The other day, Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration, as Congress would call it, was awarded to Carnatic musician T.M. Krishna. The award is advertised to be given annually to distinguish persons/institutions for promoting national integration and understanding and fellowship amongst religious groups, communities, ethnic groups, cultures, languages and traditions of India and strengthening, through thought and action of the nation’s sense of solidarity.
It is hard to find objective reasoning on how Mr. Krishna by choosing to sing, or not to, at certain venues was bolstering national integrity and not deepening the caste-divide. Obviously enough, Mr. Gandhi who read out his mother’s speech in her absence also couldn’t annotate more than, “Krishna’s engagement with the artistic scene has converged with his parallel reflections on the state of our society”, an ornamental statement which practically doesn’t make any sense. All of these are inconsequential as this was nothing more than a bonafide Congress party business to commemorate one of its leaders.
But the speech read out by Mr. Gandhi at the event has some intrinsic inanities that warrant little intellectual discourse. In it Mr. Gandhi said the “idea of India that Indira Gandhi fought for has been thrown fundamentally into question by the rising intolerance that we are witnessing today.” It is baffling what exactly was the idea of India that Indira Gandhi stood and fought for which is being challenged. What are the “liberal, tolerant Indian ethos Indira Gandhi embodied in her life that are being openly rejected and repudiated”? Was he subtly mentioning the Louis XIV idea of ‘I’m the State’ which Ms. Gandhi manifestly stood and fought for in the 21-month period from 1975 to 1977? Or was he mentioning the bombing she ordered on her own countrymen in 1966?
That being ambiguous, he proceeds to express his agony on the challenge raised by alternative to Indira Gandhi’s idea of India in one part of the speech and later contradicts himself by alleging that the “view of Indianness is becoming one-sided, discriminatory and warped”. Thus by this paradoxical read-out speech he explicates that Indianness can’t be one-sided if it is other-sided but it essentially should be one-sided, which is ‘Indianness as thought by Indira’. The man himself while reiterating the need to protect Right to Dissent is vehemently disapproving the claim for the same by his political opposition. Mr. Gandhi ends the equivocal oration by targeting ruling dispensation by alleging of it “stifling independent thinking” while innately failing to realize that he himself was critical, all through, of the rise of independent thinking which posed a challenge to “idea of India that Indira Gandhi fought for”. Public remain amused by the evident dichotomy of disguised political bigotry inherent in Congress.