To give meaning to dignity of life, Rahul needs to travel more
Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN, 7 February 2010, 09:03pm IST
Rahul Gandhi made a huge political statement by taking a Mumbai local that loudly chugged through the so-called Sena bastion, silencing the rabid anti north indian roar of old tiger and cubs. The constitutional guarantee of right to travel, settle and work anywhere in India long needed this somewhat daring, though symbolic, step. Rahul Gandhi made a huge political statement by taking a Mumbai local that loudly chugged through the so-called Sena
The Gandhi scion may need to undertake many such journeys if the ruling class wants to assure citizens that there will be no compromise when it comes to their fundamental rights, importance of which was penned beautifully by the Supreme Court in `Maneka Gandhi vs Union of India’ [1978 (1) SCC 248].
The SC had said, “The fundamental rights in Chapter III of the Constitution represents the basic values cherished by the people of this country since Vedic times and they are calculated to protect the dignity of the individual and create conditions in which every human being can develop his personality to the fullest extent.”
In the three decades since this judgment, the top court has time and again highlighted two important issues — dignity of human beings and creation of an atmosphere where each can develop his personality to the fullest extent. To achieve this, it will require much more than symbolic journeys by the political class. But since Rahul’s presence in the battlefields of social and economic inequality appears to stir governments to life, here are some more journeys for him into areas where a sizeable population is silently vegetating in the dark alleys of hopelessness.
The first such journey must take him to the hinterlands of Haryana where the notorious Khap panchayats dish out diktats to snuff out lives of young couples who breach caste barriers and fall in love.
Abolition of the reprehensible caste system appears to have been lost on the members of these caste councils. It would be more than symbolic if Rahul participates in one such Khap panchayat meeting and stands up to oppose the caste blinded village elders, something identical to what he did in Mumbai — belling the big cat in its den.
Then, he can go to Puri along with his friends from different communities to visit the famous Jagannath temple, which is infamous for not allowing anyone except Hindus to enter its precincts.
After having participated in Khap panchayat and visited the Jagannath temple, he can plan spending a few hours at a dalit’s house in any of the villages falling in the naxal hotbeds of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal and Maharashtra. He will learn how governance has not reached the villagers, who for decades have lived in utter deprivation and under the shadow of the gun held by outlaws or the security forces.
The grave fallout of acute economic disparity and caste system was noticed by the SC in the case Waman Rao vs Union of India [1980 (3) SCC 587]. It had said, “The progress in the degeneracy of any nation can be rapid, especially in societies riven by economic disparity and caste barriers.” It reminded, “We embarked upon a constitutional era holding forth promise that we will secure to all citizens justice, social, economic and political, equality of status and opportunity and last but not the least, dignity of the individual.”
Having understood the essence of Waman Rao judgment, Rahul could visit some of the north-eastern states where militancy has forced the closure of schools and left students with no option but to flee to metros to further their studies, resort to drugs or join the cult of gun.
After a tiring journey through a few of the most problematic areas, he could come back to the Capital and take a stroll on the footpath of GB Road to understand the pain of exploitation hidden under the liberally painted pretty faces which for the compulsion of living solicit customers. They alone can tell the shoddy manner in which the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act has worked for the last 54 years.
This is only a symbolic and not an exhaustive itinerary for Rahul given the multitude of socio-economic problems faced by the country.