The wretchedness of the human nature comes to the fore only in politics. The extent to which the thirst for power can literally bring out the conniving, scheming Iago within a human being can be seen in politics today. It almost looks like one waits for the first stumble of a person to make it into a 100 ft fall. And this is the fallacy of politics. Gone are the days when politicians wanted to do something for the country. Remember the age old – ‘What do you want to be when you grow up’ essay? Prime minister was once on top of that list. There was once a time when Gandhiji, Nehru, Patel were lauded for their vision, their mission to build India. They had stars in their eyes and a wish to make a difference. And now, when asked to name a profession for which I would say, “Don’t pick me”, I emphatically say ‘Politics’. Why? Either I have opened my eyes to reality or there has been a decadence of politics over the years, or perhaps both! I remember this old Malayalam movie – don’t recall the name though, where a group of crooks manage to lay their hands on a huge loot and wonder how they can spend so much money while growing it without attracting attention. They think of various ways – from social service to trade till finally they settle on…. Politics. So that is what this is all about – kickbacks, ‘kitna taka mera’, under the table, over the table and everywhere else – just ways to make a bundle – and a big one at that. So no wonder then that power corrupts.
And when it comes to swaying the electorate, they’ll stop at nothing to pull out any and all tricks out of the bag to win. A terrible past, a criminal offence, a foreigner by birth, the lack of a cell phone, a pregnant teenage daughter - the list is endless. 2 days after Palin’s nomination comes news that her teenager daughter is five months pregnant. Wham! To all those conservative Republicans. Did Ms Palin suddenly realize this???? I remember the movie Sweet Home Alabama. Patrick Dempsey’s mother is a politician, and the minute her son breaks news of his engagement to a small known NY fashion designer – Reese Witherspoon to his mother, she calls a quick meeting to pull all skeletons out of the Reese’s closet, before her rivals get wind of it all. This was comedy in the movie. But this really happens in India. As if politics is all about scandals and glitzy gossip. No wonder then that politics can be likened to movies and many film stars and crooks have excelled at politics! Indian politics provides a continuous news feed to the 24x7 news channels. When we have bandits, gangsters, accused murderers, even convicts – who file nominations from prison, politics in India is nothing short of drama on a massive scale. One truly wonders when Condoleeza Rice talks of the alliance between US and India as an alliance between 2 democracies – the oldest and the largest! We are the most populous country with a ‘democratic’ form of Government, no doubt. But to what extent is our population enfranchised? And to what extent are we exploiting a very exclusive right? I remember a report on Afghanistan soon after the Taliban government was ousted. Men and women were dancing on the streets overjoyed at the fact that they could finally have a say in the government. And here, abstaining from voting seems to be the best thing we can do for the country.
Take for instance the newest political drama in Maharashtra.
A fervor that when unbridled in unemployed youth can blow up into something unmanageable! There are scores of issues facing the country these days. Unemployment, creaky infrastructure, poverty, a global economic meltdown. This is a time that calls for unity, calls for a united effort to solve common ills. Dividing a state under the garb of regionalism will not lead us anywhere near progress. The issue was the fact that railway vacancies in Maharashtra were not advertised locally. Ok, the issue is a legitimate one. But beating candidates? What will that achieve? Other party people swoop in and gather brownie points on the sympathy that follows these victims. Another theatrical arrest in the dead of the night. Yet again newspapers and TV channels get enough for a 24x7 unique feed! Irony comes to the fore, as newspapers hunt out Maharashtrians whose property was damaged in an offshoot of the violence. Pages and pages are dedicated to the cause of Marathi! Language is supposed to bind people through literature. The USP of India has been ‘unity in diversity’. A Muslim celebrating Diwali, a Hindu wishing a Muslim on Eid, Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Christians coming together on Christmas. Somewhere in the murkiness of politics, all that beauty has been lost to regional, sectarian and communal divide. A regression of sorts, indeed. Extrapolate this situation a little bit, and you have a cartoon that is doing the rounds these days – Think about it…..
I think it is high time we started acting like civilized, educated human beings with a mission and a purpose in life. Just being called an ‘emerging economy’ will not ensure sustained investment and growth. But frivolous destruction and hurdles to progress will almost certainly stop any chances of growth!