Democracy is no doubt one of the best form of governance available for civilized mankind, but a natural breed of mature and talented politicians is a must for making it deliver. For democracy to succeed there should be an established channel for successful people from all walks of life to graduate into political roles. This is not happening in many major democracies and unfortunately India is one among them. Instead, a new breed of politicians is infesting the political arena and vitiating the process of democracy in almost all the developed and developing countries where democratic values have taken strong roots and people are happy with democratic ways of tackling national issues. Politicians are indispensable for the working of any democracy and true democracy can flourish only when politicians are free to operate without any fear and favour. But the new breed of politicians viz. Career Politicians are spoiling the whole concept of democracy. The situation is worsening day by day in all democracies with the advent of a mix of career and hereditary politicians. Both are equally bad and a combination is even more damaging to the best form of human governance.
The success or failure of democracy in a country is solely dependent of the quality of politicians that operate in it. If there are politicians with good intent, there is every possibility of having a good government which will represent majority aspirations. But that alone will not take the country forward. There should be talented visionary politicians to run the government and guide the nation. They will know what is good for the people even when the people themselves may not be appreciative of it. This quality of formulating policies which are for the well being of the society comes out of education and talent. It is not something which is inborn but can only be developed by education and experience. Professionals who are good in one field always find it easy to understand others’ work and efforts. Politics should not become a profession but professionals are needed in politics if development and deliverance are the purpose of governance.
When we are analyzing politicians it is important to understand what essentially is politics? What is expected of politicians in a democracy? Whatever be its dictionary meaning, in democratic India it has deteriorated to the level of merely taking part in elections and always trying to be part of the government that rules. If one is successful one becomes part of the government and if not, part of the opposition ranks criticizing the government and waiting for the next opportunity to seize power. Most politicians carry out these ‘responsibilities’ well and many of them excel as rulers. The attraction of power is an ever lasting fascination for ordinary politicians and the more they taste it more hungry they become. Nothing succeeds like success and successful Indian politicians are always those who get into the right political party at the right time. It was much easier during the pre-anti defection era. But now also they achieve the same by right mergers and forming new election fronts, before or after the elections to make up the numbers without any rhyme, reason or shame.
Is this all that is expected of politicians in a democracy? Not at all. Ideal politicians must be proficient in so many other aspects apart from elections and governance. I would consider representation and thinking for the well-being of the majority of utmost importance. A good politician must have proper social transducers to pick up the opinion of the majority in his political constituency (not only geographical) on all major issues. Then he (or she) should be capable of articulating this majority opinion in the proper forums including the assembly or parliament or party avenues. But the most critical action that is expected from a politician involves thinking for the majority. It is impossible to get a single opinion from a mob and that is why we have representatives speaking on our behalf. But the representative’s opinion must be in the best interest of the majority even if many of the constituency may not agree. For that to happen the elected political representative must be not only be educated but experienced and capable of taking independent decisions. Only a good professional who can win bread for him and his family can become a good politician in any democracy.
There in no doubt that politics is dirty and it is truly difficult to live up to the expectations of others. But it is not at all difficult if one can live up to one’s own expectations. Those who have no self respect cannot expect others to respect you. Most of the politicians fail in this aspect. Many of them are without any formal education and very few are professionals. Most of them do not know any job other than that of the so called public (dis)service. Even professionally qualified politicians like lawyers, doctors, engineers, accountants etc., do not take the trouble of practicing their own trained profession even for a day. In the Indian political scene, most of the politicians are lawyers but I am cent percent sure that 90% of them cannot argue properly in any court of law. Quite in contrast we are fully aware of the contributions made by professional lawyers like Gandhiji, Nehru, Patel, Ambedkar, Santhibushan, Jethmalani, Nariman, Sibal, Jaitley etc., to the realm of politics. These lawyer politicians were (are) capable of feeding their own families by practicing law. Society and nation are just extensions for them.
Politics as a profession for a career is the worst that can happen in a democracy and that is what is happening in a functioning democracy like India. Degeneration of our democratic framework can be traced back to this dangerous reality. There is no minimum qualification to enter this profession and there are no minimum standards to be maintained for climbing the career ladder. The most unqualified and unscrupulous are proving to be most successful in politics. Those who are more visible inside and outside the parliament are those who do not participate in the law making process and debates about India’s development and future. Most of them are blissfully ignorant of the requirements of a struggling population and the options available in terms of technology, infrastructure and resources for taking India forward. Many are sitting in the law making bodies only by virtue of their heredity or seniority in career politics. Once out of power, many of them will be like fish out of water that will die without oxygen (money). What more justification is required for rampant corruption while in power?
Monthly remuneration of members of Indian parliament has been recommended to be increased three or four fold to more than Rs. 80,000/- per month. The interesting argument is that it should be at least one rupee more than the maximum emoluments of a professional in government because of protocol and hierarchy. This is in addition to so many other perks and an average monthly expenditure on each lawmaker will be definitely more than Rs. 200,000/- of public money. Do all of them deserve so much for their worth and work? Definitely not. Only those who can earn that much money by their own professional merit deserve that much remuneration for being in politics. It is time for democratic India to think seriously about minimum qualifications for being in politics and state funding for elections to encourage successful professionals to venture into politics. Left to career and hereditary politicians, Indian democracy will be in shambles in not so distant future.