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Morality play

india Updated: Dec 30, 2010 23:34 IST
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There has always been a fine line dividing immorality and illegality. Just ask those who want a book or a film banned. But like all alkalis are bases while not all bases are alkalis, all illegal acts are immoral, but not all im-moral acts are illegal. This fine distinction was underlined by BJP president Nitin Gadkari when he commented on the charge against Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa of allotting government land to his family members at throwaway prices.

Of course, Mr Gadkari’s defence of his partyman is well within the realms of morality. Some may even see it as being noble, an act quite opposite of what many accuse Vibhishan to have committed when the character from the Ramayana switched sides, leaving his brother Ravan in the lurch to team up on the side of the good embodied in Ram. But then, there will be those like us who may see Mr Gadkari’s theologically inclined point to be covering one’s own party’s derrière. If one takes out this ‘immoral but not illegal’ arrow from the quiver of defensive weaponry, one could apply it to many things that could be bothering the BJP, including the yet-to-be proved accusations against former UPA telecom minister A Raja.

In India, very few cases seem to be deemed as ‘illegal’. This isn’t always because there are brilliant defence lawyers who are able to convince a court that a mass murderer still carrying a wet axe in his hand is not guilty, but because philosophically we are inclined to see far too many things in ‘moral-immoral’ terms. Where does the legal-illegal business come into all this? In most cases, it doesn't. Moral of the story: everything is maya.

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