New Year-A Harbinger of Change
New Year is just not a calendar but also harbinger of change. Change happens through a revolution which is generally violent. Change can happen through celebration.
Revolutions are not new to India or to humanity.
The 1857 War of Independence in India, was a revolution.
The first half of the 1900s was a successful revolution for independence of India from colonial power. This Indian spirit of revolution spread to other countries of the world and eventually led to the dismantling of the colonial system in other parts of the world too.
Some of the other famous revolutions of the world are the Long March of China, the Bolshevik revolution of Russia, the French Revolution, the American Civil war and many more.
Revolution to Change – Two Ways
Revolutions by nature tend to be violent. Revolutions by nature bring in change.
But revolutions need not be only through bloody acts. Revolutions can also come about through celebrations. How is the possible?
Change can primarily happen through 2 ways,
- Through violent revolutions
- Through celebration
While the 1857 war of independence and many other revolutions of the world were violent, the freedom struggle revolution in India, for freedom from colonial rule, leading to 1947, was by and large, a change through celebration.
People celebrated taking part in the freedom struggle. People celebrated making non violent sacrifices – Satyagraha. People celebrated going to jail.
This method of change through celebration was something new to the colonial mind. It was something they could not handle.
Shivaratri – Celebrating Change
The concept of change through celebration is nothing new to India. Every year, as we celebrate Shivaratri in the month of February-March, the celebrations in the form of a fast, prayers and singing epitomise the aspect of change through celebration. It is the time for the annual rejuvenation of the mind and spirit of an individual. This is discussed in detail in our Book and Film “Understanding Shiva” in the Bharath Gyan Series.
Change through Celebration
This thought of a revolution happening through a celebration is paradoxical to many minds.
For them, revolution has always been bloody. Whereas in the Indian ethos, be it in celebrating Shivaratri or through these above examples, change has been ushered in through celebrations.
Changing not just a corrupt but also a convoluted System
We have in the last few years seen a revolution to remove corruption. A change of not just a law or a bill. This revolution is for a change in the system itself, a system that has not only become corrupt but has also got convoluted.
Such a change in the system cannot occur from within the centre of the system, as it has to be a fundamental change. It has to therefore come from the people, who make up the strength of the system.
Democracy – People’s Strength
Democracy is a governance model built on involvement from the people.
Democracy is not just involving people to elect 540 representatives once every 5 years.
It is the involvement of the people in how they would like their lives to be governed.
The reality today in India is that there is no connect between the Bills being passed to Act and people’s views on them.
Democracy is like a spectrum. Near one end of the spectrum, is the Swiss democracy style wherein every major legislation has to be put to vote through a public referendum.
In India, as in some other countries, while this method is not possible, what is more probable, is a public debate on every major bill by informed people, before it can be passed as an act in the parliament. This is also a part of democracy. It is also one form of democracy. It is well within the norms and spectrum of democracy. It is democracy.
A Look Back At Traditional Law Makers
If we look back through the history of India, before independence, before the colonial rule, India was a prosperous land, not just because of its industrious people and natural wealth but it was prosperous because the land was governed well.
To have been governed well, there would have been norms and rules of governance.
In India before the British, such norms and rules were not fixed by kings, as kings were few and far between.
These norms of governance were fixed by Smritikars, schools of knowledgeable people, who laid down the norms of governance based on the land, its people, its values and that which were conducive and needed for societal living.
The king and the ministers were also subject to these laws.
While in sovereign Europe, the king was above law and made the law, in India, in the Smritis, the king was also subject to the law of the land, even while being the king.
These Smritis, law systems, were time tested governance principles that were successfully implemented, which made the land prosperous enough for it to be repeatedly looted through the ages. This we have discussed in detail in our book “You Turn India” of the Bharath Gyan Series.
Changing with Times
The Smritis however were not cast in stone. Smritis evolved as per the needs of the society and the needs of the times. It was the Smritikars, the leaders and thinkers in society, who had forethought and vision, who strived to keep the society in step with the changing needs with time.
It was the existence of these Smritis which made up the fabric of the land of India, irrespective of the various kingdoms that formed and transformed, the various kings and dynasties that ruled these kingdoms and the various people who lived in these kingdoms. These were the invisible threads that held the people of India together.
In present day world, these Smritikars comprise thinkers, lawyers, sociologists who are the think tanks, so essential to a Democracy, where the Parliament is the Supreme body of Governance, the principles of Governance can however, also be aided by think tanks formed with the new age Smritikars. The precedence comes in the form of the National Advisory Council, NAC, an extra constitutional body.
For, change is the only constant factor of life. For, if we do not recognize this and change, the change will sweep us asunder.
Act for the Change
For this change to happen as a celebration, what is needed is, as Swami Vivekananda said, is to initiate an “aggressive good”.
This aggressive good has to be a people’s effort. For it to be a people’s effort, people have to recognise that they are being affected, collectively and individually. The grave example for this being, as the German thinker Martin Nielmoller said during the time of the Hitler regime,
“First they came for the Jews,
And I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists,
And I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Social Democrats,
And I did not speak out because I was not a Social Democrat.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
And I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then when they came for me,
There was no one left to stand up for me.”
The lesson here is, people have to stand up, when one in their comity is affected. Otherwise when it comes to affect them, there would be nobody to stand up for them.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna expressed His personal standpoint categorically as,
“There is nothing in the 3 worlds that I want for myself.
There is nothing in the 3 worlds that I need to work for.
But if I let myself follow the course of inaction,
So will others follow me.
I shall myself be the cause of degeneracy of the world.”
– Bhagavad Gita 3.21-23
It is in this context, that revolution is action towards celebration of democracy in spirit and in essence!
This change through celebration has to be of the people, by the people, for the people, for their own good and that of their progeny.
A Striking Similarity
Post Independence, India saw yet another revolution, albeit smaller, but a positive step towards development. It was the Jai Jawan Jai Kisan movement, at the clarion call from the then Prime Minister of India, Shri. Lal Bahadur Shastri, to awaken the people to the contribution of the armed forces in providing border security and that of the farmers in providing food cum economic security for the nation.
Lal Bahadur Shastri
The person who leads any revolution should have
- A resolve, stronger than steel.
- An impeccable character
- A cause that touches the hearts of the commoners.
These factors add the spice, the zing, the energy – that special ingredient, to make the revolution, a true celebration and its outcome, a change to be celebrated.