HIMMAT is starting off as a blog by Rajmohan Gandhi who has written on the Indian independence movement and its leaders, South Asian history, India-Pakistan relations, human rights and conflict resolution. His latest book is Modern South India: A History from the Seventeenth Century to the Present (New Delhi: Aleph, forthcoming).

The U.S. and India

The conviction on criminal charges on the same day (21 Aug) of his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and of his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has damaged the seemingly damage-proof Trump more than anything else since his election.

Cohen’s statement under oath that on Trump’s direction he illegally paid money in 2016 to silence two women in order to influence the election that Trump won that year is the most staggering revelation thus far of Trump’s violations of the law.

But the impact of these developments on the Trump presidency, or on America’s elections in November, is not this blog’s theme.

What I wish to highlight is simply this: officials, servants and judges of other states, India in particular, can take inspiration from what has just happened in the US.

Prosecutors working for law enforcement – prosecuting lawyers employed by the government of which Donald Trump is the President – diligently and straightforwardly collected evidence of felonies and presented it to the court. In Manafort’s case, these government prosecutors obtained a guilty conviction from a jury of citizens. In Cohen’s case, they elicited a court-room admission of guilt from the accused.

These prosecuting lawyers have throughout been described as working on the government’s behalf. It was the government of the United States that proceeded against men who personally and in their positions were extremely close to President Trump.

They have demonstrated that the law and the government are greater than the President.

In my last blog, referring to India, I wrote:

‘Heroes on horseback are not necessary for a spirit of fairness to replace arrogance... Judges, policemen, public servants and legislators who remember their oaths would suffice.’

America’s conscientious officers, coming from different races and religions, have remembered their oaths and successfully prosecuted extremely powerful persons.

It is a fine moment for a country that in recent months has provided images of coarse and callous conduct from many famous people.

The world has been given a tremendous example. India’s judges, police officers, bureaucrats and politicians will surely have been intrigued and challenged.

In India, too, the law and the government are greater than the incumbent of any office. At least in theory.

Who runs our world?

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