“Power will go to rascals, rogues, freebooters. . . .
All leaders will be of low calibre & men of straw. . .
They’ll have sweet tongues & silly hearts. . .
They will fight amongst themselves for power & the two countries (India and Pakistan) will be
lost in political squabbles. . . .
A day would come when even air & water will be taxed” — Winston Churchill
( December 3, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) These words of Winston Churchill applied to the entirety of the Indian sub continent with specific references to India and Pakistan. In hindsight it appears that his prophesy surprisingly applies more accurately to Sri Lanka which has actually exceeded his expectations and will continue to do so. Churchill should be glad.
Winston Churchill with the bull dog tenacity though regarded arrogant was far sighted and intuitive. In May 1940, he became Prime Minister and Minister of Defence and remained in office until 1945. He won the Second World War for England and for democracy. He saved the world from the fascist nationalism of Hitler and Mussolini. When his mission was completed, instead of being deified the British people in true democratic fashion threw him out at the very next general elections into the political wilderness after his usefulness had been served, until he became prime minister again in 1951. Clement Atlee of the British Labour Party succeeded as prime minister in 1945. Churchill is regarded as the greatest western statesman of the twentieth century having also briefly lived in India. He took over the premiership again in the Conservative victory of 1951 and resigned in 1955. Besides his military distinctions he was a historian, a literary figure winning the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953. He was painter and above all a wit. He was astute and far sighted.
His observations were considered uncharitable, snobbish and irrational when made nearly sixty five years ago by many including both British and Indian intellectuals but in hindsight even to the polite observer, have today unsurprisingly become not only relevant but also most appropriate.
Of India very briefly, steeped in corruption at every level and in all political persuasions and spheres both in the ruling party and the opposition we wonder whether it could ever get out of this morass much to the dire detriment of the hundreds of millions of people to be liberated from the quagmire of poverty and ignorance afflicting the overwhelmingly vast majority of its people. Manmohan Singh the invertebrate prime minister who is not only corrupt but has also fallen into the trap of the family of Sonia Gandhi who is only interested in promoting her son Raoul (now Rahul), her daughter Bianca now (Priyanka) and her corrupt son in law to take charge of the destinies of India. The transfer of Indian antiques transported to her sister’s million dollar concern in Italy is another story. It is interesting that at the BBC’s Hard Talk programme on 19 October 2012 the Indian finance minister, Chidambaram one of the most corrupt of the Indian central government when questioned by Stephen Sackur on the mounting corruption in India, trivialised the problem of such magnitude with callous cynicism. It appears that India steeped with corruption from the very top has no redemption. The launching of the satellite with Chinese assistance makes its future even worse. The only credible alternative for any redemption was the BJP but with its anti-Muslim stance and increasing corruption within its own ranks is now out of the question. In short, India has lost the plot.
Pakistan has been a country governed by a military beuareacracy often appointed from above dominated by the Bengalis except in the case of Shariff and General Musharaff . The Sharia law and the oppression of women dominate family life with absolutely no equality to be enjoyed by women in the justice system. If one goes into Pakistan the message is that the responsibility for the murder of the then contender for the president’s position, Ms Benazir Ali Bhutto should lie not with the Taliban but with her husband the president. The world recognises that it is the epicentre of Islamic extremism which is very difficult to erase rendering any peace even in Afghanistan impossible. The Taliban used by the US through Pakistan to rid of the former Soviet occupation in Afghanistan is the product of the Pakistani army with its cadres at present fed into by the Madras as the centres of fascist Islamic training comprising impoverished and often homeless youth. Sri Lanka with its professed interest in assisting the world in the eradication of international terrorism should take a closer look at its traditional alliance with Pakistan.
India calls itself a secular state despite is inaction towards the atrocities against the Muslims, while Pakistan is a religious State. India and Pakistan will continue to be in constant conflict and the two countries will be lost in political squabbles especially on the Kashmiri problem for the present, with serious consequences for south Asia in the future. The Indian sub continent will produce billions of impoverished, economically oppressed and ignorant people for in the future it would be the circumstances of one’s birth that would determine their destinies.
Sri Lanka, since its independence in 1948, has had three constitutions including that of 1972 and 1978. Every time a parliamentary election afforded a two thirds majority every excuse, disguisedly in the name of the supremacy of Sinhala Buddhism was made to change the constitution in order to increase the powers of the incumbent in office towards absolutism.
In 1970, Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike the “wailing” widow of SWRD Bandaranaike, being the only qualification, with limited education and with no orientation in democracy was elected to power with a two thirds majority by the Sinhala polity to make certain that the Tamils should not enjoy even the limited privileges enjoyed under Dudley Senanayake the prime minister from 1965 to 1970. The 1972 constitution of Sirimavo made Sri Lanka a republic doing away with even the minimal safeguards that that the 1947 constitution had provided for the minorities. Further, it ushered in an era of political supremacy at the expense of the independence of the judiciary. There was little or no public debate or discussion on the passage of this constitution.
The 1978 constitution was tailor made to satisfy the childhood fantasies of JR Jayewardene to become the president. The main feature is that it provides for an executive presidential government with a cabinet of ministers collectively responsible to parliament. It is the first constitution in the world to provide for its own repeal and replacement. It vested the judicial power of the state in the parliament and thereby subjected the judiciary to political control and placed the legality of the constitution outside judicial review. It also created a theocratic state to keep the Buddhist monks happy.
Jayewardene was nevertheless, a person of some refinement perhaps due to his upbringing and intelligence, who never contemplated or envisaged the indiscriminate bombing of the innocent Tamil people in the north and the east on such large scale, despite the problems caused to him by the Tamil militancy although responsible for other very serious crimes against the Tamil nation. Although fox cunning and self centred, little would he have envisaged that the constitution he devised where the
“Power will go to rascals, rogues, freebooters.
All leaders will be of low calibre & men of straw. . .
They’ll have sweet tongues & silly hearts. . .” would descend to the rat cunning Rajapaksas’ cheap dynastic leadership incapable of handling political power with the president unashamedly announcing that he is above the law giving himself the licence for murder, large scale massacres, war crimes, the protection of war criminals and other types of criminals guilty of rape and even paedophiles with impunity. Dutugemunu might have been above the law but not the Rajapaksas for their wishes unlike those of Dutugemunu are subject to challenge in the Supreme Court.
( The Writer, Editor, The Eelam Nation, an online journal)