Abdul Khaliq takes the liberty of replying on PM’s behalf to Kiran Bedi’s draft speech for PM’s Independence Day Speech for BeyondHeadlines
I readily confess that I cannot in any way match Ms. Bedi’s erudition, command of language, grasp of national affairs and certainties on all matters under the sun ( TOI 11.8.2011), but nevertheless I shall try to respond to the best of my ability.
Dear Ms. Bedi, Thank you for the draft speech that you no doubt have composed keeping in mind the larger interests of this country and its people of whose concerns you are the best judge. As stated in your opening sentence, you drafted a speech ‘that this country is eager to hear.’ Some cynics may call it gumption, but I know your deep social concern has prompted you to advise the PM on what to say on this momentous occasion. Of course, with humility, my government and I would like to share some of the credit for bestowing on you and the rest of Anna’s team the responsibility of being actively associated in drafting of legislation which has hitherto been the preserve of the political executive and also for giving you the necessary confidence to believe that you have the panacea for all the ills of this country.
I humbly submit that although I have studied at Cambridge, some of the language you’ve used went way above my head. For instance, you have spoken of Independence Day as a day of ‘immense patriotism.’ Frankly I did not know that the level of patriotism fluctuates according to the occasion. By telling me ‘to ask for redemption,’ did you want me to atone for my guilt at allowing you and your ilk to parade your bureaucratic notions of governance in the full glare of the nation and the media? If that is your intention, I’m heartily sorry for what I did. The cynics cavil at your use of the language but I think there is much to learn from your licentious free prose.
I am indeed grateful to you for enumerating the list of achievements since I last spoke to the nation from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort. However, my innate honesty prevents me from taking credit when it is not due. Against the background of spiralling inflation and unemployment, I would hesitate to affirm that our policies have lifted ‘tens of millions of people above the poverty line’. According to one estimate 70% of our fellow citizens live below the poverty line. I’m heartened by your assertion that the voice of women and dalits is amply heard ,though this would be hotly contested by the cynics who know the ground realities. Most gratifying is your endorsement of privatisation and deregulation of major sectors ‘for better productivity and job creation.’ I also wish to thank you and your team for successfully diverting the Opposition’s attention to a sterile debate on corruption instead of focusing on the more pressing concerns such as inflation, unemployment, plight of farmers, caste and communal discrimination. The cynics unkindly point out that your suggested list of achievements reflects a mindset that does not seek any radical social transformation but only the protection of an upper class utopia.
I am touched by your simple minded remedies for governing this complex country. Your suggestion that all Ministers and bureaucrats should conduct at least two field visits is eminently feasible as also your earth- shaking recommendation for quarterly review of performance. According to you, these measures clubbed with certain good intentions regarding our security, sovereignty etc, would see us ‘reclaim our destiny’, though you have not spelt out what our destiny are. Unfortunately, the cynics point out that your prescription for effective governance is to run the country like a police thana.
It is no surprise that you should suggest that I should announce enactment of ‘ a strong and airtight anti-corruption law,’ which in other words means endorsement of the draft bill of Anna Hazare. Here again the cynics criticize Anna’s Bill for being naive, simple minded and impractical. They claim that Anna’s Bill will not only slow down an already lumbering government machinery but create a new fountainhead of corruption through its proposed terror outfit.
The country is aware of your many accomplishments. Apart from being an ace tennis player and the first woman police officer of the country, you have also won the prestigious Magsaysay Award. Incidentally, is it true that in one of the early drafts of Anna’s Lokpal Bill it was recommended that Magsaysay Award winners should be on the Search committee to select the Jan Lokpal members? Cynics refer to this clause and say that you are a legend in your own mind.
Finally regarding the issue of reading of your prepared speech on August 15th I’m confident that if a referendum on the subject is organized by your team in Chandni Chowk, the vote would be overwhelmingly in favour of mouthing every word of your speech. Unfortunately, the cynics are critical of the draft not only because of the unhappy choice of idiom but also on account of the banal thoughts and questionable facts and hence have recommended that it should be jettisoned. After deep consideration, I have decided to accept the advice of the cynics. Jai Hind!”
(The author,a former civil servant, is Secretary General of Lok Janshakti Party. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)