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Cag Got Your Tongue

Cag Got Your Tongue

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Published by CHETSUN
This article is authored by Mr.Gopalakrishna Gandhi, grand son of Mahatma Gandhi and Chakravathi Rajagopalachari (Rajaji). This article has appeared in Hindustain Times.Though the article is in public domain, I present this article hoping that Hindustan Times will wink at violation,if any, which I might have committed in the interest of readers at large.
This article is authored by Mr.Gopalakrishna Gandhi, grand son of Mahatma Gandhi and Chakravathi Rajagopalachari (Rajaji). This article has appeared in Hindustain Times.Though the article is in public domain, I present this article hoping that Hindustan Times will wink at violation,if any, which I might have committed in the interest of readers at large.

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Published by: CHETSUN on Jan 15, 2011
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03/21/2011

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CAG GOT YOUR TONGUE?
HINDUSTAN TIMES :January 14, 2011First Published: 21:40 IST(14/1/2011)Last Updated: 21:43 IST(14/1/2011)Does 1954 mean anything special in India? Well, not really. It was a straight-forwardkind of year. Nothing sensational happened, nothing that elated or depressed one. For the vast majority of us, it was another year for wrenching survival out of misery,subsistence out of deprivation, satisfactionwith little things out of a miasma of adversities. But for those who had time andconducive conditions to reflect on our nationhood, that year, like that decade itself,was a time of quiet pride and of confidence in our country’s direction.Films reflect prevalent moods. They are a pictorial barometer of the age’s dominantrasa.As a nine-year-old, I saw two films that year that quite bewitched me. The first wasSubah Ka Tara. Its title-song, sung in duet by Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar  — Gaya andhera, hua ujala, chamka chamka subah ka tara — kept resounding in myhead for months. Something linked the song’s mood to what seemed to me likestardust settling on everyone and everything. The second was Jagriti, with a songmeant to spur nationalistic pride in the young — Aao bachcho tumhen dikhaen jhaanki Hindustan ki. Kavi Pradeep’s words in Hemant Kumar’s voice sung on screen by the earnest, bespectacled Abhi Bhattacharya did more than anything to instil asense of pride in India.That was also a season of dizzy firsts. Our first President, Rajendra Prasad, was freshinto his inaugural term in office, sedate and smiling. Our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had completed six years at the helm, loved at home, admiredabroad. Our first Parliament, our First Five Year Plan, our first Supreme Court with itseight outstanding members, all had a fragrance to them, the fragrance of spring.The year saw the scheme of presidential decorations inaugurated, with the first threeBharat Ratnas going to C Rajagopalachari, S Radhakrishnan and CV Raman, pleasinga country proud of its human capital.And as a new entrant on the world stage, we seemed to be wearing, like our national bird, an iridescent crest and a fan of dazzling plumes. Our relations with China wereat a peak, those with the Soviet Union at a high, with the Western world confident,cordial and correct. Both blocs were taking note of non-alignment, seen as India’scontribution to international affairs.We were also levitating in an aerea pura we were almost unaware of. We were scam-free. Our first ‘scam’ — the Mundhra deal — brought to public notice by the intrepidFeroze Gandhi was some five years away.That era was a season of innocence as well.It is not as if our leadership was unaware of the possibility of something going wrong.But that ‘something’ was seen as an aberration that the system could self-correct. Partof the ceremonies of innocence were connected to a prosaic institution, the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. The first CAG Vyakaran Narahari Rao and his successor AK Chanda were redoubtable figures. The highest inthe land regarded them and their offices with a respect reserved for first principles.One such ‘ceremony’ was held in Madras on June 2, 1954. The former  parliamentarian Era Sezhiyan has recently reminded us of an address made by vice-
 
 president S Radhakrishnan. He said: “The CAG is responsible not to the government.He must serve as the check on the government. The government may make mistakes.It is wrong to assume that the government can do no wrong. The auditor general isindependent of the executive… If I have to give one advice and if I am presumptuousenough to give any advice to the officers of the audit and accounts department, it isthis: ‘Do not shrink from the truth for fear of offending men in high places.’”A month later, at the foundation-stone-laying of the CAG office in New Delhi on July21, 1954, it was the turn of President Rajendra Prasad to speak on the subject. Hesaid: “In a democratic set-up involving allocation of hundreds of crores of rupees, theimportance of this kind of scrutiny and check can never be over-emphasised… Theimportant task — I am afraid, a task not always very pleasant — devolves upon theCAG and his office. In accordance with the powers vested in him, he has to carry onthese functions without fear or favour in the larger interests of the nation.”Prasad, chairman of the Constituent Assembly, and Radhakrishnan as a member of that body would have remembered BR Ambedkar’s description of the CAG as “themost important officer in the Constitution of India.”Re-reading those texts, I paused over two phrases used by Radhakrishnan. Thegovernment may make mistakes. It is wrong to assume that the government can do nowrong. He could say that again. But like a Charaka or a Susruta, the philosopher-statesman is also giving us a medicament. He is saying that unlike in some grossdictatorship or in a kingdom under an inept monarch, we have correctives, the CAG being a paramount one. And for that corrective to work in the only manner it is meantto work, it must not shrink from the truth for fear of offending men in high places.In the larger interests of the nation, the autonomous stature of the CAG must remainundiminished.A government that can do wrong is part of a larger edifice where that wrong getsrighted by a system of auto-immune counter moves. No good, only deep anddangerous harm can come from that self-redeeming mechanism being devalued.The system of internal warning systems in the 1950s which the then president andvice-president spoke of, was also ‘voiced’ in another film that came three years after Subah Ka Tara and Jagriti. This was Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa. I do not know if Pandit Nehru saw it but if he did, that passionate adherent of justice would have hearkened toits unforgettable song in Sahir Ludhianvi’s magical words and Mohammed Rafi’simmortal voice:
Yeh mehlon, yeh takhton, yeh taajon ki duniya,Yeh insaan ke dushman samaajon ki duniya,Yeh daulat ke bhookhey ravajon ki duniya,Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye to kya hai. Har ek jism ghayal, har ek rooh pyaasi, Nigahon mein uljhan, dilon mein udaasi,Yeh duniya hai ya aalam-e-badhavasi,Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye to kya hai.
Even in those pre-Mundhra days of wise innocence, there was an awareness of thecraving for daulat in some, going against the interests of a ghayal insaan. But therewas the assumption that insaniyat ki duniya will get the better of 
dushman samaajonki duniya
.
The year 2011 cannot and need not be 1954. But must today’s uljhan and udaasideepen into an
 Aalam-e-badhavasi 
? Not if we remain aware of the fact, anincontrovertible ‘given’, that a
 Subah Ka Tara
 
rises each morn, a hope and achallenge, unseen perhaps, but right there, behind the miasma of a deeply polluted

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