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   Professor Arindam Chaudhuri
Professor Arindam Chaudhuri
[Chief Editor - 'The Sunday Indian']
[Mar 2006]

Part-A : Dear Mr. Prime Minister, Rang De Basanti is a hit; But It's you who can help the generation awaken!

"We are useless souls and worth nothing. We can do nothing!" cries Aamir Khan, in one of the most touching and defining moments in Rang De Basanti, as he comes back to Alice Patten after witnessing his friends being beaten up ruthlessly during a peace protest. As the unbreakable Aamir breaks down, with him breaks down everyone in the audience; as much for the emotion of the moment as because of the helplessness each one has witnessed in their lives at one point of time or the other, when their blood boiled against some prevalent injustice in society. With that one scene, Director Rakeysh Mehra touches the most important chord with the audiences and emerges a champion; and Rang De Basanti becomes a landmark in Hindi film history.

While we all have seen injustice in various forms aroundDear Prime Minister us, such is India's democracy that it so often has left us helpless, frustrated and feeling exactly the way Aamir feels (fortunately, most of us don't think of doing what Rakeysh Mehra had to make his protagonists do for the need of a dramatic and conclusive climax to the film - the only place the film fails philosophically; though cinematically, it works as wonderfully as the rest of the film). We come out of the film feeling good, but at the same time still clueless - knowing fully well that the solution is not for us to imitate. But then, rarely has a film been able to awaken a generation. The bigger question then is, what does it take to awaken the generation? And when will the average Indian on the road feel empowered and in control of his destiny? And when will his mind be without fear and his head held high?

The answer lies in health, education and employment security of every Indian citizen, in an environment of a functional judicial system. The realisation has to dawn upon every Indian that having access to health security gives him a right to live. Having access to education and employment security enhances his 'right to live' to a 'right to living with dignity'. And perhaps most importantly, having a functional judiciary helps him live with a mind without fear and with his head held high. That is when mothers and friends of numerous MIG crash victims will get justice - only and only when we have a functional judiciary. Personally, it frustrates me no end to see the lack of any concentrated voice being raised against our snail-paced, almost paralysed, and therefore, practically dysfunctional judiciary. To make the judiciary 'practically' functional, we need to increase our courts and judges many fold.

Till our judicial system starts meting out justice, we shall very often find criminals even inside our parliament; while having innocent undertrials languishing inside our jails (for much longer than even the duration of the punishment they would have got if they had been convicted). Till our judicial system starts functioning, there will be numerous DJs (Aamir's name in the film) in our country waiting to take the wrong route... and LOSE CONTROL! At the cost of upsetting scores of criminal & semi-criminal politicians, we hope Mr. Prime Minister, you would address this most pressing need very soon and help this country achieve a civilised nation status by providing it a functional judiciary. A new generation will then awaken with minds without fear and heads held high!

Part-B : Criminals: The real beneficiaries of our judicial system... Businessmen (MG1 and others): The ones penalized

My student Shayan Munshi saw the Jessica Lall murder in front of his eyes. Did he tell the truth in the court? Your guess is as good as mine. The big question is not if he told the truth; the big question that he, his father and his family had to answer was (and all of us should try to answer) - did the country provide them a judicial climate to be honest and truthful? Well, the answer is no... So, what about justice in India?? Well, some other day; maybe some hundred years later; and in this land of an almost paralysed judiciary where truth will always get buried, the beneficiaries are criminals! Well, almost always. They go scot-free and swarm our streets, while the innocent lives in fear of his daughter being shot or tandoored... and then, of course, our courts take over and put the hapless father actually in a tandoor - for twenty years till the justice is (not) delivered. And the actual culprit almost invariably gets scot free - especially when politically connected. And most criminals interestingly are either politically connected or politicians themselves! So, what about judicial reforms??? Well, that's the last priority for all politicians because this paralysed judiciary serves their interests. They are the real beneficiaries of our judicial system.

And the unfortunate fact is that there is no democracy without judiciary. Well, that makes it clear. We live in a country where democracy is a complete farce, however much anyone sings artificial praises of a democracy called India. Who then is being penalised the most in this pseudo-democracy? Well, arguably the business community. They are the favourite exploitees of the political community and the bureaucrats. When the election time comes, the business community has to pay up to help politicians secure a seat. For every step business people contemplate, laws have been made in a manner that they have to break them to breathe, or else pay a bribe, which finally reaches a politician. The business community is made to look like the worst community in this country. They work the hardest, they create employment, they help this country grow and run despite the government, but this country never pays respect to them. Ironically, their misfortunes & losses are something the country gloats about - after all, these "businessmen" are constantly exploiting everyone else, aren't they? There is no proper government recognition for the business community - easily gauged by the number of Bharat Ratnas that have gone to businessmen. They are the ones who are most hounded by all kinds of law enforcers and they are ones who are made to look like big scamsters & cheats. They are branded as tax evaders (and shown in government ads as the ones who should be questioned by their children).

And they are the ones whose buildings can be demolished most cruelly and ruthlessly (without questioning how was it allowed at the first place if it was illegal, and what happens to those who allowed them to come up, and how can running businesses be uprooted without providing alternatives) without sparing a thought about their hard earned money, the number of people they are employing et al and without worrying where do they go from here. Making them homeless perhaps gives a special sadistic kick - after all, they are seen in Page 3 parties, aren't they? All their contribution is relegated to nothing in one go because they party! Unfortunately, even now in India (and not only in West Bengal), it's wrong to earn money. Worse is to enjoy it. One still has to be guilty of being a successful entrepreneur in India. Because there is no sympathy for MG1 or MG2 entrepreneurs. They are simply branded as Page 3 rich vandals who have now learnt a lesson. But unfortunately, till criminals enjoy the fruits of our judiciary, and businessmen keep getting penalised, this country will remain a regressive democratic farce as well as a hypocritical globalising farce.

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