Monday, January 30, 2017

Gopal Gandhi flays ‘forcing of anthem’

Times of India‎‎‎: Thiruvananthapuram: Monday, January 30, 2017.
Forcing the national anthem upon citizens would reduce a passionate hymn into a humdrum chant of official line, said Gopal Krishna Gandhi, former Indian civil servant and diplomat and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. He was delivering the second Justice Krishna Iyer memorial lecture organized jointly by Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) and Common Cause here on Sunday.
"Our national anthem is probably one of the greatest anthems in the world and I sing it with full heart. But when I am asked to sing it under an order, I lose the passion," he said.
Calling upon the government to bring political parties under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) laws, Gandhi also said the government's intention to vitalize the cash composition the country could only be considered genuine if it made obligatory for political parties to disclose the identity of their donors. "As per available statistics, Rs 1,14,000 crore has been donated to recognized political parties in India during 2004 to 2015, of which a very small amount has come from known sources. It includes Rs 8,000 crore donated to national parties by unknown sources," he elaborated.
Gandhi said that India was being ruled by fear, distrust and money. "There's a kind of fear to face reality. Lokpal has not become a reality and Whistle Blower Protection Act has not yet been notified. Fear rules in an era of randomization of ministers, digitization of bureaucracy and robotization of diplomats," he said.
Asserting that India with its plurality was to be held together and not to be ruled, he also said that the country could not be dominated by a single ideology or religion.
Among others who took part in the event were politician and activist Prashanth Bhushan, social activist Aruna Roy, founder-director of National Law School Madhava Menon, and the first chief information commissioner of India Wajahat Habibullah.