‘Asteya & Aparigraha’


 If we want to consider ourselves on the path of development, then corruption in politics has to be exposed and shamed. Some lessons for Congress and Chidambaram from Dharmic wisdom

P Chidambaram, one of the tallest leaders and veterans of the Congress Party, and one who has donned both hats of Home Minister and Finance Minister, is finally under CBI custody. Understandably, Twitter has gone crazy. Among the many things that are being discussed is how did he and his son Karti manage to cheat the nation of crores of rupees. Also being discussed is how he had got Home Minister Amit Shah fixed in jail during his tenure as a Home Minister and how it is being seen as political vendetta now. In such a country as ours, where Dharma should have been the main discussion, something is missing. We want to tout ourselves as the land of Yoga, but we do not want to discuss some of the most important steps to attain Yoga, Asteya & Aparigraha.
Asteya means to abstain from stealing. It means if something doesn’t belong to you, you have no right to it; you cannot possess that thing by stealing it from someone. When one steals from another, one is causing grave harm to one’s soul. One cannot become arhat – the Worthy One, if one indulges in stealing. Aparigraha basically means that one should not gather more than what one needs. Simple and frugal living is the way to live life. The problem with having more is that one has to do more to maintain it.
It is unbelievable how much we have lost as a country, because of corruption. Ours was always a land of riches and wealth, because even though we did not follow the capitalistic or the socialistic models completely, we did respect hard work, earning money and saving for rainy days. What we never respected was a leader who was corrupt or who earned by stealing. But the years after Independence, especially after Rajiv Gandhi came to power, were the years when corruption became a way of life. It was as if no work could be done without greasing the palms. By this time Indians had lost all self-respect and the common man had almost lost touch with the teachings of his glorious heritage. The leftist ideology was at its peak in the education system and the vicious agenda put forward ensuring the caste divide and the religious divide too had started paying dividends to those with the agenda to impoverish our country. The breakup of the erstwhile USSR and the stories of corruption in that country seemed to have enforced into the minds of the politicians here, that corruption was indeed a way of life all over the world.
But actually the world over, when a politician is corrupt, he or she is exposed by the media there and is hated by the people of that country for having stolen that which could have been used for the betterment of the people there. This is especially true of all the developed nations. It is only in the under-developed nations and nations which are ruled by dictators or communists that corruption is not discussed or shamed or punished. If we want to consider ourselves on the path of development, then corruption in politics has to be exposed and shamed thoroughly, not just because one belong to any political party but because corruption is bad for the nation. It deprives the people of the best facilities due to them, because one (or more) person is amassing the wealth for oneself. I am surprised that despite so much corruption our country still kept hobbling on the path of progress. In fact, the saying, “We prospered not because of the system, but despite the system” makes even more sense now that we are exposed to the extent of corruption during the Congress rule, especially after the 1980s.
The past is the past. We cannot change it. But we can punish those who have looted our country, especially those who claimed to belong to this country but had betrayed Her. The Modi Govt along with the Judiciary has to set an example to the people of this country and send out the message that corruption will not be tolerated henceforth. We also need to set the foundation for teaching of values to our impressionable minds, our children, through our education system itself. The education system which ruined us should now be used to make us aware of our ancient, timeless values and how they can help us and our country progress. Instead of making Yoga just a set of
exercises, Yoga can and should be taught with the principles of Yama and Niyama. The time has come and the time is NOW.
(The writer is a Mumbai-based columnist)