Leaders who govern countries possess authority and power. Many of them are protected by robust security guards. Heads of different organizations and priestly class of all religions too enjoy power. Yet they live in constant fear of losing power. They are afraid not only of their opponents but also of their close aide also. They look at everyone with suspicion.
From time immemorial, we have learned how the rulers have silenced those who criticized them. They eliminated all who appeared to be a threat to them. Many religious leaders also followed the policy of dictators. They did this in the name of God. Unfortunately silencing prophets and alienating those who speak against the hypocrisy of the authority are still part of many religious structures. Pronouncing ‘Fatwa’ by Muslim clergy against authors and reformists is a sign of their fear.
Great leaders allowed dissent and appreciated those who criticized their policies and actions. We have seen how former US President Barack Obama invited his party colleague Hilary Clinton who contested against him to be part of his cabinet. In our country, we had witnessed how the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had invited his critics Jayaprakash Narayan and Shyma Prasad Mukherjee to be members in his cabinet. He was noble to appreciate young Atal Bihari Vajpayee for criticizing his government in the Parliament. Nehru believed that dissent is the soul of democracy and followed the famous caption, “I don’t agree with you. But I will fight with all my might for your right to express your argument”.
Unfortunately today our leaders who are in power irrespective of their party or organization follow a policy of vengeance and intimidation. Silencing the critics has become the style of all who are in power and positions. They control the media and threaten them with punitive measures. Opposition leaders are silenced with threats of investigation by law enforcing agencies. Since political leaders and bureaucrats have skeletons in their cupboard they fall in line. They either remain mute spectators or become sycophants singing praises to the ruling dispensation.
Many who have a clean and transparent background also opt for silence against injustice and corruption for fear of intimidation and false charges. Social activists and authors who dare to speak and write are targeted either by government or by its fringe groups. Journalist Gauri Lankesh, Dr. MM Kalburgi, Dr. Narendra Daboholhar and many other activists were eliminated to terrorize and silence others.
Many social activists are languishing in prison for false charges filed against them. The powerful dictator Adolf Hitler of Germany was so afraid of the intellectuals and authors that he burnt all their books and literature. He imprisoned and murdered scientists, authors and intellectuals. He was scared of them.
Rulers with power are afraid of common people also. They know that they are like sleeping lions. Hence those in power make sure that the government propaganda machinery pumps them with only such information to make them believe that the government is doing everything for their welfare. It is a pity that rulers despite having power and authority are living in constant fear. I wish if they could learn from Mahatma Gandhi and many others who lived and worked among people in freedom and fearlessness. Even after they were killed they continue to live and give life to millions because they valued truth. For them, service to people was more valuable than power and wealth.(Published on 03rd August 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 32)