The Disease of Blind Imitation

Duties First, Rights Next

Graciousness has dwindled among our people. In this era of machines, in the West, what Maine called “rights and duties” have come up for repeated discussion. The Italian patriot, Mazzini says, “because transactional aspirations and goals have become powerful of late, the notion of duty has disappeared and rights have occupied prominence.” Today, we have forgotten duty, and we are placing greater emphasis on the path of rights. This is not the path of safety, this is not the path of Dharma.

There is a great work that Bharatavarsha has to do in this world. It is an urgent need to perform work that is useful to the entire humanity. Think about duties first, let rights come later. Let the universal truth come first. Let the apparent or visible truth come later. Let the first place be given to human affection and peace. India has to first show the importance of this principle through its behaviour. It should be reflected in her action.

Humanity is Important

The world belongs to the youngest generation. If conflicts arise, we must not remain passive. If an evil eye is cast, if a disgusting action is carried out, we must have the guts to say, “this is wrong.” It is our duty to protect the honour of all people. If a clash erupts in town, we must take responsibility for protection in the name of humanity. Nobody should attempt to take lives or cause physical injury; however, protection is a must. Nobody should try to take the life or honour of a person.

If conflicts arise, try to investigate it using reason, go on a quest of truth. If you don’t like the final decision, try to bear the outcome with equanimity and launch another attempt. Never give up trying. Try to stop injustice and untruth. Nobody can say with hundred percent certainty that you will obtain victory. It is not important to preserve rights at the cost of losing your humanity. This is the key principle.

Now, the point we need to think about relates to national unity: that is, how to strengthen our national unity with our efforts.

Unitary Government is an Impossibility   

An important point arises in this context. If India is one country, why do we need numerous states representing different regions? Why can’t we have a unitary government for the entire nation in all matters?

This is a very big topic. But we must keep in mind some fundamental points.

1.    The Indian nation is very large and vast. In terms of size, it is equal to eight or ten separate countries. It is extremely difficult for any government to run such a large country as a unified whole.

2.    In this vast geography, there exist huge diversity in matters like the nature of soil, air, water, mines and other natural resources. Malnad is different, the plains are different. Every region has its uniqueness. Therefore, the service that the Government should render to each region differs intrinsically.

3.    Likewise, the temperament and social customs and traditions of people are different in different regions. It is owing to these differences in social and cultural circumstances that the government’s policies are different for different regions.  

4.    More importantly, the government’s age-old policies are also different in different places. The chief point is this: India is an ancient country. Our states did not emerge newly. We did not establish a government for the first time now. States and systems of government have been in existence for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Although many Hindu States were destroyed, and vanished many years before Independence, the administrative systems and conventions that were in practice have continued to remain. It is not possible to completely erase them in a matter of one or two days because these conventions and customs have taken deep roots in the minds of the people. It is not possible to change people’s minds overnight just by writing a new law. People who are accustomed to age-old customs and conventions will naturally find it difficult to adjust to new and sudden changes. They find it far easier to be in tune with what they have been used to for such a long time. Thus, because regional customs and laws are different, it is but logical to have separate governments in the states.

Two-Tiered Government

In this manner, the Government should be akin to a two-storeyed building. The ground floor is a vast hall. The first floor comprises ten or twenty rooms. The undivided single hall on the ground floor is the central government. The first floor comprises the state governments therein. The ten or twenty rooms on the first floor must not damage the integrity of the foundational temple below. The building on the ground floor must remain united and impenetrable without cracks, without obstructions, without divisions. Only this will guarantee the safety of the rooms on the first floor.

This system of government is known as the Federal system in English. However, we must use such English terminology with great caution. It does not apply to our situation when used in a frivolous manner. Numerous undercurrents and cultural specifics are enmeshed in such technical terminology.  In turn, each undercurrent has its own circumstance and a specific meaning related to that circumstance. These circumstances arise owing to the social and political history of those people, and are different for different countries. If India’s social and political history has no such circumstance, it might prove dangerous for us to follow that system. Thus, using a technical term or idiom that originated in a different country for our purposes may prove lethal for our psyche and cause delusions.

The Disease of Imitation

In this occasion, it is relevant to make a criticism. The disease of blind imitation has become widespread in our country. After a country becomes independent, it must cultivate an outlook of independent wisdom. But what has happened? When we are faced with a problem, this is the typical mentality of our great leaders: “Oh! But the Russians do this. Why don’t we follow them?” “Why don’t we adopt the method of Americans?” “Germany! That is a good model to follow!” “Look at France! That’s a good approach.” We must evolve our own solutions for our problems and bottlenecks—somehow, this fundamental truth is yet to strike the brains of our leaders.

To be continued



Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.



Sandeep Balakrishna is a writer, author, translator, and socio-political-cultural analyst. He is the author of "Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore" and "The Madurai Sultanate: A Concise History." He translated Dr. S L Bhyrappa's magnum opus "Avarana" into English.

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