formations represented. Those who bungled cannot be forgiven.
The excuse being trotted out is that the Field Marshal's post did not have a place in the Warrant of Precedence. Shame on those who are doling out this excuse. Will the Prime Minister and his entire cabinet offer an apology to the nation for this grave insult inflicted not just on the departed soul, but on the nation itself? Were they not aware that come one day-the Field Marshal would depart. Why was no thought given to this and no advance preparations made? He had been lying ill for a fairly long time. His dues of salary since he was made Field Marshal thirty years ago, were paid to him on his sick bed only as few months ago. No explanation or apology was given for that lapse either.
If we journalists can keep updating the obituaries of these so called political VIPs, there is no reason to forgive them or the bureaucrats who fail in their duty to prepare for such eventualities. Must we only rely on the system of ceremonials and Warrants of Precedence left behind for us by the British rulers?
There was no independent India then, or else those bureaucrats would have certainly applied themselves and prepared a befitting ceremonial for such an eventuality.
This brings me to the question: Are we Indians a race of petty people who are very jealous of the successful amongst us? I would like to be corrected if I am wrong in my belief. India's long history is a witness to this in as much as her epics. Each time the country or any of its myriad kingdoms of the past fell, it was invariably a jealous hand that guided the enemies from within to pull us down.
In the epic Ramayana, Lord Rama goes into fourteen years exile just because one of the queens of his father did not like the idea of him succeeding to the throne. Was this not extreme jealousy on the part of Queen Kaikeyi? The hatred that Duryodhanaersonifies in the Mahabharata is yet another instance of our cultural mores being deep rooted in pettiness?
Is there no way out of all this? Will we as a race never learn to say "well done" to people who do well and rejoice with them? Wherever you turn, you only hear of the strange complaints of "office politics" which in fact is nothing more than each guy working against the other to pull him or her down.
There is a classic story of Indian crabs in a bottle. One of these is trying to reach the top of the bottle. People around get worried in case the crabs get out and start crawling in the room. No way, said someone -- for these are Indian crabs-each is pulling the other down and not letting it go up. Sure enough what looked like an effort to move up was in fact crabs pulling each other down.
Look around and see the state of our general life around today. Two of India's largest industrial houses are in battle because neither likes the other to grow for very personal reasons. It makes little difference to them if in the process the nation becomes a laughing stock abroad.
On a more serious note, look at the state of our Parliamentary democracy. Our multi party system is really not that - it is today no more than few families or coteries controlling each political party. What we have is a sham multi party democracy. Those who "own" and "control" these parties will never permit a genuine leader, a visionary to move up and lead a party. his pettiness towards each other and extreme jealousy pulls India down. Any organisation or area where talent is encouraged, we notice prospers and blooms. Our agricultural research establishments are in poor shape because there are one too many reports of 'office politics' wherein the supervising scientists want all the credit for the work done by others. Space science seems to be doing well for ISRO is said to encourage talent and has a culture for that.
The civil services and the armed forces that the British left behind were said to be talent based. This cannot be said of the civil service of today. The politicians have manipulated it to the extent that, today, it seems each civil servant lives for his own self, and not for the nation, even though the contract for the service is with the President of India.
As for the armed forces, blessed as they are with some highly patriotic people, the rot will set in if politicians and civil servants are allowed to mess around with them. We need to do a lot more to ensure that our armed forces remain the beacon of unity and competence in a sea of pettiness and jealousy. Whether by special dispensation or otherwise, the armed forces need to be insulated from the petty civil servants, who are today no more than the errand boys of the politicians.
Thus, shocked and angry as most of us Indians are at the manner in which India's establishment treated Field Marshal Manekshaw in death, the problem lies at the very root of our culture as a people. Will Indians be ever able to rise above self and rejoice in the success of other fellow Indians? That alone will lead to greater success of India. (ANI.)