This is my personal missive to you. I want you all to join me as a 'Campaigner'. Would you like to know who or what a 'Campaigner' is? Let me first tell you about the people who have joined me.

A group of eight persons sharing a common love for their country met on several occasions with an open mind and plenty of zeal to discuss what ails the country today. They tried to understand what exactly were the impediments that came in the way of India realising its destined potential... of India emerging as the leader of the comity of nations in the new millennium. Of becoming the superpower that it holds promise of….

Perhaps the biggest problem, the eight agreed unanimously, in the way of India achieving its potential to the fullest - being one of the oldest and greatest civilizations in the world - is CORRUPTION.

Corruption breeds corruption. It sustains and feeds on itself. It grows incessantly. It spreads swiftly and unerringly to infect all those who come in contact with it. Corruption has an addictive effect on human beings and turns them greedy, immoral, self-serving and inefficient. Corruption also facilitates terrorism, militancy and all forms of anti-national activity. And terrorism has managed to spread its tentacles as surely and swiftly as it has because of our lacking an individual attachment, as "Indians", to this realm that our Constitution calls "India that is Bharat".

This group of eight - the Founder Campaigners -comprises, besides myself, my friends and colleagues Sudha Passi, Gautam Basu, Avtar Nehru (all journalists) Shanmugha Patro, Nishant Dutta, Kiran Patra (all lawyers) and Nabajyoti Das (a management consultant).

Every time we met over the last several months we brainstormed, evaluated our thoughts and analyzed our views dispassionately to arrive at the consensus that in whatever we do to rid us of this ailment of corruption, the nation's interests must be kept paramount.

We discussed and debated the entire gamut of issues which involve corruption at its core. In the following chapters I have raised many of these problems and issues plaguing India. The eight of us agree that there is a simple solution at hand for all these problems. We agreed, but will you? Through these pages I invite you to ponder the problems and the solution that we have proffered. In the process I hope and believe many of you will agree with us.

In the course of these discussions, the Founder Campaigners have unanimously agreed that a "National Pledge" would serve as an effective instrument to bind the country with the fabric of unity. The pledge programme has to be a national festival to be celebrated simultaneously all over the country. We do not have a national pledge for Indian citizens. The two national days - January 26 and August 15 - are not celebrated as family festivals all over the country. These two festivals have been reduced to formal official programme only.

We believe that the National Pledge Festival can succeed where many other such well-meaning initiatives have failed; that these can bind us emotionally and help strengthen our national integration.

We also believe that if even 10 million out of India's one billion people take the Pledge, it would begin a slow but sure and irreversible process towards India's transformation. If members of the Indian Armed Forces, the student and teacher community, lawyers, doctors, engineers and other professionals, and every one else joins the movement for the National Pledge, and if the media performs even a fraction of the role that it had played, say, for the cause of Independence during the Freedom Struggle, I am sure that the Pledge will emerge as a viable and effective solution against the twin evils of corruption and terrorism that our society could do without.

The simple solution lies in all Indians from all corners of the country - Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Kohima to Kutch - taking this National Pledge in unison at an appointed hour to signal their commitment to their country. If such a thing is possible even once, the consequences could go beyond the imagination.

The point I wish to make is, yes, we can! We are convinced. We are convinced about the far-reaching and boundlessly curative effects of the Pledge. We believe that the National Pledge can be the panacea to almost all the problems, that plague our country today. We also believe that the National Pledge can galvanise the people of this nation into not only solving many of these problems but also looking beyond. Looking beyond to a corruption- and terrorism-free India that we can leave as a deserving legacy for our children.

The following pages will also convince you about the viability of our mission. Once you have read this, I invite all my readers to prevail upon their friends, neighbours and relatives to join the chorus that will one day echo the voice of a New India.

And what do you have to contribute to be a partner in this great cause? You can be a 'Campaigner' by merely willing to spare only a few minutes of your time in joining the rest of us Indians in taking the National Pledge in unison at the appointed moment. But this has to come from within. I shall attempt to explain the modalities the way I perceive them in the pages that follow.

Today we are eight. Tomorrow we will be 80. The day after we could be eight lakh, followed by eight million or even eighty million. Our confidence about this stems from the fact that every Indian is at heart very loyal to his country. Most Indians, in fact, revere the soil of this land as "Bharat Mata". Even if one does not treat this country as a mother or a deity, it does not mean that he does not love this country. If someone does not share the same sentiment, the spirit of Indian-ness can be inculcated even as a matter of duty or patriotic loyalty. Do you agree with this? If yes, you too are a potential Campaigner.

Every Indian, we believe, is a potential Campaigner. For Campaigners are, if anything at all, exemplary in their love and loyalty to Bharat.

You do not need certification to be an Indian if you love your country. And if you do, please ask your friends, relatives and acquaintances to spare only a few minutes of their time to join this "BIG" movement for a National Pledge.

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