Our ‘King’s Speech’

via http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/indus-calling/entry/our-king-s-speech published on March 12, 2011
Tarun Vijay

If you haven’t seen “King’s Speech”, the movie that won four Oscars, please do so, whenever you can get a chance. It’s a great story of a head of state who would go to any length to prove worthy to his subjects’ expectations. He was not the Prime Minister, and could have chosen to live a comfortable royal life without caring what his people thought about him. He was not supposedly accountable for his day-to-day affairs and it was up to him to decide whether he would overcome the disability he had or just live with it ignoring sentiments of masses. The story revolves around his disability of stammering. At the beginning of war, he was supposed to address the nation. People naturally think he is the source of strength to them and so he decides that he just can’t afford to make people, his nation’s citizens, lose faith in him.

And surely, he does everything possible to rise in the public eye. And in the eyes of his family.

 Watching the entire movie, I was sad and reflected on the kings and queens we have, in a supposedly democratic country, who give a damn to standing truthful in the public esteem and hardly ever care to value people’s expectations from them.

 The man, our own king, being the chief executive officer of the government, admitted in Jammu last week that he takes full responsibility for the Thomas’s  appointment as CVC.

 That’s it? Period?

 Just count some of these  issues: 2G, CWG, Adarsh, Antrix-Devas deal, non-availability of artillery guns, faulty purchase of the US’s old helicopters, government unwilling to bring back black money stashed in Swiss banks, curtains on dear Italian Ottavio Quattrocci’s case after his London bank account was unfrozen officially, perhaps  in “honour” of the India’s law-enforcement agencies and red car[pet to Hasan Ali which made Supreme Court to ask- what the hell is going on? All this has happened before the vigilant eyes of our king. Why did he keep a silence? If he is the epitome of all honesty, impeccable integrity, virtuous nobility and above all a disarming humility, where are the principles of good governance and the accountability of the kingship upheld, in this case of the office of India’s CEO? India has witnessed the gravest cases of corruption. The loot of India’s wealth is admitted by event the government. Should the mere admittance of such cases and putting behind bars a few small operators make  the matter end? Who is the main culprit and who has been supposedly misguiding the Prime Minister or putting pressure on him to keep his eyes wide shut on all the wrong-doings around him? I have said many times that I love the man and  trust him, but then shouldn’t he be concerned to keep the dignity and image of his high and exalted office intact in the eyes of people who would like to see a king above all suspicion and also hard on wrong-doers? Serving two terms is no big deal, Lal Bahadur Shastri served less than a quartet of it, but he still remains the most revered Prime Minister we ever had.  It’s not the period, but the quality of governance and the actual life of the man that counts more. Manmohan Singh must act sternly and save the grace before the grace acts harshly on him.

Why no action was even contemplated to be taken till the opposition and the vigilant media made noises?  And for God’s sake, what is the position and stand of Mrs Sonia Gandhi in all these wrong doings? Has she descended on our land from Mars or Venus? Why is she, the source of all power and “tyag”, “tapasya” and “balidan” left without being asked a single question? Have you ever seen a more terrified and “hesitant out of some unknown fear” media and the political leadership?

 In stark contrast to what we are meekly witnessing in our great democracy, three recent examples would do well to keep us informed about how sham our polity and “courageous” media is and how mature and accountable democracies, whether in governance or in academic circles behave.

The first example is related to Japan’s foreign minister Seiji Maehara, who stepped down after it was told to him that the three thousand dollars he received, spread over five years from a 72-year-old restaurant owner naturalised Japanese citizen of Korean origin, were illegal. The restaurant owner didn’t get any benefit by giving Seiji Maehara a “grand” sum of about 1.5 lakh Indian rupees. Still the foreign minister was shown the door.


The second case is about German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg’s resignation. He was the most popular “star” leader, everybody believed he would be the next chancellor after Merkel. But he was found to have plagiarized his university doctorate thesis in 2006, when he had not even entered active politics. Once the facts were known, he was not only stripped of his PhD, but was asked to resign.

 The third case is about corruption in the divine area of British academics, London School of Economics, which is alleged to have accepted 1.5 million pounds in “donation” from the son of Libya’s discredited dictator Gaddafi, who had his PhD approved and awarded by LSE. Not only this, LSE also benefitted from a 2.2-million-pound contract with Libya in the name of training its civil servants. Immediately after the revelations found media attention, LSE’s director, Howard Davies, was made to resign pending an inquiry into the entire episode.

 Nothing is happening that puts a smile on our faces. In Kashmir, the last hope of Kasmiri Hindus going back to their homes in safety and honour further diminished when the nation’s Prime Minister handed over newly built flats to the refugees. He didn’t say a single word to assure that they would be sent back home soon. A leader of the nation chooses the day to hand over flats to those who have been rendered refugees in their own motherland, in an independent nation, celebrating republic days and independence days. Whose republic and whose independence? Did a media so lethargic to Hindu pains notice the irony?

That’s the difference between the speech of a king, which made the best director and actor of our times recreate the saga once more after seven decades and the speech of another king that made us feel further low and hopeless.

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