Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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Sunday Special » People

Posted at: Apr 15, 2018, 1:23 AM; last updated: Apr 15, 2018, 1:23 AM (IST)AS I PLEASE

Necessity of order and laws for citizens

By K. Natwar Singh
In Australia, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari talked about Islamic contribution to India

By K. Natwar Singh

On March 21, 2018, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari addressed Australian National University, Canberra, on “India and Islamic Civilization: Contributions and Challenges.”

I give two excerpts: “The classic text on the medieval Indian theory of kingship is Ziauddin Barani’s 14th century work, Fatwa-i-Jahandari, on the techniques and rules of government. It is based on an examination of the working of the institutions of Delhi kingship for over 95 years. Its postulates were amplified and re-enunciated in the 16th century by Mughal emperor Akbar’s chief secretary Abul-Fazl Allami in his monumental work Ain-i-Akbari, which itself is a part of Akbarnama.”

“Barani’s principal dictum was that the institution of monarchy was necessary for social order and the enforcement of justice and that, ‘the king should have the power to make state-laws even if in extreme cases had to override the shariat’. Barani defined Zawabit or state-laws as rules of action which a king imposes as an obligatory duty on himself for realising the welfare of the state and from which he never deviates. Abul Fazal’s observations on the subject followed and amplified a line of thought, no different from the earlier Indian prescriptions of Kautalya’s Arthashastra.”

Hamid Ansari is one of the three Vice-Presidents who added lustre to the job. He is a product of the Indian Foreign Service, for which he qualified in 1961. He served for 36 years. He was ambassador to Iran, Saudi Arabia, High Commissioner to Australia, and Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations. He served as Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University and finally Chairman of the Minority Commission. A career, few can surpass.


The other day, I met former governor Jagmohan at the library of the India International Centre. The library is his second home. He spends six to seven hours a day there. He is now in his early nineties. He is the author of 10 books, including “My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir”. It is now in its 11th print.

He gave me a copy of his latest book, “Triumphs and Tragedies of Ninth Delhi.” He, as Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, beautified several parts of the capital and repaired and reconstructed many old and dilapidated monuments. It is strange that no enclave, lane or road has been named after Jagmohan.


The West, led by President Donald Trump, is committing a grave folly. British Prime Minister Theresa May is also in the Trump team. Once upon a time, America was the most isolationist country in the world. Today, it is the most interventionist.

The US President is in a belligerent mood, threatening Syria with dire consequences. George W Bush destroyed Iraq. Trump is planning to do so in Syria. Syrian President Assad is no angel and he has the backing of Russia and Iran. President Trump should abandon the war-like brinkmanship and resort to diplomacy. Unfortunately, it is true that a sneeze in the White House makes the world catch a cold, except the People’s Republic of China.


In our political culture, a fast was an ethical and moral undertaking. Gandhiji is the finest example of self-purification. Once in a while, he fasted for political reasons which were always of the highest importance. Today, fasting and fasts by politicians are treated with derision. The one at Rajghat was laughable and farcical. The principle leader apparently arrived late, leaving early.

Parliament does not function and the Prime Minister and his colleagues went on a day’s fast, mostly for publicity. One worthy declared he was expressing his agony and pain for Parliament disruptions. He obviously was suffering from amnesia. He was himself among the ones who disrupted the proceedings. 

Each day newspapers report on children’s murders and gang rape. Does any leader fast? No. We are reputed as a country that is civilised, culturally rich. We are also insensitive to cruelty inflicted on those who are innocent and unable to defend themselves. The Nirbhaya case is a glaring example. 


Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Vice-Chancellor of Ashoka University, wrote about the Kathua incident in his column in a national daily last Friday. “What do we say for a country that converts the gang-rape and death of a child into a political weapon? What locus standi does anyone have to even extend genuine sympathy to her family? What language are we left with, that has not been denuded of meaning? I wish we could say with confidence that the Kathua case will morally haunt us for a long time to come; our conduct as a society has shown how easily we can brush it off. But we can say this: Our conduct in this case is already an indication of the moral black hole we have now entered.”


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