When politics is business, the national interest goes down the drain. As far as many of the Indian politicians are concerned, political involvement does not appear to be national service. In some cases, it is all in the family. Family interest propels many to enter politics. There is much to protect. It could be the accumulation of wealth that needs protection. Or, it could be the family business that has to prosper. Or, it could be the family interest under cover of national interest. Some get to politics by holding onto the apron strings of their parents.
For many others this profession seems tempting. It has glory attached. It has name and fame attached. It is power-packed. It can wield connections. It can manipulate people and bureaucracy. If one can train one’s oratorical capacity, one can even mesmerize people. At least for a time!
Politics has glamour attached. The Bollywood/Kollywood stars enjoy popularity in their own way at least for a short while. The stars of the political firmament seek to shine by displaying power on their fingertips. Some of them may add some ammunition to it through their aides and musclemen.
For quite many it is a way to while away time because they are not qualified for anything. Not even for decent politics. So, it is a trial and error option. Thus, we have many politicians who have no idea of what an ideology is, what a national issue is, what national interest is.
It is also that many jump on to the political stage due to sectarian interest. It could be community interest. It could be class or caste interest or regional prompting. It could even be religious fanaticism to fashion the nation the religious fundamentalist way. It may be minority convulsions and compulsions that drive some to politics. For such politicians vote bank politics is compulsive neurosis.
The picture that emerges is an India cut up into slices according to the fancy of the politicians. This is what is happening in India. Not a very consoling picture. In this scenario human fellowship is given a back seat. We remain Indians for name’s sake. The politicians dictate to us what type of India we need to live in. They will force down our throats the type of Nationalist state which they have cooked up with their hidden agenda. There is no question of constitutional values of secularism, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and other constitutional guarantees. All these are rolled up into the might and will of the politicians.
That was not the way of the politics immediately following the post-independence era. The freedom fighters did not grab power. The nation found them worthy administrators to steer the nation to glory. If they had the determination to wrest freedom from foreign domination, they had also the will, intent and vision to lead the nation to justice and equality and to redeem the nation from the curse of caste and class formations. They had at heart the genuine development of the people, freedom from poverty and misery, from social marginalisation and cultural disintegration. For them secularism meant freedom of people to worship the way they chose, freedom to marry one’s choice partner, freedom to express one’s thoughts and ideas, freedom to practice one’s religion, freedom to agree to disagree. That is why they swore by the nation’s sacred constitution and promised the nation to implement the constitutional guarantees in word and deed.
But, where is that India which was being fashioned by our tall leaders whose service-mindedness was noble and praiseworthy? Where is that nation which our founding fathers of the new independent India envisaged? Where is that India we can hand over to our posterity as a family of fellowship and equality? Why is our secularism under threat as some brazenly declare that the vision of secularism projected to us by Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and others is anathema? Why is there open war against people who think critically and logically? Even putting a prize for the heads of people of the entertainment world! Why are we throwing reason out of the window by our narcissist tendency to hold on to our pet fanatical and farcical ideas? Why are we stone-walling scientific thinking by propagating superstitious cults and outmoded beliefs?
The picture one gets about the present day political breed is depressing. The leaders who stood tall and appeared service-minded were not ambitious or arrogant. Instead, we have quite many politicians whose coat-of-arms is arrogance and whose only aim is to grab power by any means. At the same time, there are a few veterans whose voice is suppressed, whose sense and sensibilities are ridiculed by the rest. There are some politicians who have at heart the good of the nation and whose service is selfless but they are marginalised by the scatter-brained.
Some say we Indians are condemned to live with sound pollution. Sound pollution is everywhere. Even religious shrines shriek into our ears at any hour of the day, thereby wanting to show that freedom of religion means that. The passengers in the bus or the train have to talk like howling dogs to demonstrate that it is an Indian trademark. Our politicians are no better. They are loud mouthed. Most of them! They make tall promises to impress the public. They pollute the atmosphere by spewing out in front of you their infected lung power. They are everywhere. They take special pride in appearing on media presentations or at press meetings or public gatherings to foul up the atmosphere.
They pollute the religious atmosphere too. Come election time. They rush to temples, churches, gurudwaras or mosques to display their convulsive devotion to the deity in whom they may have no faith at all. They are there where a new ship or a rocket is launched to break a coconut and perform an aarati.
To give proper credit to our politicians, one should admit that they come in a variety of formats, the good, the bad and the ugly. But all come in the same basket. A patient nation tolerates them. Just tolerates!
We need a new brand of politicians to steer the nation to safety. The nation stands in need of a new breed of vibrant young men and women who have the courage to stand up, who have the conviction of what they speak and who believe in the sacred ideals of our constitution. Wanted are resourceful people with intelligence and integrity. Today’s politicians need to be people with a sense of history and suffused with scientific temper. A third millennium nation cannot afford to be entrusted to politicians and religious pundits who want to peddle their fundamentalist and unscientific notions and make a religio-political mishmash. The nation cannot afford to be driven to a suicidal cliff by such thoughtless and self-serving political brood.
Where do we find such a good breed that can engender hope in the citizens, who can guide and lead the nation with honesty and human touch? We can find them only when we can form them, groom them in decent families and in educational institutions where students learn the noble principles of national service, ideals and practicalities of nation-making! Where they learn the history of national leaders and get inspired. Here one is not talking of campus politics. Often campus politics is violent party politics and there one learns that hate ideology is the best ideology in politics. Serious political grooming and campus politics go in opposite directions. What we need is not brainwashing young and impressionable minds with cock and bull stories of religious fundamentalism or myths which have no historical or scientific basis. Otherwise, the recipients of such grooming will grow to be religious fanatics wanting to turn the nation into a religious rashtra where other religions or other ideologies will have no space.
If the present trend in India is anything to go by, spurious religious ideology and pandering politics are trying to make a marriage of opportunism. All sensible and nation-loving citizens should stonewall any such attempts.(Published on 27th November 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 48)