Mujh pe ilzam etne lagaae gaye
Begunahi ke andaz jaate rahe
A decade is a long time in the life of an individual. It is easy yet imprudent to reflect upon it at this early stage. The eloquence of preceding speakers, and the generosity of their sentiments, must remain unmatched; I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge its intensity and thank them individually and collectively.
When I was welcomed in this House ten years back, an eminent leader no longer with us in this world gave a piece of advice: ‘kal ke baad’, he said, ‘aap ko bahut takleeph ho gi. Mujhe aap se hamdardi hai ki is takleeph ko aap jhail jaaen aur ek salah bhi hai ki hum log ketna bhi halla karain aap apne chehre par ghussa mut dekhaiye aur hamesha haste rahye ga…hum sab ke sab lok desh ke dushman nahin hain lekin hum sab ek muskaan par fide ho jate hain aur chup chap baith jaate hain.’
I confess I had no difficulty in benefiting from this eminently sensible counsel. I discovered in these years the validity of the dictum that wishing to be friends is quick work but friendship is a slow ripening fruit. It needs to be nurtured.
I venture to think that I succeeded in fair measure.
The Chair is like an umpire in cricket or a referee in a hockey match, witnessing the play and the players but without becoming a player. Its only source of reference is the book of rules.
This House is a creation of the Constitution and reflective of the wisdom and foresight of the founding fathers who wished it to portray India’s diversity and to be a calibrated restraint on hasty legislation. It has upheld democracy’s sacred creed that discussion, instead of being a stumbling block in the way of action, is in fact an indispensable preliminary to wise action. Deviations from this golden rule contribute neither to diligent policy making nor to our claim to be a mature democracy based on Rule of law.
In this context I would like to recall, as I did in August 2012, the words of the most distinguished of my predecessors, Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan:
A democracy is distinguished by the protection it gives to minorities. A democracy is likely to degenerate into a tyranny if it does not allow the opposition groups to criticise fairly, freely and frankly the policies of the Government. But at the same time the minorities have also their responsibilities. While they have every right to criticise, their right of criticism should not degenerate into wilful hampering and obstruction of the work of Parliament. All groups, therefore, have their right, and their responsibilities.
I fervently hope that all sections of the House would seek to achieve this laudable objective. The manner in which they attend to their business is watched by the citizen body with a discerning eye.
As I leave this Chair, I wish the Rajya Sabha well. I wish success to its Members in the responsibilities entrusted to them. I thank the Secretary General, Shri Shumsher Shariff and the officials of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat for the exemplary manner in which they attended to their responsibilities.
An Urdu couplet is perhaps appropriate by way of farewell:
Aao ki aaj khtm hui daastan-e-ishq
Ab khatm-e-aashiqi ke fasane sunai hum