There was no courtroom rhetoric. No judge or jury to
impress. In the spacious book lined study I was the
only witness to Nadesan Satyendra's 'inward looking'
exercise, probing his own mind for a definition of the
ideal society. It was a morning of questions and
answers, the incisive lawyer's mind refusing to skim
the surface or grapple with illusions. Only the hard
cold facts dissected and analysed had some of the
"Don't have an idealism that
disillusions you" says Mr. Satyendra, "you are part of
the whole and the whole is in you and from that
understanding comes an inner strength." The strength
which he attributes to Buddhism, yoga and meditation,
the eastern consciousness that has withered away in
some people. In the western world he sees an entirely
different picture, a consumer society satiated by
materialism constantly pushing outwards.
He doesn't see systems as the answer to
a change in humans. On the contrary, it is the other
way round, You can almost feel the strength in some
humans, he says. Men like Indian philosopher Krishnamurthi. "If the
world was filled with Krishnamurthis there would be no
"It is only when you give, can you
command. Political leaders must give in order to take.
And in that social framework one must understand
oneself to understand society,"
It is the human being that counts in
the final analysis. "Take Gandhi," he says'. "where did his
power come from? It came from the conduct of a man
whose word and deed coincided. That power when
unleashed is unbelievable."
"They tell you that everybody is born
equal, in only one way are we equal, and that is in a
deeply religious sense. There is a divinity in each of
us. Equality in any other sense is just a meaningless
word. It is the jargon of the platform speaker for vote
'The masses are the real
power they tell you. How do you reconcile that
concept with the organisational hierarchy, the
distribution of power? What is the truth?"
He takes a bash at parliamentary
democracy, "In India the dumb millions living below the
poverty line are enjoying the luxury of parliamentary
democracy too. What does it really mean to them?" He
doesn't see it clothing their nakedness or filling
Mr. Satyendra is no idealist. It is the
reality that absorbs him, and he is forever seeking the
answers. Perhaps it was his subconscious rebelling
against the euphoria of his own success that made him
put aside his briefs for awhile, when in 1976 he went
back to Cambridge where he decided that 'success'
was not to be the motivating factor in his life.
He quotes from his favourite authors
and from the latter day philosophers who have
influenced his thinking. He doesn't discount Marx, the
able and skilled social scientist. Neither does he
scoff at Freud. He sees
them in the larger framework of the structural changes
in society. It was not what they said that mattered, it
is what guided their lives that interested him.
The evolution of the nation state he considers an
inevitable process in the scheme of things - the only
concrete form in which national feelings could manifest
itself. It has led, he says, to an uneven development
across the world with each nation, at a particular
stage in the evolutionary process, making geography an
important part of the political structure.
"Not all the technology or the 'cross
pollination' of cultural ideas can break down a man's
ingrained nationalism, You have got to live in the
reality of the political structure which is the nation
And then of course there is the
organisation within the nation. But what are we
organising for in the historical context? More and more
people on the same earth with man having to draw from'
the same land for food and for raw material for
industry. "In the context of an increasing population
there is a need for effective management of the
national resources to maximise returns. What it really
underlines is the need for management skills and the
importance of merit. Man freed from land and freed from
capital contributes his skill but it is difficult to
motivate humans on that basis alone"
But who has the answers asks Mr.
Satyendra, "Take the
newspapers. Every headline is an area of
conflict, And when you see the realities of the
jungle you get cynical."
"But the ultimate answer is
no doubt the human being himself. It is he who
fosters the idealism. It is he who fashions it by his
own actions. We can't help finding the outside from
within ourselves. If you are not sure, don't move.
Wait. There is a need for man to check out his own
thinking with his acts. The force he then generates is