New Delhi: Retiring as Rajya Sabha member, noted film personality Javed Akhtar on Tuesday said "adjournaments" and "polarisation" will not take the country forward as he pleaded with the Opposition and government to work together without thinking about the next elections.
Akhtar, who was nominated to the Upper House by the UPA government, said there are capable leaders in the Modi government who can do good work but those making extremist comments, including some ministers, need to be reined in.
"I hope both Opposition and the government will work together. Adjournments will not take us forward. Even polarisation will not take us forward. Please forget next election and think about the country," he said in his impassioned speech which was heard with rapt attention and intercepted by thumping of desks by members across party lines.
A proud Indian, the film lyricist slammed, in a veiled manner, AIMIM leader and MP Asaddudin Owaisi for saying he will not chant 'Bharat mata ki jai' because the Constitution does not ask him to do so.
Taking objection to Owaisi's remark, Akhtar said, "the Constitution even does not ask him to wear sherwani (dress) and topi (cap)... I don't care to know whether saying 'Bharat mata ki jai' is my duty or not, it is my right."
He then chanted 'Bharat mata ki jai' a number of times.
At the same time, he condemned those right-wing extremists also who say Muslims should go to Pakistan.
He also said that these days "fringe" elements are rising and emphasised the need to protect securalism to save democracy and the Constitution.
Hailing the essence of India's deep-rooted democracy, he said it must be preserved at any cost while learning from the fate of those countries where one religion was given importance, an apparent reference to Pakistan.
Underlining that there cannot be democracy without secularism, Akhtar said protecting secularism is not about protecting one community or the other. "We need to protect secularism because there cannot be democracy without it. I believe this is our greatest achievement."
On religious freedom, Akhtar said time does not stop and
the country either would move forward or backward.
"Intelligent person is one who learns from the experiences. More intelligent is one who learns from others' experiences. Look at those countries where religion is given importance, where the tongue is cut and people are hanged if they speak against the religion. Whether that country should be an example for us or a country where there is religious freedom. We have to think," he asked.
Expressing concern over lack of development in the country, Akhtar said India has industrialised and become a big power now but "more could have been achieved. Anyway whatever has been achieved is no less."
The biggest achievement, he said, is that "we have deep-rooted our democracy. The roots are so deep that it is difficult pull it out."
At the same time, he said, "We need to think why there is no development despite there being government and system in place? We want development but whose development and for whom? we need to think."
He added, "Development is not GDP. Development is Human Development Index. Be it any party, they wish the development of the countyr. Why our energies are wasted?"
On democracy, he said, "We are fortunate to have democracy though we complain about the government and society. We don't thank what we have with us. We don't thank enough to our constitution. ...The constitution gives democracry. But remember, there cannot be democracry without secularism."
He said that the meaning of democracy is taking views of the majority and not minority. "But the democracy believes that this majority and minority are not permanent. This keep changing. The democracy will die the day we define minority and majority in our own way."
Emhasising the need to protect secularism, Akhtar said protecting secularism is not about protecting one community or the other. "We need to protect secularism because there cannot be democracy without it. I believe this is our greatest achievement."
Besides democracy and the Constitution, Akhtar said India has youth power unlike Japan and China, which the government need to focus on achieving the development.
"The country's 50 per cent of the population is young. 35 crore people are youth and in age group of 10-15 years. They have lot of energy and talent," he added.
He said there is a need to harness potential of youth power as they will not remain young forever. "Japan has lost this advantage and China is losing this advantage. You have 20 years to take advantage of the youth power. Both Opposition and the government have to think about it," he said.