Wednesday, 22 October 2014

HOPES OF AN IDEALIST

Hopes of an idealist

A country is cursed when its leaders are criminals. That has been the case with India where increasingly criminals are pretending to be political leaders and they are getting elected to the legislatures. That sounds scary for a country which claims to be a democracy where legislators are chosen through democratic process. Indians, then, are choosing criminals to represent them. We are all complicit in this grotesque activity by allowing criminals to enter the scared legislatures where the laws of the land are legislated. 

A recent study by the Maharashtra Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms shows that out of 288 elected members of the Legislative Assembly in the state, 165 have criminal cases against them, many being serious offences. That hardly comes as a surprise, given the tendency in India to use money and muscle power to win the elections. The money is often ill-gotten and muscle power gradually takes control. The story is similar in several other states across India. Often there are talks that the trend needs to be reversed and the recent decisions of the Supreme Court of India has offered a ray of hope to the civilised people of the country. But a lot more needs to be done, especially educating people in the lower strata about the need to reject criminals as their representatives. 

That, however, is not going be easy. The entire phenomenon of criminals in politics is the product of poverty, illiteracy, caste discrimination and other forms of prejudices, caste-based politics, besides lack of protection for the people who are harassed. To overcome all of that is a Herculean task which would require near-autocratic rule of a government committed to free politics of rotten elements. So far the indications are not encouraging. The political parties keep fielding candidates who are known for their criminal behaviour and antecedents. Their candidature leaves the citizens with fewer options; the ordinary man is often forced to choose between the greater evil and the lesser evil, but evil nonetheless. Which is a shame. It shows that in India honest people are not attracted to politics; it's not a decent field any more. The days of high ideals and dedication to serve are distant memories which could soon be forgotten. 

But isn't it possible for honest people to counter this phenomenon and stand up against the crooks? Can't there be a peoples' movement in this country which will uphold the true spirit of democracy and the Constitution? It's not too difficult as we have seen in the recent past when social activist Anna Hazare led a movement which spread across India. Sadly it fizzled out over a period of time due to lack of direction and largely because of political ambition of a section of people who were associated with the movement. That ambition was not wrong, except that they were not the right people to be in politics. Just as the criminals are bad for politics, people without any concrete vision about governance are no good. 

I think we cannot depend on some media-created heroes to save the nation. We have to empower ourselves and believe in our strengths. Honest people must unite in the name of India and uphold the Constitution, and do everything for the course correction.  

So ideally we need hundreds of thousands of honest people among us who will have clear vision for the nation and society. For that all of us need to be alert, we need to educate ourselves about the goal of the nation and strive to excel as individuals and as citizens of this country. Honest people must empower themselves and move up the echelons. If such people unite for a common cause to clean up the nation from the scourge of corruption, then they can become a political force. 

These people should have clear ideas about how to govern for betterment of the country. They must shun gimmicks and theatrics that we witnessed when a certain individual occupied the Delhi chief minister's office for few days in 2013-early 2014. We don't need that sort of people. We need people who are willing to achieve something positive, through affirmative action and not stunts. And they all need to be free from biases --- social and regional. India needs that kind of force now. That force could destroy the current set of political parties. But, so be it. From those ruins we can rebuild the nation and politics, brick by brick.

I am always hopeful.