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India And Its Politicians

Living here for so many years, one comes to appreciate the greatness that is India, its boundless spirituality, its people, their hospitality, their generosity and openness. More than that, it is the acceptance of Others which makes India unique, the acceptance that you may be Christian, or Muslim, White or Yellow, French or Mongolian, and that “you are a human being like us, that I accept you with your difference”.

Then the question may be asked: if a country’s politicians are a reflection on the quality of its people, why is it that India’s politicians seem at this moment to be of a very low quality? How is it that what when one looks right now at the political scene of India, one has the impression that Indian politicians have never stooped so low, that the degradation of ethics in Indian politics may have reached an unsurpassed level of cynicism, opportunism, corruption and debasement?

Take the Amarnath episode, for instance, when an entire community in Kashmir rioted against their government, not understanding that they are so privileged here, that for their sacred pilgrimage to the Haj, the Government grants them land, facilities, subsidies and even dedicated officials. Unfortunately, not a single politician from the present government had the courage to say openly that it was wrong of Kashmiris not allow their Hindu brothers and sisters to have even temporary facilities at a very difficult altitude for their bodily need and shelters.

What has happened now, after the Left withdrew support and the Congress went to bed with Mulayam Singh, their worst enemy, is even more shameful. The most alarming element though, is that the Indian press is very well aware of the facts: it knows that Amar Singh made a deal with Congress to prosecute Mayawati, and to favour Anil Ambani’s businesses by trying to push for certain laws. The media also knows that the Congress is buying right and left MP’s for the vote of confidence, maybe with money which has been channelled from the US via Amar Singh when he was there last month. It may even know that the West is seeing in this (good) nuclear deal a way to cap India’s nuclear military arsenal, because the industrialized nations do not think that the so-called developing world has the maturity to handle nuclear weapons. This ‘matter-of-fact’ cynicism of the Indian media, without even a whiff of shock, anger, frustration or rebuttal, which are the true tools of a good journalist, is what makes the moment appear dangerous.

So again the questions arise and we can even extend it: do the politicians and the journalists of this country, the former perpetrating the near-asuric deeds, and the second pretending they do not see them, reflect the true nature of India? Well, firstly, there are several factors in Indian politics which indirectly enhance its debasing factor: one is the respect of elders which is a wonderful thing here and which we have lost in the West, that makes for Indian politicians who are well past their physical prime. Two, the spirit of bhakti, which allows for what we call in the West ‘dynasty’, that is thinking that in the son or daughter or even wife of a so called-great politician, there is transmitted something of his or her greatness and allows families like the Nehru’s to rule from father to son, to grandson to wife of the grandson, although all may not have the qualities of a Nehru. The spirit of shakti, or the recognition that women incarnate virtues which sometimes escape men, such as honesty, dedication and even courage, and allow for an Indira Gandhi to rule India with an iron hand for twenty years and today her daughter in law to be the ‘eminence grise’ of India.

This said, there is nothing wrong with Indian politicians (or journalists), many of them, individually at least, are people of quality, sensible intelligent human beings, who privately may not say the same thing that they utter publicly. No, it is only the system put in place by Nehru, which was borrowed from the British without caring to Indianize it, which has been perverted. It is true that it was, at least in the beginning, put in place out of idealism, to bridge the gap between the very rich to the very poor, to abolish caste inequalities, to promote human values and find politicians at the grassroots level. But what happened in the last sixty years was that this system has been totally hijacked and twisted to the point that we can see today, that in the name of democracy, a Government which in minority, which is flouting openly all values of decency and honesty, which has lost the trust of the people, is able to continue damaging India’s fabric, taking advantage of the fact that the majority of Indians, who are Hindus, are rather low-key, that they do not riot and descend in the streets when they are unhappy, that they see things but keep quiet about it. We know now that to get elected in India as an MP you need at least ten crores, whereas officially you are allowed only a few lakhs. So where else to get the balance, but from industrialists wanting favours or from arm deals ?

So if the system is wrong, what to do? Change it of course ! But for that you need three things: one a strong leader with vision, courage and love for his or her country; two, a strong majority which will allow for enough numbers to pass radical laws through parliament; and three, constitutional experts who can rewrite some of the basic tenets of India’s constitution, such as this parliamentary democracy, with a president who has no power and wastes a lot of the time and funds of the tax payers, to a presidential system, with a strong President and a Prime Minister from the majority. It is also clear that the educational and judicial systems have to be reformed and indianized.

From time to time, Mother India, throws-up one great man, a yogi, an avatar, or a vibhuti, who comes and revolutionizes the entire country. It is true that most of the times these are spiritual persons: an Adi Shankara, a Kabir, a Guru Nanak or a Sri Aurobindo. But will India this time throw-up a politician, with some degree of spirituality, who will save the great land of India? Let us hope so, because it is in great danger now.

Let us listen in conclusion to the wisdom of Sri Aurobindo who was a politician, a yogi, a poet and a philosopher in one : “India, shut into a separate existence by the Himalayas and the ocean, has always been the home of a peculiar people with characteristics of its own, with its own distinct civilisation, way of life, way of the spirit, a separate culture, arts, building of society. it has absorbed all that has entered into it, put upon all the Indian stamp, welded the most diverse elements into its fundamental unity…India’s history throughout has been marked by a tendency, a constant effort to unite all this diversity of elements into a single political whole under a centralized rule, so that India might be politically as well as culturally one”…

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