Riposte to Fayaz Ganie - No, Indians care more about getting food and jobs than abstract freedoms

Markandey Katju
Markandey KatjuSep 18, 2018 | 22:30

Riposte to Fayaz Ganie - No, Indians care more about getting food and jobs than abstract freedoms

I have read Fayaz Ganie's critique on DailyO of my article where I argued that India does not need a new Charter of Freedom. In his rambling dissertation, Ganie does not really provide a cogent response to my assertion that most Indians are not bothered about civil liberties — they only want a stable job and food in their stomachs. He insists that a new Charter of Freedoms is, indeed, necessary, as proposed by Pratap Bhanu Mehta in his article in The Indian Express.


Does this child care more about food or abstract rights? (Photo: Reuters)

I want to pose a simple question to both, Mr Ganie and Mr Mehta: Does freedom mean anything to a man who is hungry, unemployed or homeless?

Poverty has a destructive effect on all rights and freedoms — and in India, poverty is colossal, unemployment is prolific and farmers' distress seems unending. There is also malnourishment and a lack of both, proper healthcare and good education.

So, unless we can find a way of annihilating all of the problems stated above, all talk of a “Charter of Freedom” sounds hollow — it is empty rhetoric.

In his famous State of the Union Address to Congress on January 11, 1944, US President Franklin Roosevelt had proclaimed that America needed a Second Bill of Rights. He said: “We have come to a clear realisation of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men. People who are hungry or out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. These truths are self-evident."

I do not deny the value of freedom.


But to me, all talk of freedom in a poor country seems like a cruel joke on poor, hungry, ill-clothed, ill-educated and homeless people.

We have adopted the system of parliamentary democracy in our country, but over the years, in India, parliamentary democracy has ultimately boiled down to appeasing and appealing to caste and communal vote banks. Casteism and communalism are feudal forces which keep the country backward and poor — but parliamentary democracy further entrenches them.

Simply flags fluttering in the wind, electoral democracy has not given us much. (Photo: Associated Press)

There is really one, and only one, test of the value of any political system — does it raise the standard of living of the masses?

Parliamentary democracy obviously does not. Or, at least, it has not, so far.

So, what is the alternative, and how is it to be achieved?

That is the real question which our patriotic people must address; one which will require all their creativity to resolve.

Last updated: September 18, 2018 | 22:30
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