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Home > 2022 > Kartavya Path: Forget about your rights | Faraz Ahmad

Mainstream, VOL 60 No 38 September 10, 2022

Kartavya Path: Forget about your rights | Faraz Ahmad

Friday 9 September 2022, by Faraz Ahmad

It is now crystal clear that there are only two things that motivate Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi to act. One, the desire to suppress the citizens, not Muslims alone under the heavy spiked boots of his alma mater the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with all its widely spread tentacles all around the country and even across the seas. Second, to obliterate each and every achievement of the Nation under primarily the Congress party which like any Swaymsevak pracharak he should be resenting from the depths of his heart.

But not just the Congress party, even others’ work including by his party leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee who ruled India for more than six years of the 70 years that it took the Sangh to come to rule unhindered and impose its cherished agenda under Modi’s leadership, is something that a Sanghi pracharak looks at with disapproval and disdain.

When the British built New Delhi in the 1930s together with the Viceregal Lodge and the North and South Blocks of the Secretariat on either flanks of the Viceroy’s palace, on the Raisina Hill and down below bungalows for the ‘Bada sahebs’ of British Raj, extending far and wide better known to us as the Lutyen’s bungalow zone, they termed the road from Raisina Hill to the War memorial India Gate, the Kingsway. Naturally it could not be called Vice way for the Viceroy was only holding the fort on behalf of the King of England. The main thoroughfare perpendicular to Kingsway leading directly to the main shopping centre they developed, and named Connaught Place, was the Queensway.

After independence we Indians renamed the Viceregal Lodge as the Rashtrapati Bhawan to house our first citizen, the Rashtrapati. The Kingsway was renamed as Rajpath because it led to the Secretariat where all administrative functions, which we called in our colloquial language ‘Raj, Kaj’ were performed in those two buildings. That is why the Kingsway was renamed Rajpath. Not because the first President of India Dr. Rajendra Prasad who lived there, started considering himself as some Raja or monarch. And least of all the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru who lived quite a distance from there at what was built for the Commander in chief of the Armed Forces under British command. This too was renamed as Teen Murti Bhawan after the statues of three soldiers adorned the round about outside the Teen Murti Bhawan, as they do till date, with no Raj hangover.

The Queensway became Janpath for it led to the main shopping arcade visited every day by the entire Janata, meaning the commoners and the VIPs. This is to underline that the names Rajpath and Janpath were given after giving some thought by we Indians. The first government of independent India which included Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the founder of Jana Sangh, the earlier avatar of the present day BJP, were men who actually took their duties seriously. They did not have to flaunt it by renaming Rajpath as Kartavya Path. Each one of them was committed to his ‘kartavya’.

The Central secretariat could barely accommodate the offices of the ever-expanding government of independent India so just below on what was later named Rafi Marg, after freedom fighter Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, the builders of modern India built Rail Bhawan, Vayu Bhawan, Udyog Bhawan, Krishi Bhawan one by one to accommodate the offices of Railway ministry, Air Force headquarters, Industry, and Agriculture and related ministries. Further down on Rafi Marg came up the Shram Shakti Bhawan, signifying that in modern India Shakti came from acknowledging and saluting the power of labour, the worker. And adjoining it the new building to house the scientists, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The last building on Rafi Marg was the Planning Commission, the dream project of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, whose statue Modi put up under the canopy where once was the statue of King George the fifth, now lying in the desolate Coronation Park miles away from India Gate. But while the modern India rejected King George’s statue, Modi had an aversion to Planning Commission, conceived originally by Netaji and soon after assuming office in 2014, he dismantled it and replaced it with Niti Ayog, keeping ambiguous its purpose.

The distinction and regard the truly nationalist government accorded to the workers who were busy building new India, reminds me of a very old Hindi movie I saw in my early childhood and had only a faint memory off. Then thanks to You Tube, I watched that movie again in recent past, It had a memorable song, sung by a chorus led by Madhubala, “Mehnat Kash Insan Jaag utha, lo dharti ke bhaag jage… har khel hai sara mehnat ka, saccha hai sahara mehnat ka’…(The Labouring People Have Woken up and Risen ...) A thoroughly inspiring song written by Shailendra with music by the legendary S.D.Burman.

It is worth mentioning for the manner in which the makers of modern India were building the Nation, giving due accord to the worker without whose ready cooperation such marvellous progress was not possible. On the other hand, Modi’s India is constantly working 24 hours, 365 days to curtail workers’ rights through his new draconian pro-employer labour laws; to suppress human rights; freedom of expression; freedom of speech (of only its opponents); freedom of equality before law; freedom of religion and every citizen’s right the Indian Constitution granted We the People after working assiduously for three long years; to terrorise the people and eliminate political opponents, blatantly misusing institutions like the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax department. While renaming Rajpath as Kartavya Path the Prime Minister described his act as removing the last vestiges of slavery. How was the Rajpath a vestige of slavery, only he or his troll army can explain. It is beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals. He said “We have to remove each and every vestige of British raj”. And what has he removed? The Amar Jawan Jyoti from India Gate which was ostensibly shifted to the National War Memorial away from the common visitors’ gaze who visit India Gate by hundreds and thousands every day. The Amar Jawan Jyoti was dedicated to our heroic soldiers who won the 1971 war, liberating Bangla Desh along with Mukti Bahini of then East Pakistan. But then on seeing that memorial to our brave jawans, the people would be reminded again and again of the remarkable achievement of Indira Gandhi, which Modi and his regime refuses to acknowledge. Ironically, following this big tamasha Modi government announced official mourning and flying the Indian flag at half-mast on Sunday, September 11 for the death of Queen Elizabeth II. I have nothing against that mourning, except when it is effected by a leader who claimed just a few hours before to have “removed the last vestiges of slavery.”

But, as rightly illustrated by Delhi university professor Apoorvanand, the whole exercise on September 8 and even earlier is to impress upon the citizen of his ‘kartavaya’ while trampling upon his rights. It made sense for John F. Kennedy to say in his inaugural address after assuming the Presidentship of the United States of America (USA) for he was building public opinion to militarily intervene in Indo-China to contain rise of Communism in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. But Modi’s call for ‘kartavya’ is the war against the rights of the very people who voted him to power.

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