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
? 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