• Walter Salvadore Pereira


According to a senior journalist, the politicians in India are akin to royalty. So much so, many a young man today aspires to become a politician, as opposed to the previous generations where careers like doctor, lawyer, etc. were preferred choices. One reason for this shift in goals could be the prospects of huge financial gains. While a doctor or lawyer has to undergo an apprenticeship of a few years and then slog for several years more to build up a reputation in order to be able to reap monetary rewards, in the case of a successful politician the rewards are in hand almost right from the beginning itself. No wonder then that one sees dynasties in politics, with the baton of power passed from father to son or daughter or nephew. It may also be the reason why in recent years several retired sportspersons, as well as film actors who are past their prime years, have been making a foray into politics in the hope of getting a second bite at the cherry.

[1] The roots of the modern day politician

So, from where did this super breed of demigods, flaunting their vast ill-gotten wealth, suddenly spring from?

A politician, on the condition of anonymity, emphatically claims that the politician’s existence predates that of God himself. (He even goes on flippantly to claim that not merely the mankind but the entire universe owes its existence to the politician who by his casting vote ensured that the present incumbent of the heavenly throne got the reigns of power when pitted against the devil, when the previous one opted out for personal reasons. This also goes to show how wrong those holding the view that the late Vijay Merchant’s was the original casting vote that mattered, at least as far as Indians are concerned (make it cricket-crazy Indians!)

Jesting apart, there are those who would says that India always had a rich tradition of politicians of the calibre of Chanakya, Birbal, etc. This, of course, would be negated by others saying those famous personalities were, in fact, courtiers and couldn’t be termed as politicians as such. Also, their primary purpose was to serve the ruler and not the populace. Viewed in that context, the self-professed function of the modern day politician is to serve the common man, although nothing could be farther than truth.

Yet another stream of thought sees today’s politician having evolved from the freedom fighter of the pre-Independence years. Clad impeccably in spotless white shirt and pants or dhoti or lungi, today’s politician has shades of resemblance to the freedom fighter of the Gandhi era dressed in coarse khadi outfits, but alas, the similarity ends there. While the freedom fighter was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of laying his life in fighting for the noble cause of freedom, his so-called modern counterpart in stark contrast is arrogance personified. His greeting with folded hands lacks warmth; his fake half-smile lacks sincerity. Both come unstuck at a moment’s inconvenience, revealing his ugly selfishness and whosoever is at the receiving end is scorched by his wrath.

[2] What does the politician stand for?

India has completed 72 years since attaining independence. For a major part of that period, the country has been under one-party rule, with three generations of a family at its helm. In the states too, the dynasty rule was perpetuated and if at all there was a change of guard, it was because the outgoing chief had no male offspring.

There no doubt that urban India has seen significant progress, but if one were to view it in comparison with a country like Singapore, it wouldn’t stand out. Also, the progress has eluded the rural regions, which find themselves still languishing in a primitive condition, bereft of basic needs like electricity, potable water and public sanitation. This has led to a widening chasm between the affluent and weaker sections of the country.

The role of the politician should have been to push for the welfare of the electorate who had reposed their faith in him, but invariably, it was like the idiom of “the fence eating the crop”. Decade after decade, the sad story was that of plunder, neglect and dereliction of duty. Also, in province after province, the story was exactly similar. If at all a region bucked the trend, it was not because those at the helm were honest, but the gains were so humongous that even after the plunder there was still enough left on the table.

The majority of the politicians simply ignored the fact that they had been chosen to safeguard the rights of the voters. Instead, they have been unscrupulously engaged in lining their own pockets. If a factual survey were to be carried out today, it wouldn’t come as a surprise that the politicians had amongst them the largest number of crorepatis compared to any other vocation.

The news channels have revealed recently an extremely disconcerting report about the growing number of MPs (Members of Parliament) and MLAs (Members of Legislative Assembly) with criminal records. There are as many as 5 MPs from the ruling party and 4 from the main opposition party among those elected during the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls with serious criminal cases against them. The numbers relating to MLAs is 116 from the ruling party and 29 from the main opposition party. If such persons with tainted past are part of the team chosen to guard our Constitution and frame our laws, one shudders to think what the future holds for our beloved nation?

[3] Is there is hope for India?

There is a ray of hope for new India, with the younger generation taking up the challenge. With this awakening, comes the sign that a new crop of politicians after all may be in the making, capable of placing the needs of the country ahead of their own. This was very much evident by the views voiced by millions of young voters who cast their votes in the recently concluded parliament elections. On live interviews conducted by leading television channels, those young voters were quite vocal in expressing their right to satisfactory jobs as their prime demand. Viewed in conjunction with the commendable achievements of the central government under Mr. Narendra Modi, which has rightly earned him an encore from the electorate, one can hope that such hopes will turn into reality, heralding the advent of a new vibrant India.

Jai Hind.

Walter Salvadore Pereira

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Copyright Walter Salvador Pereira 2019