Sunday, March 13, 2011

Politics Sans Morality

Bir Devinder Singh

The unrest among different sections of the society and the bloodshed being indulged in violence engineered by terrorist outfits is a challenge that the leadership in our country faces today. It is indicative of a deep rooted malaise of intolerance. What breeds intolerance and who is responsible for this? Why the golden principles of democracy seem going asunder? Have the people lost faith in the values the democratic set up represents? The answer is certainly 'No'. One needs to think dispassionately with clinical precision.
    The fact that it is happening at a time when people at the top of our political pyramid are doubtlessly the gems of our times is all the more ironic. We have people leading the country who have demonstrated beyond even a whiff of doubt qualities of selflessness and monumental integrity.
The speech on the inauguration of the State of Nagaland on December 1, 1963 by late Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishanan, the second President of India, clearly lays down the ground rules of governance: "The rule of law and government by the consent of the governed are the essence of democracy. Government must be the custodian of the general welfare of the people and not of any special interest. The government must capture the hearts and the minds of the people…."  In the days of yore, our national leaders used to keep a direct line to the people, a direct channel of communication. They did not let the so-called "threat perceptions" to come between them and the people. Perhaps it was because of such an approach that the people also reciprocated. They would suffer the vagaries of nature to welcome their leaders, not because someone had organized and arranged a roadshow but because someone was out to get to know the people intimately.
Today, the leaders in top governmental posts are playing into the hands of such people who have established a proximity through shady methods but whom the people have not accepted because of their black deeds. These are the second rung leaders who have attained this position through "number two" deals in trade and business. They are looking for more comfortable abodes and are trying their hand at politics as their chosen vocation. They are throwing crores into the business of politics and are managing to get into state legislatures or the Parliament. Once there, the nexus between politics and money becomes only stronger. They become proxy for their feudal political bosses. Such an approach to politics isolates the teeming millions who were to be stakeholders in democracy.
The leaders on the top rung are thus lost to the people whom they govern. When people cry because of policies that inflict untold miseries on them, their voice does not even reach the political top hierarchy because the entire system of communication channels collapses by then.
 The above new class of neo-rich politicians is joined by the bureaucrats as well as people in the judiciary. Even the bureaucrats are being convicted for amassing ill-gotten wealth whereas the political leaders in the country who set the wheels of corruption into motion and make no secret of it by displaying the ill-gotten fortunes, go scot free.
If a whistle blower raises an alarm, more often than not it is the whistle blower himself who gets the stick, a tribute to the kind of pimping that has crept into the system. Even the charges as serious as wholesale massacre of minorities take decades to bring the perpetrators of such heinous crime to justice. Appallingly, the people going to the Courts in the hope for justice get judgments but not justice. Generations after generations feel trampled in their fight in the courts due to the snail-paced process of justice delivery system. Those who can manage money to pay the hefty fees of lawyers render the doctrine of "Equality before Law" redundant for the poor underprivileged classes in the country.
I wish there were no sympathizers for the demons of corruption but that seems to be a wishful thinking. The cancerous growth of corruption in the system has eaten up the vitals of all the three organs of the democratic government i.e. the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. Fortunately, the only silver lining exists due to the emergence of the fourth pillar - the Press. It has braved all allurements and maintained the confidence of the masses, fearlessly unearthing the scams and scandals paralyzing the working of the other three wings of the Government. The clean politics itself is becoming a utopian wish. The vitiated atmosphere all around makes the honest living a curse. The confluence of circumstances surrounding a common man has convinced the people that except money, no other consideration works for someone who has legitimate aspirations to play a role in politics. The things have now reached such a pass where the people have started hating the very term 'politician'. This clearly is the outcome of a vacuum between the people and their leaders. In this paradigm of politics without morality, we are seeing the emergence and empowerment of pseudo-leaders who are far removed from ground realities and are busy amassing wealth and comforts. Their pursuits are marked by insensitivity towards the concerns of their electorate.
Such a class of leaders has no qualms about the fact that they are facing trial for corruption charges in courts. Instead, they are happy to  attend such court hearings by arriving in chartered aircrafts. On display is not humility before law but the abundance of their resources. Rousing receptions that clearly take millions to be arranged have become the order of the day. That receptiosn mark the entry of the leader into the court premises or while he walks out after n'th such appearance says something about our politics.
 The first casualty in this entire scheme of things is the ground level worker, the first line of interaction of the party with the people. He has no contact with the top leader. He knows what's wrong but the channel through which that information was to flow upwards stands destroyed. The spirited workers of parties, all parties, feel cheated, disgruntled and starved of ideological living because their voice is lost in the din of these money minting political bosses.
 Names like that of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shashtri, Sardar Patel and Maulana Azad are invoked by those who do not even have a passing acquaintance with the ideals espoused by these leaders. The Mafiosi only besmirch the names of these saints by uttering them from their lips.
Every unrest in the country is viewed from a rather queer angle. Instead of looking at the root cause of the social problems, the neo rich politicians coin different and ready catch phrases that offer ready-made solutions to their bosses by dubbing unrests with clich├ęd terms like Naxalites, Maoists, Militancy etc.. This makes it possible to turn a blind eye without seeming even guilty for failure to comprehend the real cause of such unrests.
 Leaders have lost contact with the masses because of walls created by minions who have managed to become their lieutenants through unfair and unprincipled routes. Once the aspirations of the masses find no apt expression in the system of governance, they are propelled to adopt the last painful resort - violence.
 It is with much humility that I beg and solicit the kind indulgence of the leaders of the political parties to read the writing on the wall. It is possible for you to dust away this new class of neo-rich political feudals and put an end to political slavery. If you do not act now, even this option will be lost since these parasites are becoming increasingly strong. The leaders must realize that such a class of politicians is injecting the venom of hubris which is overwhelmingly present in their working attitude. A golden rule for any leader is to preserve his humility which is possible only in the field with the men one is privileged to lead. Give a sympathetic hearing to the critics within the party who take the cudgels to call a spade a spade. Hail those who call a spade a bloody shovel. Sometimes voice of dissent is motivated by the practical wisdom and manifestation of the conscience of the critic and does not always qualify to be treated within the parameters of contempt by the authorities that be.
If the most legitimate aspirations of people even after 60 years of independence remain unsatisfied, the nation may plunge headlong into civil war between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots". You will not even get to know the bitter realities gnawing away at the roots of the political system should you chose to listen and see only what is served through a system of sieves set up by political minions. Be bold, venture out and establish direct public contact. Out there are people dying to be heard.
The voice of disagreement is proving to be a curse for humble and committed workers in the present day political system. The sifting of information should be done at level of the people who are known for their integrity and not left to the interpretation of a coterie of vested interests who often gather around the leadership. It is time the humble workers are made part of the thought process as against the system of decision making where the politicians, the contractors, the bus permit wallah, the cement wallah, the sand quarrying syndicate and the liquor vend monolpolists sit together to decide how to make the state progress. Their idea of progress is not the people's idea of progress.
 When an individual blunders, it is unfortunate and it affects the fortunes of a family but when a leader as a ruler fails, his failure has the potential to adversely affect the future of the nation and such a failure becomes a national tragedy. We need to remedy the situation we are apprehending today. The morality and value system must find its due place in the stream of our polity. Otherwise, we are doomed today, and shall stay doomed tomorrow.

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