‘Don’t talk ill of the dead’ has become a cliche that it has lost all sense. The depth of this statement could be understood only when dragged through situations in life.
When we talk ill of the dead, we are sitting on judgement on what the previous generations had done, from the comfort of the present, which itself has been built on the labour, resources and efforts of the preceding generations.
Let us leave the moral right and concentrate as to whether we could have done differently had we been the persons in charge in that point of the past, which we have dared to judge.
In India, since 1947 we have had native Indians Rule us, and from 1950 onwards, rather 1952 onwards, we have had the Parliament to make laws relating to List 1 of the Seventh Schedule and in some cases the List 3 also. Therefore, the electorate then were our forefathers who had delegated the job to the then Members of Parliament, which formed the government and ran the policies relating to the executive action and legislative actions. Now that we have a Parliament and we have elected our Legislators, have they performed better than their predecessors? Only history could tell, when we get the benefit of hindsight to see the graph in the cold settings of historical assessment. But are we any the better? Are we Mentally racing towards a nostalgic past or are we racing towards a hopeful future? If the answer is the former, we are NOT doing great. It simply means we are endeavouring to build a reminiscent Past in our Future. A repeat rather a relapse to a supposed Past, in which we never participated but merely imagined in parts by the imaginative and purveyed as a fact to the gullible present day population. Let us get out of this. Let us build a future – a Future in the future with the yardstick of health for all, happiness for all, Work for all, Rights for all based on a fair Order of the society- not merely tolerant and creepingly acquisitive, but giving space and holding on to one’s own space with the dignity of institutionalised Rights and God given Liberties.
Are we competent to judge the then fledgling country run by those who had been mandated to run the country? Who gave us the right to question them?
One of the cardinal principles in law making is: No legislative laws binding the succeeding legislative bodies could be enacted by taking away the sovereign powers of any succeeding Legislature. Which means that the laws made by any preceding legislature could be repealed and new law enacted by amending, abrogating or even leaving unregulated that subject.
The courtesy that we owe to our preceding legislatures and the persons who ran the government then, is not merely a courtesy but respect to the Sovereign power the Constitution vested then with. The same constitution has vested the present legislatures with similar sovereign powers. It is that reciprocity which is to be appreciated. The will of the people then, was fulfilled through that legislature then, and the present will is to be fulfilled NOW by the present legislature.
However, academically we could speculate as to whether a decision taken then, had it been different, would it have resulted in better results so that such mistakes could be avoided.
But such speculation by a Legislator or even the electorate, to malign our forebears, is the false confidence of a Bradford millionaire who has forgotten the days of his penury, and had forgotten that he, like what Newton said, was merely sitting on the shoulders of a giant past. That indelible Past has given so much that the persons who dare to talk contumely should show understanding and modesty and be humbled that there is order established, institutions raised and fostered, the supremacy of the Legislatures have been left intact – unlike some of our neighbours.
Another point is, the troubles that we face today is not any more difficult than the troubles faced by our forefathers. That’s what covid 19 has made this generation realise.
We are no less afraid than those who dreaded the bubonic plague, the Great Depression or even the World wars. The GE Engines and Rolls Royce engines fitted to the aircrafts are all rusting; the wet leases and dry leases are languishing without returns; EMIs are being defaulted and force majeure clauses are being contemplated for enforcement. We stand deflated – the future does not something to be built on, but to be repaired and reconstructed. It is no more growth from where we were before covid, but rebuilding our economy, institutions and the general well- being of the people to those pre-Covid levels. Thriving has made way for mere Survival.
A new world Order is being born, in which Humility, compassion and fairness are not the ingredients in our sporadic personal interactions with other humans but institutions will have to be built to be humble, compassionate and fair to every human being similarly placed. That is the norm to be desired and worked towards. Episodic goodness is out and institutionalised goodness is to be brought in without whittling the Rights and Liberties of individuals.
Let us stop this business of writing false histories through our WhatsApp messages without knowing the liabilities under which our forefathers strained. In fact it is against the general nature of goodness of Indians to talk ill of the Dead – definitely not because they are not there to defend themselves but because we just do not know what they went through to get us here – this far.