Monday, December 1, 2008

WHAT AILS OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM: PART I: POLITICS - A DIRTY WORD???

The Mumbai carnage has angered most Indians, and rightly so. The events have so upset most citizens of the city of Mumbai, and elsewhere too, that a majority of them are expressing very negative thoughts and words about our political establishment ( I donot want to use the word leaders for some of them and thus find it appropriate to use the word establishment). The news media is now full of citizens expressing their anguish at the happenings in Mumbai, and utter contempt and scorn for the politicians and their dirty politics. This was expected as we the people of India have had enough of terrorism to last us a life time.
We have had organised and co-ordinated bomb blasts in various cities of India; we have had random shootings in Bangalore . Each time a large number of innocent people have been killed, beside other damage. The government promises action but nothing substantial happens thereafter, and the events are soon forgotten, so it seems, because there are other more pressing commitments that our elected representatives need to attend to. However this time, these were no ordinary bomb blasts. This was active warfare - guns, grenades, boats, knives and what have you. The city and the nation were held to ransom for an extended period without respite. Iconic buildings in the commercial capital of India were targetted in co-ordinated attacks, coming in from the sea. Pitched battles were fought between the terrorists and the security forces. The whole thing was watched live by a large number of people and the images and sounds of fires, gunfire, blood, helplessness, bravery, courage, and the utter ruthlessness of the terrorists are etched on the minds of most people. The mood of the nation has become very angry, and politics has become a dirty word. In the present scenario there is a need to think calmly about what should be our future course of action and to take some time to understand what is implied by politics and politicians, and who do we think should be an ideal politician in our opinion OR do we now surmise that we do not need politics and politicians. In our disgust for the present bunch of the majority of our politicians we should not shun the word politics completely before we have had time to analyse what is wrong with our system. Is politics really a dirty word??

Politics as defined in the Free Dictionary means 'The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs'. This being so, politics is not only necessary; it is important for the governance of any nation, including India. India is the largest democracy in the world and comprises of about 1.1 billion people. The only form of governance that can reconcile the differences between this large (one-sixth of the human race) and diverse peoples is a democracy. Democracy is commonly understood to be 'of the people, by the people, for the people'. In India we follow a parliamentary form of representative democracy in which the government is exercised by the Prime Minister and his cabinet, which is subject to ongoing review, checks and balances by the legislative parliament elected by the people. Representative implies existence of a definite representative mechanism; periodic elections; political parties competing for political authority; existence of interest and pressure groups; and practice of Universal Adult Franchise. It stands to reason that elections are an inevitable process of a Representative Democracy. Right of the people to elect their representative is the fundamental feature of this system. 'A person engaged in or concerned with politics, esp. as a practitioner' is defined as a politician. Politicians are the people who stand for elections and get elected if a majority of the people in their constituency vote for them. Our politicians are our elected representatives. We have the politicians and the government that we voted for. They have not occupied the parliament by force - they have been elected by we the people. ...................... TO BE CONTINUED IN PART II

4 comments:

Usha Pisharody said...

That is yet another pertinent sentiment expressed here. It serves to provide further thought, and more determination that this time round, more stringent guidelines, and options be allowed before we vote.

While the institution of politics is necessary, and while the same politicians we hurl the choicest of abuses today are there because a majority of the electorate has voted them in, unless and until we are able to remove corruption, or at least those persons who have in some way been tainted by criminal record from contesting, this is what we shall face again, for sure. It is this pessimistic thought that keeps coming back to me. I will vote, I know, but then who would be there, that I could trust in, to carry forward a policy of welfare for the same people who elected him/her? What of that?

You know, today, in class I did bring up this notion, about politics not being bad, as you had suggested in a comment of yours. There was not much of a response, but then this is something they have to see in action, before they too can believe. For now, there are idealistic action movies, which uphold this principle of a clean politician only that they can connect to.

The words and actions of the self same politicians who are now engaged in self defence, are too dishonourable for words. Truly. Today a CM of a state has gone on record with a remark that is an insult to the grieving family of a martyr. What next?

I have rambled. But yes, I do understand the sentiment. It is very much in place, and someone somewhere needed to articulate it too. I am glad you did.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi JPJ :)

Have you forgotten that very recently Mumbaikars were killing and brutally beating up innocent people from Hindhi speaking states saying Mumbai is for Mumbaikars? Mayavathi and Lalu Prasad Yadav have not said much about these terror attacks!

When politicians help Mumbaikars to kill people from other states, they are good and when it come to their own lives, the politicians are bad. What an irony?

Have a good day :)

J P Joshi said...

Usha Pisharody: I do believe that not all politicians are bad. Although it is the bad ones who hog the limelight most of the time. Our legislative process is not bad at all. We have some of the finest laws in the world, but the implementation of these laws is very poor. Here, it is a two way street. The politicians interfere but the person who has to enforce the law bends. The ordinary politician cannot do anything without the concurrence from the bureaucracy, police or other government officials. Recollect how Seshan handled the politicians. I somehow blame the executive for all our problems. Raj Thackerey could have been put in jail by the SHO of the police station itself - he has the powers, but will he do it?

You are right about our present state of affairs and if we donot do anything now it will continue to worsen. Democracy needs the active participation of every citizen to deliver, more so from people who can actually contribute to common good.

My sole intention of writing this post is to air my views about the need for people to constructively engage rather than criticise. We always will get the government we deserve. We have had a horrific incident and this should lead us to introspect, after the initial trauma and anguish heal. The question that needs to be asked is 'Can we live with this? How can we improve things? What can I do here, now (I liked this sentence of yours)to make things better.'

J P Joshi said...

JP: You are right about the facts, but two wrongs donot make a right. Also, I donot remember anyone of consequence saying that Raj Thackerey was right - it was only he and his goons of MNS. What I hold against the people of Mumbai though is that they did not openly come out in protest against the injustice that was being done. Neutrality on such issues is not good. I remember Shiv Khera's saying which goes something like, 'if you donot stop injustice happening to your neighbour today, be rest assured that tomorrow it may be your turn'.