New Delhi: A serious thinker of ‘political culture’ in India comes across a strange political phenomenon running through it’s political life which may be called ‘the isolation of the ‘Ideal’ and the ‘Promising’ in Indian politics!.
I am not speaking of the normal ‘generation gap’. I am talking of the predominance of the ‘Senile’ and the ‘juvenile’ in Indian politics, which isolates really the ideal and the upcoming.
While ‘generation gap’ is a universal, general and an eternal phenomenon, “The problem of isolation of the Ideal’ and the ‘Promising’ is peculiar to politics, and very peculiar to India, and it is about a decade or so old in Indian politics,
We had for long had the “hegemony of the ‘senile’ in politics. We have suddenly found the ‘upsurge of the juvenile’ in it in the recent past. I call it the ‘upsurge of the juvenile’, using the word ‘Juvenile for ‘inexperience’.
Ihave been recently talking to a local politician. I reproduce the gist of the conversation below with a sum up, which is my own.
Myself: In a few days time elections are going to take place for Assembly and for Parliament. who do you think would be in the field for such and such a Constituency?
Himself: Mr. X, Mr.Y, Mr. Z, Mr.A, Mr.B, Mr. Crete)
Myself: Why etcetera also? And why so many?
Himself: They all think they are eligible?
Myself: What do you mean by ‘eligibility’?
Himself: They all think they stand a chance.
Myself: How? On what basis?
Himself: Everybody thinks he has a ‘following’
Myself: What do you mean by ‘following’?
Himself: That he has got Support and supporters.
Myself: On what does this support depend?
Himself: On the things that one gets done.
Myself: What are those things?
Himself: Somebody wants a transfer, somebody wants an appointment, somebody wants a licence, somebody wants a permission, somebody wants a seat or a loan, so on and so forth.
One who gets the things done, gets the support.
Myself: Is that all, or anything else?
Himself: What do you mean by anything else?
Myself: Let us say, education, experience, service, standing, understanding, perspective. vision, planning, social awareness, knowledge of men and matters, integrity, image, soon and so forth.
Himself: Oh! Those things: Those, nobody is serious about. Nobody talks about them so much. They do not make an election issue of them. By and large neither the selectors nor the voters ask those questions at all.
Myself: But then in politics too as in other fields there are different grades and levels of posts and positions, which require higher learning, higher understanding, higher awareness and above all higher experience. Don’t they?
For example, the level of understanding, education, experience, and awareness needed for the post of a ‘panch’ a Sarpanch, a Municipal Councillor, or a Municipal Chairman is different from the level of understanding, education and awareness needed for the post of a Mandal President, a Mayor, a Zilla Parishad Chairman, a Member of the Legislature, a Member of the Parliament, a Chairman of the Corporation, a Minister, a Chief Minister or a Prime Minister, each requiring at every higher level, higher calibre, higher experience and higher education. Don’t you think so?
Himself: Yes, it is true, Like in every walk of life, politics too has its different positions, senior and junior, and positions which may require different levels of calibre, competence, education and experience, as the matters which are dealt with by politicians of different levels are of different orders, requiring different degrees of education, comprehension and attention, and I fully agree with you that those distinct competencies and credentials that are needed at different political levels are never brought to bere upon the political aspirants, and everybody thinks that everybody can hold any position, and every position, irrespective of his education, experience, efficiency or contribution.
Myself : Democracy gives the ‘Right to Elect’ and ‘Right to Contest’, but this right is not rightly understood by many voters and by many contestants. Right to Elect does not mean electing anybody and everybody, and so also, right to contest does not mean contesting for any post and every post. If that is so, ‘Right to Rule’ can also mean right to rule anyway and everyway, which probably no one would be prepared to like or accept it that way.
In a democracy worth its’ name, a voter has to play a very responsible and a very conscentious role to vote for the right kind of person, for the right kind of position. He must weigh the tasks to be performed by the persons seeking to hold different posts and positions through elections and compare the calibre of the contestants to decide whether according to their background they would be up to the tasks needed for the respective political posts and positions which they are aspiring. He has to be aware of the functions to be performed by a contestant and compare them with his qualifications, experience, previous sevice, personal reputation and social image, and come to a well considered and well compared conclusion, whether he will be fit for the tasks which he is aspiring to undertake.
The greatest problem with Indian politics is that the Indian politicians do not differentiate between the functions and obligations that a politician has to discharge to the ‘Society’ and the functions and obligations that a politician has to discharge to the ‘Individual’.
‘Individual good’ through ‘Social good’ is a concept which unfortunately is not yet seriously understood and sincerely appreciated by majority of people who seek to hold different political positions, particularly positions of higher order in our country.
‘Social good’ comes through ‘Policy’, and ‘Individual good’ comes through ‘Pairavl’. One benefits ‘The Society’ and another ‘The Self.
While anybody and everybody may be capable of doing ‘Pairavi’ for individual good, anybody and everybody cannot be capable of contributing to ‘Policy making’ for ‘Social good’,
Making’a policy’ requires a higher level perspective, a higher level planning and ahi gher level participation. Not only that, it also requires a higher knowledge of the subjects and fields of modern administration, and a higher awareness of their complex dimensions and comparative and correlative parameters. It requires a higher man of vision, knowledge, commitment and experience at each higher level to perform the role of the politician of a higher order. It also requires an image and a personality of immense individual and social goodwill.
In our Democracy, experience has lost it’s value. Neither one gains experience in the real sense of the word, nor one respects experience in the real sense of the word. With the result, experience is neither given a serious consideration for seeking a political position nor is it given a serious consideration for choosing a person for a political position. This has led toa serious and rather a grave situation in Indian politics where any, ‘juvenile’ thinks that he can contest for any political position, and any ‘senilc’ thinks that he can contest for any political position for any number of times to hold it for any number of years – A situation which is very dangerous for the health of any Democracy, and more so for the health of a democracy like ours which is yet so young,
It is a well acknowledged fact that for ‘states manly politics’ as against ‘street manly politics’ education matters, but experience with men and matters and exposure to the system of public affairs and issues of public concem matter much more than education, Such experience and exposure come through keen observation of public matters, close association with public affairs, and committed concer for social upliftment as against personal upliftment.
‘Democracy’ means, a political system which works for the ‘common good’ and the ‘commonman’s good’, as against ‘Monarchy’ and ‘Aristocracy’ which work for only the welfare of the well off and the well to do. ‘Common good’ and ‘Commonman’s good’ can be achieved, only when the Legislators (M.L.As and M.P.’s) are concerned with making ‘policies’ which contribute to ‘Overall social good’, and when such policies are well implemented by the administrators who are well informed, well selected and well trained. Democracy adopts a system – oriented approach to issues and problems than person – oriented approach to problems and issues, and it fixes the socially – oriented priorities of development to solve the problems of economic poverty and social misery and inequity. It aims at equalization of Opportunities, and at equitable distribution of National Wealth. It aims at secularism, rationalism and equalism as against dogma, superstition and mysticism.
But, all this will be possible, only when the elected representatives possess the qualities of ‘Leadership’, the qualities of service and sacrifice and the qualities of doing things which are not only popularly desired, but which are also socially desirable for the long range good of the society.
Education matters to make man a worthy human being. But experience matters more and much more to make man, a good man, a full man, a wise man. All education in the ultimate analysis is only experience reduced to writing, teaching and training, ofcourse experience which is rich and real.
‘A Leader is borm’ as it is sometimes said. But those who are ‘Born Leaders’ are few and far between. Most of the ‘Leaders’ are only made and cultivated,
They are cultivated when they are made to work with the well-educated, well-trained, well- experienced and the well-exposed and when they work with the competent and the committed. They are made when they work with knowledge, dedication, devotion, ‘Social awareness’ and ‘Social – commitment.
Experience makes men, seasoned. It brings men in touch with real situations and realistic situations. It enables men to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a system and a policy and it helps to test on the test ground of action the appropriateness, adequacy and efficiency of the plans and the policies adopted. It provides scope for amuch needed feedback for review and revision, and it creates opportunities to work with abundant knowledge, appropriate social exposure and adequate social motivation.
‘Experience is education internalized’, ‘Experience is education and exposure converted into wisdom’, ‘Experience is learning converted into art and skill’, through constant practise and continuous exposure under conditions of deligence and dedication’.
The real touchstone of experience in any field is the degree of qualitative success that one achieves as against the degree of qualitative success that once sets for achicvement in a given work situation and time situation. The speed, the quantum and the quality of work that one has attained determine, the value, ‘the worth of education’ training and experience that one has acquired.
It is work and work alone which speaks of the worth of the workmen and not education or position however big or small that education may be which one acquires, and however big or small that position may be which one attains.
One has to judge the workman, not by the age or by the wage but by the quality and the amount of service which he has rendered and which he is capable of rendering.
In the political context, the work of a politician has to be judged in terms of his participation in policy formulation and in policy implementation at different levels, but certainly not by how many garlands he has put around the necks of the powers that be, how many parties he has arranged for them, how many lorry loads of people he has mobilised for public meetings, how many camps he has run to coerce the electorate, how many political murders he has committed, how much money he has managed by foul means for elections, how many bogus voters he has enrolled or mobilized to vote, how many voters he has purchased, how many adverse voters he has contained from voting, how many barriers barbed wires and barricades he has created in the way of fair elections, how many underhand links he has established with big businessmen, blackmarketeers, bootleggers, corrupt persons caste and communal bigots, yellow journalists, blackmailers or the browbeaters.
Today, political men with real experience of service and sacrifice are dwindling fast and those with the touch of the field and with the contacts with the commonmen are fast declining. Today, experience of the politician with the rich and the ‘rowdy’ is increasing than the experience of the politician with the ‘poor’ and the ‘needy’.
When the consideration for selection of a person for parliamentary seat, for an Assembly seat, or for that matter, for any other political position shifts from work and workmanship to ‘money power’ and ‘monkey power’, and when for the ‘leader’, the ‘fans’ come to matter much more than the grass root worker for selection those who aspire for recognition also realise that what matters for ‘recognition’ and for ‘eligibility’ is not ‘work’ but ‘worship’, and therefore, their arena of political activity also shifts from ‘work places’ to ‘worship places’. (What happens to politics also happens to administration, if ‘worship’ matters and not work for appointment or for promotion).
Experience has lost it’s place and it’s value in Indian politics, and the availability of really experienced people in political and soical fields in that good old sense of the availability of men of service and sacrifice, has become a mere wish, amere dream. The only experience that now matters in politics seems to be the experience that one gains in playing ‘mischief’ and ‘manipulation’.
We are now living ina political world of make believe. We have drifted from ‘action-oriented politics’ to ‘acting-oriented politics’. We therefore have more ‘actors’ than ‘men of action’ at all political levels. Since ‘actors’ and ‘actors’ alone hold the sway and dominate the scene in politics, others who are sincere, and serious minded and, sobre are getting isolated as if the unwanted.
People too have started going by the actors and the best of them, since their choice is more or less confined and mostly reduced to them, as they have no other and no better choice to make before them,
Because of such a situation, the whole political atmosphere gets vitiated, and in politics too as in-economics, the ‘Gresham’s law’ of bad currency driving out the good currency comes into operation. The few, who may still be really good get disgusted and disheartened and get ‘isolated’. They find themselves totally out of tune with the atmosphere and suffer from a fecling of being helpless spectators of a ‘political drama’ which is full of songs, dances and revelry but without a theme. The only aim of those who are ‘elected’ mostly through this made up and make believe political drama of fun and frolic, of mimicry, of tomfoolery, and of ‘gift of the gab jugglery’, seems to be the aim to earn as much money as quickly as possible, tocome to as much power as early as possible, and to continue as long in power by hook or crook as possible, not realising that all this fun and frolic and all this din and grin in politics may some day Jand us into the lap of autocracy through a state of anarchy. Already we are secing the symptoms of such anarchy at all levels, in all fields, and at all places. The rulers no longer have the grip over the ‘rule’. They make promises which they fulfil not. They make compromises which they should not. They make concessions which they afford not. They succumb to all kinds of unwarranted pressures and indulge in all kinds of undesirable actions which are unbecoming of the politicians of an upcoming democracy.
The law and order situation in the country is day by day deteriorating with the lawless gaining upperhand over the lawful, the lumpen and the licentious gaining upperhand over the law abiding. By and large, governments both at the centre and in the states instead of leading are being led by thé lumpen, the licentious, the corrupt, the cunning and the conceited.
Those who are sober among the politicians and those who are constructive and concemed are sabotaged, subverted and suppressed, not to get party tickets, not to get elected, and not to come to power. And with all this, if a few of them still get elected, and if still some people come to power, they remain so meagre in number that they can neither play an effecitve role, nor can muster enough strength to plan or to pilot effective policies.
Politics has become the handmaid of those, who have money might and manipulative magic. Money, caste and manipulation have become the most powerful factors in politics, all other factors underscoring over them.
Most unfortunately for the society, what is happening in politics is also happening in every other walk of life, as politics pervades, permeates and percolates to all other walks of life through power, favour and patronage.
Allother fields ultimately conform to the dictates and demands of power because, power affects every one and leaves effect on everything. The decline and deterioration which sets into politics which is the primemover of every other activity extends, engulfs and envelops all other fields perceivably and imperceivably.
Today, whether we take the field of education, culture, literature, business, industry, law, medicine or services, in every one of them, the corrdoing characteristics which corrupt and commercialize politics can easily be deciphered and discerned (the characteristics of dimunitive leadership, diluted efficiency, diluted knowledge, diluted experience, diluted conviction and diluted commitment.). Ignorance gains upperhand over knowledge, incompetence gains upperhand over competence, indiscipline gains upperhand over discipline, disinterest gains upperhand over deep interest, discency gains upperhand over decency, corruption gains upperhand oyer honesty, and pomp and show gains upperhand over sobriety and silent and solemn work.
It is showmanship and slowmanship that gains currency over work and worksmanship in politics and administration. Lesser people gangup and browbeat the higher and the superior. Those who are really good and worthy are rendered alone and isolated, as survival becomes difficult and surrender becomes inevitable. As in politics so in all other fields of work, the higher, the sober and the superior suffer the same fate of alienation, and the same state of ‘isolation’.
Alas: Indian Democracy’ is run like the Indian Feudalism’, where the head of the family or the eldest of the family always rules and rules till he dies, however incapaciated, however brain-brawned, however senile and sterile he becomes. In India, where the feudal traits are still so strong and still so deep tooted, true to our feudal traditions, as in our property system so in our political system, our politicians run for political positions and hold on to them as if they are meant for them for their life time. The old, the outdated, and the out of tune in politics hanker after the power-brokers forever for power without giving a chance to new and the promising politicians to come up and to make a mark. This trend and this tendency which is so rampant in Indian politics has the adverse and the alienating effect of rendering many promising policiticians frustrated, isolated, rejected and dejected. This certainly does not augur well for an upcoming demoracy, as, in such conditions, no alternative and no auxiliary leadership can develop, to replace, to replenish or to reinforce the old and the wearing- out system. Talented youngmen get suppressed, sabotaged, and subverted by all kinds of dirty politics and politricks in such unnerving, unhelpful and undoing conditions.
Unless as in the United States, a ceiling is imposed on the number of times one can fold an office, and together with it, unless an age limitis also fixed for politicians to run for political positions, it becomes impossible to contain the stale, the senile and the sterile politicians from polluting politics to perpetute in power. Equality of opportunity in such circumstances becomes a mere myth and a miracle.
If at one end of politics we have the ‘scourge of the senile and the sterile’, at another end wehave what we have already called’the upsurge of the untrained and the inexperienced’, ‘the upsurge of the juvenile’, whichis also very dangerous forthe health of ademocracy. Politics requircs matured and experienced politicians to handle the statecraft. Today, the subjects and the fields that a politician of the stature of a Prime Minister, a Chief Minister, a Minister, a Legislator, a Parliament member, or a Chairman of a Corporation or a Chariman of a Zilla Parishad is called upon to handle are of such higher order, requiring such higher technical knowledge, higher field knowledge, higher societal knowledge and such higher national and international knowledge that they have to not only have to be educated, but also have to be very well exposed, very well experienced, sauve, sagacious and seasoned to handle the matters manned by them.
Education, experience and exposure of higher order become essential if one has to discharge the role of an action-oriented-politician as against the role of an acting-oriented-politician. This is hardly realised and appreciated in Indian Politics. The fact that in our Parliaments and in our Assemblies, hardly a few participate in the deliberations, and hardly a few make a mark including the ministers reflects volumes about the ignorance, illequippedness and the utter-unpreparedness of our politicians to discharge the complex tasks that they are called upon to handle.
Political shrewdness and political astuteness may be one part of politics, which a politician to be in politics has to necessarily have but administrative, academic and social awareness is also another and most important part of politics that a politician worth the name can ill-afford to ignore, if politics to him should mean public good and not the private good.
Itis therefore not only implied but also imperative that, in today’s highly knowledge-based and highly knowledge-needed politics, we have seasoned people in political forums of higher order to play educated and enlightened roles which are appropriate to the positions that they are eae to hold and the functions that they are required to discharge.
Experienced’ are welcome, but not the ‘aged’, ‘too aged’, ‘not the senile’. Young are welcome, but not the ‘youngish’, not the ill-educated, ill-experienced, inexperienced, not the ‘juvenile’.
Youth is welcome, but not youth of any kind and every kind.
Youth is welcome, but not youth to play the role of the old, worse than the old.
Youth is welcome, but not youth to criticise and to act as the criticised, worse than the criticised.
Youthis welcome, but not youth, to do the same, the very same, to come to power, to perpetuate in power,
Relatives are also welcome, but not just because they are relatives but if the relatives are on their Own in merit and in service. °
This is the ‘Age of ‘Youth’. We should have more and more youth to guide the destinies of the nation, for youth alone can think anew, plan anew, do anew, and take the country to new and ever new heights of peace, progress and prosperity.
But this can not be done by youth of any kind and every kind. This can be done only by youth who are well educated, well informed, and well intentioned with a well established background of education, social standing, soial image and social service. Alas! this is not the positionnow. and we find young men aspiring and even quarreling for higher political posts and positions just because they have money power, muscle power and the power of being the sons, daughters, or the relatives of those who are entrenched in power. They think that the posts and positions of power are meant to show off and make as much light money as possible and to live as lavishly and licentiously as possible blissfully forgetting that having criticised those who did the same earlier and having promised to conduct themselves better than them they are indulging in the very same orgy of ostentation at the expense of the poor, downtrodden and the uderprivileged.
God save this country from such youth who have no idealism, no humanism, no good sense and no good intention to serve the people but who only have ill intentions to gloat over ill-gotten money and ill-gotten power.
We are between the devil and the deep sea in Indian politics.
On one side we have the curse and the corrosion of the perpetuation of the old and the senile in powermaking mess of power, and on another hand we have the worse and the worsening onslaught of the youngish and the immatured aspiring to come to power setting at naught all hopes for a better future, in near future.
This is a very serious problem of the nation which requires a very serious and urgent attention of the citizens if they are not to loose their internal freedom on account of this internal Leader ship crisis.
Sooner our ‘youth’ and also our ‘aged’ realise this malaise and malady of Indian Democracy the better for the nation.
By Dr. V. Kondal Rao