Punjab Today Edit Page Article
from June 19-25, 2010 edition
from June 19-25, 2010 edition
Politics is not dirty business
So Be Political
Politics is dirty business idea is floated by those who want you to believe that a dis-connect from politics can go hand in hand with a rosy future for your children. The reality is that this disconnect can come home to roost. It just did in the US. If only Americans were more interested in politics, the history of the US-Arab relations would have been different.
Innumerable stories of corrupt temple priests abound all around. Gurdwaras were run in a most shameful manner by mahants for decades till Sikhs rose in a reform movement to liberate them. But did you hear any stories of people renouncing their faith or God because louts were running the House of God?
Then why is our younger generation becoming disconnected from politics and actually formulating, rather recanting, the idea that politics is dirty business? Politics is what decides what will be on your breakfast table, what kind of schools your children will go to, how your teenage kids will travel to shores far away and whether someone can block that beautiful view of a rising sun from your bedroom window by coming up with a six-storey mall right in front of your sweet little home. Can such a vocation, that formulates policies for our lives, be dirty? What could be a more pious duty than to follow one's conscience and participate in this game called politics?
Who tells you that politics is a dirty game? Try and recall the last time you heard this one. Chances are that it was from a politician's lips. Chances also are that this was the politician whose son is himself looking for a break in politics, whose wife is itching to be an MP, or whose brother may be vying for an Assembly ticket.
"Budget par siyasat na karo." That has been an injunction that countless politicians have hurled at us. "Akalis are doing politics on 1984 riot victims," the Congress tells us all the time, just as CM Prakash Singh Badal accuses the Congress of politicising sundry issues. The politics over the Special Economic Zones, instead of igniting a debate over development models, gets reduced to how much the farmers should be paid for the land acquired (read snatched). P. Chidambaram wants you not to connect yourself with the politics of the Maoist violence; he wants the country to vote with its feet for his Green Hunting tactics.
We are passing through times when the crux of politics is hovering around de-politicising every political notion. Hence the sublime ideas of making everyone equal through one syllabus-one exam-one nation sloganeering. Would it take an intellect any more complex than a fourth grade kid's that a child in Bhucho Mandi's ramshackle school who would navigate his way through ETT teachers, half-skilled school lecturers and resource-crunched labs and classrooms but with the same syllabus may be at some disadvantage when pitted against Modern School, Barakhamba Road product?
Politics-Is-Dirty-Business idea is floated by those who want you to believe that a disconnect from politics will ensure that your children acquire great education and get six-digit salaries in MNCs. This disconnect can come home to roost. It just did in the US. Americans' feelings on the question of Iraq and Muslims were swayed by the Republicans because of Americans' near total de-politicisation, the same people who for no fault of theirs live under constant threat of terrorism. If only they were interested in politics, the history of the US-Arab relations would have been different.
The politician will never be interested that you get interested in politics. Who wants another to learn his trade secrets? If you get interested in politics, then you will question Prakash Singh Badal about induction into Akali Dal of politicians who have spent decades in Congress. Or you may question Amarinder Singh about his long disappearances from the political scene. Or ask every second politician why his or her son/daughter/kin has become indispensable to Punjab.
If you get interested in politics, politicians would not be so blasé as to actually issue public statements saying they would give tickets on the basis of winning ability, rather than ideologically honest politics. And no one will be able to speak of such crass things as plans to rule Punjab for 25 years.
Get interested in politics because you do care whether the view of a beautiful sunrise from your bedroom window is blocked or not. Don't lose control. And to gain control, all you have to do is to get interested. "I care" is always better than "Who cares?"
And never believe anyone who badmouths politics.