This I-Day pledge: Fight the demons in us

Last week, a historic session in the Parliament concluded. The Monsoon Session 2016 saw political parties of different hues rising above narrow partisan considerations to pass the momentous constitution amendment bill to allow rolling in of a new tax regime. What does the Goods and Service Tax (GST) contain to propel such a huge support cutting across political lines? This was best explained by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who while intervening the debate on the bill in the Lok Sabha said, “This would end terror.” Addressing the full house, the Prime Minister said, “Have taken a huge step in our pursuit to fight and end tax terrorism. Today, an important move to free the nation from tax terrorism has begun.”

I could not but be impressed with how the Prime Minister juxtaposed terror and fear of tax. Terror may not necessarily be perpetuated by religious bigots and fanatics. Terror is many times perpetuated by the ills in our system - social, political, and economic. The Prime Minister’s reference to the introduction of GST as end of tax terror seemed to be inspired by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.

Tagore many years ago wrote a prayer for the nation. He prayed: “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high/ Where knowledge is free/ Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls/ Where words come out from the depth of truth/ Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection/ Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit/ Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action/ Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

On this Independence Day, I recall Tagore’s prayer as we must identify the demons within us and overcome them, so that “our mind is without fear”. As a public figure, my objective is to work for public good. This should not be restrained by the narrow walls of political rivalries and petty considerations.

As Tagore said, “the world should not be broken into fragments by narrow domestic walls, we should fight the demons of political rivalries to work towards a common good. The cause of national good made the political parties come together to vote in unison for the passage of the GST Bill. It is desirable to have replication of similar cooperation between political parties at the state levels too.

How would that happen? The answer lies in the initiative taken and the patience by the NDA government to get all the parties on board. The Centre had the option of bypassing the reservations expressed by the opposition by summoning a joint session of parliament, where the NDA would have prevailed by the virtue of sheer numbers. But that was not the goal. 

The goal, as per the Prime Minister, was generating consensus towards a national goal. He said, “This can’t be seen as a victory of a party or government, it is a win for the democratic ethos of India and a victory for everyone. GST means a Great Step by Team India, Great Step towards Transformation, Great Step towards Transparency.”

He concluded his speech saying, “Even in the best of democracies, sometimes it’s difficult to pass finance Bills. But today, we pass this in one voice, we pass this together. It is our democracy and maturity of political leaders in India that we have been able to do this.”

The message is to rise above our petty personal egos and work as a team despite political difference to transform our society into one which can be identified as transparent and oriented towards public good. Tagore prayed, “Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection/ Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit” The dead habits are venomous attitude towards political rivals, the constant desire to belittle him. The perfection is to strive towards a society which is free of such venom.

As the nation celebrates its 70th anniversary of Freedom, the task before us could be to overcome our personal frailties, to fight the demons with us. This is necessary as these demons are a drag on our personality and a nation inhabited by such citizens could only get regressive in nature. 

As we chant Vande Mataram this I-Day, let us take the pledge to free it of the demons within us.

(The writer is General Secretary, Delhi State BJP. Views expressed are strictly personal.)
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