Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Jun 2018 11:20:38

THE idea of Bharat has been highlighted by scholars and thinkers in different ways all the time since time immemorial. Yet, the manner in which former President of India Dr. Pranab Mukherjee and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak Dr. Mohan Bhagwat talked of that idea on a common platform of RSS Officers’ Training Camp (OTC) at Nagpur, made the critical point of unity in diversity differently and most desirably. That the two spokespersons of apparently differing ideologies strike a common cord, proved to be a testimonial to the credibility of Indian democracy. The importance of the event cannot be missed in the given situation in the country -- fraught with a senseless divide which certain elements are creating with much effort to derive a political mileage.

But the nation must thank first the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for inviting Dr. Pranab Mukherjee, immediate past President of India, and a staunch Congressman, to address the participants of the high-level officers’ training camp. And the second thanks must go to Dr. Mukherjee for demonstrating rare political courage and spiritual maturity to accept the invitation. Unmindful of the opposition from his own party and criticism from other so-called secular forces, Dr. Mukherjee seized the opportunity to state his thought-process most clearly without mincing words, but carefully avoiding political references. Obviously, Dr. Mukherjee knew that a good message could be wasted if it was made to ride wrong words. So, he chose his words most carefully, and sent the message across that tolerance was the crux and construct of India’s nationalism expressed so capably through what he wonderfully called “Constitutional patriotism”. Dr. Mukherjee’s straight talk in plain but deeply pre-meditated words made their own impact on the nation at large.

But equally critical was the statement made initially by Dr. Mohan Bhagwat as he highlighted what the RSS stood for -- a collectivism beyond religion. The RSS did not work for only Hindu unity, but worked for the enhancement of collective strength of the nation named Bharat, he said in effect. Dismissing the uncalled for political controversy that accompanied the RSS’ invitation to Dr. Mukherjee and his subsequent acceptance of it, Dr. Bhagwat insisted that the RSS often offered a platform of melding of differing ideas since it has patience to listen to a contrarian view as well. Diversity of India is at the basis of the idea of Bharat, he said.

The most remarkable facet of the grand show of solidarity of India’s democratic identity was that the two leaders who have impacted public discourse of the country for long decades chose to strike a common ground by avoiding the temptation to play a blame-game. They did not point fingers at each other or bragged about the rightness or wrongness of the two distinct and distant end-points of the ideological continuum of Bharat. Their effort created a synergistic spark whose glow would last long, though some overly political elements might wish to discard for petty electoral gains. No matter that, the biggest gain of the event was that the two ideological adversaries showed how a mature democracy operates even in an atmosphere of senseless hostility and antagonism.

One point in Dr. Mukherjee’s statement about the element of rage being demonstrated by some sections of the society, did raise a few eyebrows. For, that was one point perhaps aimed at criticising some statements and actions by one side of the political divide. Factually, however, the charge he made was quite applicable to all the compartments of the ideological arena in the country currently. For, if the Hindu compartment is demonstrating a senseless rage on some counts, then other compartments represented by the Dalits or Muslims or some other communal groups, too, are engaged in a similarly undesirable demonstration of absence of accommodation.
But the smart manner in which Dr. Mukherjee avoided specific references gave him a shield to duck behind. To anybody objecting to the point, Dr. Mukherjee could easily say that his was a universalised statement. His political maturity and spiritual thoughtfulness were apparent in his total conduct that included his short but powerfully delivered speech.

In the given political conundrum of the current moment, the maturity displayed by the RSS and its chief should be appreciated. For, the calm and smiling manner in which the host -- Dr. Mohan Bhagwat -- made his statement should be considered as an epitome of how a point could be made on a democratic platform. His was a longer of the two statements, but was absolutely to the point and with an utmost sense of purpose. He played a perfect host, gave full space to the guest who could have an uncomfortable message to give, and showed the nation how things could be worked out smoothly even in a debate of two apparently clashing thought-processes.

Another most critical gain of the event was that it proved all political ideologues wrong. For, both the sides showed successfully how to organise a qualitative debate marked by respect for the other parties and patience to hear out the differing point of view. If India is to make genuine progress of its democratic collectivism, then more such events need to be organised. And, to add more value to the effort, Parliament, too, should be made to operate on those lines of highest level of accommodation.

To some, this may appear to be a difficult ball-game at this point. But in the very atmosphere in which people are unwilling to listen to the other point of view, Dr. Bhagwat and Dr. Mukherjee have shown a way to make the impossible possible. It might be expecting too much that just one dialogue would be the beginning of end of uncalled for hostility. But this moment must be recorded in history as marking a terrific effort to initiate the process of accommodation.