A memorable month

So many events and anniversaries crowd in at the same time. The twentieth anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition to remind us of the days when India was deeply divided. The poison injected into the political life by the Babri Masjid demolition led to riots in Mumbai, killing scores of Muslims in open daylight with impunity and no redress yet. The Babri poison reached out as far as ten years later in Godhra and the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat where we are still waiting for closure. The CBI has yet again failed to turn up in court to stiffen its case against some well-known personalities but then that may be one kind of closure the powers-that-be want. Infinite delay in punishing the powerful is the hallmark of Indian justice.

It is also the fifty-third anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar, the one personality whose reputation has soared each year as India comes to term with the deepest wound in its social fabric—of Dalit oppression. Bhim Rao Ambedkar fought a long lonely battle to challenge the cosy consensus that Hindu society was tolerant and spiritually rich by ceaselessly pointing out that any society which treated a large part of its people as sub-human had no right to claim philosophical high ground. You cannot believe in Advaita Brahman as the universal essence of all creation and then kick your servant or rape his wife. Ambedkar brought India to the bar of the world court and made it honour universal human rights. There is long way to go yet with Dalits and tribals and of course, women of all castes and all religions. But his was the loud and clear call for equality.

The year 2012 is also sixty years since the first General Elections. Democracy is one of India's greatest achievements and indeed it should be the wonder of the world. Yet, when you see its practitioners at work, as we have in the past week, one despairs. Yes, the topics of FDI in multi-brand retail was debated and voted upon. That is better than the usual hungama and adjournment. The result was predictable and the vote itself unnecessary as the FDI executive decision did not require ratification on the floor of the Parliament. Even so, the debate was not important enough for 30 MPs who failed to register their vote or abstain.

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