Michael Nobbs is the Australian coach of the Indian Olympic hockey team that suffered five straight defeats and perfected the art of surrender without fighting.
After their third defeat Nobbs exploded in frustration and anger. He said, “The national (hockey) team needs players who show the character to take up a challenge and are willing to commit their heart and body for the country’s prestige.”
This profound characterisation would apply, not only to our hockey players but also to many of our top functionaries sitting in positions of authority in politics, judiciary and in many other walks of life.
Apply this test to the current UPA government where fifteen of its ministers are accused of corruption by Team Anna. How many of them are “willing to commit their heart and body for the country’s prestige”?
Apply this test to the two supreme court judges who thought that a rash driver’s punishment for killing six people should be a two-year long community service.
Let’s look into this case more deeply. The accused driver Sanjeev Nanda, who had mowed down six men under his BMW car in 1999, was the son of an arms dealer. In the earlier stages of the case he had lied under oath that he was not present in the car. He fled from the crime scene and managed to wash up the car to destroy the evidence. Many witnesses that appeared against him were bought off and managed to help him rather than depose against him. His lawyer was caught on camera by a leading news channel advising one of the main eyewitnesses to ask for money from the fabulously rich accused for hiding the truth in the court.
From the lower courts Nanda got five years jail that was later reduced to two years. Under pressure of huge public outrage the case was taken to the Supreme Court for the enhancement of punishment.
The learned Supreme Court judges found Nanda’s actions “highly reprehensible”. Yet they could not think of a punishment harsher than two years of community service. The judges also fined Nanda five million rupees, which is peanuts for the son of an arms dealer and the owner of one of Delhi’s top five star hotels.
This infamous BMW case has served as an example to many other kill-and-run cases where films stars, and sons of influential businessmen have similarly escaped justice.
Surely, not all judges are corrupt, but we have many judges who are failing the Nobbs test: “willing to commit their heart and body for the country’s prestige.”