The nefarious politics of money power, criminalisation, deceit and demagoguery has to be eliminated. Ethical people must come forward to fulfill the dream of our constitution makers.
The nation is celebrating the 130th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar today. He is not only remembered as the author of our Constitution but for the great insight he had about the working of the Constitution in the future . He famously said “However good a constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be bad lot. However bad a constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot.” Today we need to ponder over it.
India, as an independent nation, opted for democratic governance and has struggled along for the last seven decades, meeting disappointments on many fronts but continuing to repose faith in democracy. The main reason for the dismal progress has been bad governance. With few exceptions, notorious and immoral people kept occupying prime positions, elected by huge margins and this narrative continues ad infinitum, solely because principled people remain aloof from active politics considering it to be ‘the last refuge of the scoundrel’. The fact remains that democracy is here to stay and to make it work people of proven competence, integrity and responsibility have to come forward and displace those who have captured the reins of power, by default.
The nefarious politics of money power, criminalisation, deceit and demagoguery has to be eliminated. Ethical people must come forward to fulfil the dream of our constitution makers. There is no alternative. But good people balk from entering the political arena as they feel that it is too dirty an arena where only the corrupt and unprincipled can survive who have undergone long apprenticeships in cowardice. We must introspect on what the great German playwright and thinker Bertold Brecht aptly wrote, “The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.”
Gandhiji had conscientiously responded to this clarion call of society. In his autobiography, he candidly explained, “To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life. That is why my devotion to Truth has drawn me into the field of politics”. During the long freedom struggle, there were lacs of people who helped, supported, financed and participated in the freedom movement in various ways , though history books mention only a few of these brave hearts and participants. Truly , only those who remain in the forefront are those who remain in the public eye and are remembered as leaders. But these front line leaders could not have succeeded in their endeavours to achieve independence for our country without the active participation and support of thousands and thousands of these unnamed participants, satyagrahis , activists, donors , in the freedom movement. It is akin to making a movie where hundreds of professionals and personnel work hard , behind the scenes , but only the leading actors and actresses come in public view and collect all the accolades for the success of the movie . Similarly , in politics also people have to participate in every way they can , choosing for themselves the role they want to play, to revolutionise the way politics is done today.
There has to be clarity of objective in entering the political arena. Political power is the means to ensure progress and prosperity for the people and not an end in itself. If the country is to realize its unlimited potential, then the time has come to embrace ‘new politics’ – a paradigm shift in the way politics is conducted in the country. The chasm between ‘words’ and ‘action’ has to be bridged. The brazen agenda of feathering one’s own nest while cooking the goose of the common man- has to be discarded forthwith.
Time has come to shun our inveterate apathy towards politics. Ambedkar had aptly asserted that “the world owes much to rebels who would dare to argue in the face of the pontiff and insist that he is not infallible.’’ All these maai baap styles of venal politics wherein every sarkar becomes corrupt and unassailable after assuming power and fattens itself by preying on funds of the deprived and deserving and solely promotes the fortunes of their own kindred-needs to be battled electorally and ousted permanently .Good politics will only redress social evils by competent, principled and collective action. It is overdue . Let us occupy this vast Political Space now.
(Vijay Shankar Pandey is former Secretary to Government of India)