Friday, April 18, 2014

Gopalkrishna Gandhi's speech at CBI forum: “Eclipse at Noon: Shadows over India's Conscience” // Gopal Gandhi raps Modi, Reliance

Shri Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Chairman, Governing Body, IIAS, Shimla
Eclipse at Noon: Shadows over India's Conscience


April 15th, 2014, Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi

Let there be no doubt about one thing : The CBI has a very mixed image. Not all of it is flattering. It is seen as Government’s hatchet, rather than honesty’s ally.

But Reliance is a parallel State. I do not know of any country where one single firm exercises such power so brazenly, over the natural resources, financial resources, professional resources and, ultimately, over human resources as the company of the Ambanis. From Ambedkar who spoke of economic democracy to Ambani who represents a techno-commercial monopoly of unprecedented scale, is a far cry indeed.


We are going through an ethical drought, a valuational famine, a desertification of the finer sensibilities of civilisational living. Paradoxically, the number of Godmen and, to a lesser extent, Godwomen, is increasing in algebraic leaps. They even compete with each other, through giant hoardings, advertisement blitzes, carefully-orchestrated interventions in natural calamities, political crises and and road-shows. Some decades ago, there was the odd Dhirendra Brahmachari and Chandraswami. Now you find them behind every tree. Some of them, going by their elaborate attires, look like trees. There is an apt phrase for them : Dharma-vanijyakas, merchants-of-religion..

Read the full text

In an apparent attack on the BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi on Tuesday questioned the ''frenzy'' to install a reign of ''sectarian bigotry'' in the name of ''strength''.In a neatly crafted 5,619-word lecture, titled “Eclipse at Noon: Shadows over India's Conscience”, Gandhi did not name Modi but his choice of words suggested that his aim was the Gujarat chief minister. In his speech, he dubbed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as DDT (Department of Dirty Tricks) and Reliance, led by the Ambanis, a “parallel state”. Delivering the 15th D P Kohli Lecture organised by the CBI, he touched upon a variety of issues, and took on politicians who look to big money to fight elections, and their belief in superstition.
Appalled at the rise in the number of godmen and godwomen, whom he described as “merchants of religion”, he said India was going through an “ethical drought, a valuational famine, a desertification of the finer sensibilities”. Questioning the “great frenzy” to bring to India's helm an “ethnic majority, of sectarian bigotry, of denominational autocracy”, he said it was done all in the “very specious name” of “strength”. The campaign by Modi and the BJP is centred upon providing a strong leadership to India. Finding fault with a section of the media, which has been accused of eclipsing Modi's rivals in print and screen, Gandhi said, “Here I must say that sections of the media have become trumpeters of what they see as the coming change. We had heard of paid news. But this is free advertising. The high noon of the free press in India makes its own eclipse-by-ink and through the small screen.”

The 68-year-old grandson of Mahatma Gandhi also minced no words on industry mammoth Reliance, saying corporate greed has crossed all bounds, as has corporate tastelessness. “Our economy is startling, if you do not want to see its other side. If you see that side, you will see it is schizophrenic. We used to talk of black money as a parallel economy, and so it continues to be. But Reliance is a parallel state. I do not know of any country where one single firm exercises such power so brazenly, over natural resources, financial resources, professional resources and, ultimately, human resources, as the company of the Ambanis. From Ambedkar, who spoke of economic democracy, to Ambani, who represents a techno-commercial monopoly of unprecedented scale, is a far cry indeed,” he said. On the CBI, he said the agency is seen as “government's hatchet”, which was clothed in “opacity” and a perfume of “mystery”. “It is often called DDT—meaning not the colourless, tasteless, odourless insecticide it should be, but the Department of Dirty Tricks. This perception, howsoever valid it might be, must change,” he said, advocating the need for bringing it under the RTI regime and the control of Lokpal.