Long years ago in a galaxy far far away, we made a tryst with destiny. And now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially through one of the many attractive EMI schemes out there.
At the stroke of the midday hour, when the world as we know it toys with the idea of stepping out for a nice, beery Sunday brunch, India will awake to a new topic of heated discussion. A moment comes, which comes regularly in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when interest in a hot talking point — Narendra Modi being invited by the British Parliament, or the Amartya Sen-Jagdish Bhagwati slugfest, or Robert Vadra’s ‘Quadruple your money in 12 months or your money back’ offer — ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.
It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people — that is, ourselves — and to the still larger cause of its politicians.
At the dawn of history India started on her unending quest, and trackless centuries are filled with her striving and the grandeur of her success and her rare failures in trying to evolve a culture where everything is allowed and anything goes. Through good and ill fortune alike she has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave her strength to turn laws and legislators into bendable, pliable dolls. We restart today a period of great fortunes flowing into pockets when India rediscovers her Bollygarchs.
The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future? Freedom and power bring responsibility.
The responsibility of making us not responsible for anything rests upon this assembly. Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of laws, anti-corruption drives and the strange self-righteousness of our judicial system and citizenry and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow.
Some of those pains continue even now with the presence of whistleblowers, upright law enforcers, officials and people mainly outside the establishment who demand that bribes and suitcase-minded power politics become history. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.
That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfill the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the thousands who suffer from being stopped from armtwisting governments with the threat of accusing them of policy paralysis. It means the calibrated control over poverty and ignorance and disease and firming up selective inequality of opportunity.
The ambition of the greatest men of our generation has been to get their hands on every resource from every part of the nation. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are resources and wealth, so long our work will not be over.
And so we have to labour and to work, and work hard, to make dreams appear as reality. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for anyone to imagine that India is no longer a potential global power.
Peace has been said to be divisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is politics in this one world that can no longer be split into banana republics, anarchic democracies and feudal republics.
To the people of India, whose self-appointed representatives and guardians we are, we make an appeal to look the other way with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty criticism. We have to build the noble mansion of freeloaders and carpetbaggers where all their children may dwell.
The appointed day has come — the day appointed by destiny — and India stands forth again, after a short burst of being awake, asleep, yawning, free for the picking and dependent. The past clings on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we have so often taken.
Yet the turning point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history we shall live and act and that the media will portray as action which stopped anarchists in their tracks, saved parliamentary democracy and shut the door forever on silly inquiry commissions.
We rejoice in that freedom, even though clouds of propriety surround us and many of us still find ourselves law-bound. But freedom means freedom from judicial and ethical shackles, and we have to break out of them in the spirit of a free people.
We are the rightful owners of a great resource, on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, in whatever profession, are, in unequal ways, the stakeholders of this enterprise with demands, privileges and power over others. We cannot encourage transparency, for no nation can be great whose people are transparent in action.
And to India, our much-loved theatre of operations, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our commission fees and we bind ourselves afresh to our service. Jai Hindsight.