My doctor’s advice was that I should refrain from socialising and therefore refrain from attending today’s function. I was inclined to convey this to our host but, Faiz Ahmad Faiz would have said, kehne main unke saamne baat badal badal gai!

The selection of speeches before us speaks for itself. It is reflective of the learned professor’s areas of interest. As a Member of the Rajya Sabha in the Nominated category to whom time allocation for speaking is always at a discount, Dr. Mungekar chose his interventions with care.

The objective of Articles 80 (1)(a) and 80 (1)(3) is to draw upon for purpose of nomination ‘special knowledge or practical experience’ in the fields of literature, science, art and social service. This has by and large been adhered to by successive governments and many public personalities have adorned the Chamber of the Rajya Sabha by their presence and contributed to public debate and law-making. They are supposed to be ‘independent’ but the recent trend has been to seek affiliation with party groups.

Two matters need to be considered in this context: (a) have the Nominated Members generally contributed to the objective visualised for them by the Constituent Assembly? And (b) have they been given opportunities to do so or have they remained decorative pieces in the constitutional scheme of things?

The record has been a mixed one. While some have contributed and written about it, some others have been known for the frequency of their absence. A very few registered their membership in a unique manner; a classic example of the latter is M.F. Hussain’s text in the opening pages of his collection of drawing titled Sansad Upanishad:

‘Imagine me sitting in Rajya Sabha for six years without uttering a word. I was watching the entire sequence as if Federico Feellini is conducting one great opera without sound. Heavily textured with coloured costume, pomp and bravado. All the silent gesture of characters, swift flow of their heated argument, point of order, perfectly choreographed walk out and walk in, the thumping of their chest of drawers. Abrupt adjournment of the House, empty seats, littered thoughts, of the House reassembling with Members returning wearing fresh smiles on their faces and greeting each other. I wish more of cultural temper should be mixed in a day.’

Hussain explained the rationale of the sketch-book: to record the proceedings in the language of visual hieroglyphic which is how mankind began communicating with each other by drawing images on the timeless sheets of rock surfaces. I wish more of cultural temper be mixed in the day to day dealings of our great Indian parliament than any other hot temper ingredients.’

Dr. Mungekar’s sketches on the economic situation, food security and the practice of untouchability are of a different kind, more riveting and urgent. What the author has just said is a wake up call to all of us. The institutions of the Republic India are under threat and it is for the citizens to take note of it and take corrective action. Failure to do so endangers the Constitution and the principles inscribed in its Preamble. There is a great deal of sophistry involved in the process so most citizens are slow in picking it up. But the truth is that a very dangerous process is underway, dangerous for us, the citizens of this country.
The contents of the book and what the author has just said are thus timely.

Jai Hind.

[ NDTV report New Delhi:

Asserting that a “very dangerous” process was underway in India, former vice president Hamid Ansari on Tuesday said the country’s institutions were under “great threat” and the principles on which the Constitution’s Preamble was drafted were being thrown out.
Mr Ansari said people were living in “difficult times” and it was important to act because if this continues, “it will be too late to wake up”.
“We are living in difficult times. I do not have to go into the details of it, but the bare and honest truth is that the institutions of the republic of India are under great threat,” Mr Ansari said.
The principles on the basis of which the Preamble of the Constitution was drafted are in the process of being thrown out, he said.
“There is a great deal of sophistry involved in the process so most citizens are slow in picking it up. But the truth is that a very dangerous process is underway. Dangerous for us, the citizens of this country,” he said.
He made the remarks at the launch of Bhalchandra Mungekar’s book “My Encounters in Parliament” in the presence of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, CPI general secretary D Raja and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.
Mr Ansari said the situation in the country is being looked upon with a great deal of alarm by its friends abroad, while the country’s “enemies are delighted”.
“But there is something which has to be taken note of, therefore, I regard Dr Mungekar’s words as a wake up call and a call to remind us that we are being misled and if we allow this process to continue, it will be too late to wake up,” he said.]