Dharmo rakshati rakshitah- Response to Modi’s blog on Telangana

Honourable Sir

Yesterday you wrote a detailed blog on the announcement of Telangana. Given the fact that this has come so immediately after the announcement, it appears that you were prepared with your thoughts on this subject for quite sometime, perhaps in preparation for your forthcoming public address at Hyderabad. However, even though the blog has the artificiality of a non spontaneous response, trying to be one, it does attempt to take a holistic view on the entire issue.  More importantly you are perhaps the only politician that has tried to talk to us in a detailed and cogent manner outlining concrete steps that need to be taken. I commend and thank you for this.

Before I respond to certain points made in your blog, I would like to make two interconnected points to outline the context:

i) Dharma:I am sure you are fully aware of our adage: “Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitaha.(Dharma will protect you, only if you protect it). While there is enough commentary on this profound statement, the essence is that if we seek protection under Dharma, it is in turn our bounden duty to protect and sustain Dharma, such that it does not fall into danger. I bring to this to your attention now, to ask of you as a leader of a National party, as a Hindu and as a Nationalist, whether you believe that this act of separation in any manner sustains, nurtures or protects Dharma.

ii) Fundamental Duties: While Dharma is an ethical framework within a socio-cultural context;we are also bound by certain legal duties as Citizens. As you are aware, our obsession with the fundamental or other ‘rights’ we believe to have as citizens has completely overshadowed the feeling that we may also have some fundamental ‘duties’ to our country. Our constitutional authors, it appears also did not deem it necessary to enshrine in our constitution any obligations that we citizens must have as duties. Consequently in our formative years as a nation,there was no discussion about duties we as citizens should have to our country.It did not become part of our national psyche. It was only in 1976 that anamendment was brought about in our Constitution, outlining ten fundamental duties.Even after this amendment, we still continue to be a “rights’ based society and I am yet to hear any recent politician except you, that talks or alludes to the duties we have as citizens. (The other being Obama in his recent acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention). The one fundamental duty that I would like to highlight to you is Clause (e) 51 A of the Indian Constitution: e)  To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious,linguistic and regional or sectional diversities;  Once again, I ask of you as an elected leader of a state and a possible leader of our country,whether in the process of arriving at the decision and terms of the separation we as citizens have fulfilled our duties especially the above cited clause.

I am not getting into the merits of the demand for separate Telangana. Many arguments have been made both for and against the agitation.  I just want to highlight a few facts on the process and the settlement.

a) Non Discussion in the Assembly : After a detailed study of issues relating toTelangana done over more than an year, the report of the Sri Krishna Commissionhas not been discussed in the legislative assembly even once. Independent of the conclusions they have arrived at, they went about their task in adetailed and comprehensive manner looking into all aspects of the demand for a separate statehood. This was a committee constituted by the Government of India. Except for one meeting called immediately after the submission of thereport, not once did any Legislator or member of the Parliament allude to the contents of the report and counter their arguments if they had any. There was no structured discussion, nor was there any attempt made to introduce the same and debate it in the Assembly. There can be nothing more appalling attack on democracy than this. Do you think the legislators have done their fundamental duty as a Citizen of the country let alone as representatives of the people?  (I say citizen, as we all know that MLAs and MPs do not have any obligations or duties outlined in the Constitution.) Have they acted as per the principles of Dharma?

b) By passing the Assembly:  We now hear that the AP legislature does not have any say in the matter and any resolution is only namesake and not a mandatory requirement. Don’t you think that such an important decision about our State should be debated and decided in our Assembly firs ? Is it democratic to decide about a State in the Parliament and not the State assembly? Is by passing the elected people of the state, sustaining Dharma? Would you accept such a decision on Gujarat being imposed upon by the Parliament without the State assembly discussing and approving of the same?  

e) Hyderabad: Last and most importantly, is the issue of Hyderabad. Are you aware of the emotional and financial impact of Hyderabad not being a permanent part of our State? The single most important injustice done is the fact that Hyderabad’s future hasnot been discussed in any Legislative forum. Is it dharmic for people who have settled down here thinking it belonged to them, to be suddenly told they are ‘settlers”?  You feel that it should be a transitory capital and a new capital has to be built. Who is to pay for this? Gujaratis? Rest of India? From where will you provide for this expenditure of creating a new capital? Also a mere construction of a few lakh square feet will not make a capital. You have to transfer all the employees to this new place. Is it fair for them? You know a city is not built with steel and concrete, but with soft infrastructure. With a feeling by its residents of wanting to live and make it their home. Of streets that that they love, of malls, of theaters, of a lifestyle. Is it fair to uproot lakhs of employees from their adopted home and put them amongst alien surrounding? What about their aspirations for an urban life style? Can the new capital replicate the growth that Hyderabad has seen in the last two decades? On a financial level, Hyderabad constitutes 60% of the taxes. How will the new place ever hope to achieve such collections? Do you want the child to be born with a congenital defect? What are the GDP projections of the new state? Has anyone paused to consider? How will it sustain itself? Can you point me to one study or discussion about this? Have you personally understand the financial  and economic implications of the separation before endorsing it? It is all well to state that the smaller towns in AP will be developed. How do you propose to this? Neither can Industry nor Services be a driver in these districts. How much growth can we generate from an already developed agrarian state? Lack of contiguity with Andhra seems to be your consolatory argument. Do you remember that Pakistan itself was born with India separating East and West Pakistan? In these days of mobile and internet connectivity, what is the issue in having a capital that is not contiguous? Lastly for the purpose of their argument in support of a separate statehood, they remove the investments made into Hyderabad from the equation and only talk about the alleged non development of the balance districts but for the purpose of separation, Hyderabad is non negotiable and is an integral part of Telangana ! Is there Dharma in this argument?

Yesterday my friend was telling me that he will shift his registered office to Andhra so that the tax revenues will accrue to Andhra and not Telangana. See what kind of thinking that this decision has spurred. You are creating individuals who have to learn to be adharmic. Of staying in one place and longing for another.

To quote Aristotle ” A good citizen is one, who acts in accordance with the laws of the state. A good man is one who acts in accordance with the principles of virtue. It is likely that on occasion the laws of state may not be in accordance with the principles of virtue. In such situations, the goodman will not act in accordance with them but a good citizen will have to act in accordance with them. In the best state, however, laws will be in accordance with the principles of virtue and so there would be no distinction between a good man and a good citizen.”

In this instance your consciously creating such a dichotomy between the law and the principles of virtue ,that you are posing unwanted moral dilemmas to the citizens.  Is there dharma in such laws?

Some argue about manifestos and statements made under the Common minimum programme,but none of these talk about an automatic decision but one that was to be made after a consensus was reached. No one talked about the importance of Hyderabad and its future. The question that you have to ask yourself is has any consensus been arrived at? Has any attempt been made to arrive at a consensus? Did the people whose lives are affected have any say in this decision? Were they given a choice to say yes or no? Were they heard? Was there a referendum held? Unfortunately the answer is a resounding no. TV panel debates are not a substitute for democracy. You more than anyone should know that.

In all likelihood, you will lead our country from next year. There are enough steps you need to take to cleanse our system. My only request is please do not begin your journey by endorsing a patently Adharmic act. While you have posed several questions to the Congress, BJP is equally to blame for the current situation. To me the state units support to Telangana was as opportunistic as that of Congress.

Lets therefore have the courage to be honest and say, we committed wrong, we failed to perform our duties as the citizens. We have failed to protect Dharma. If not for anything else, it will help us move on and rebuild our State with a clean slate and a clean mind.

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