Home arrow Archives arrow Open Forum arrow Open Forum 2010 arrow Need Good People:DON’T REDUCE POLITICS TO A JOKE, by V.S. Dharam Kumar, 26 Aug, 2010
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
Need Good People:DON’T REDUCE POLITICS TO A JOKE, by V.S. Dharam Kumar, 26 Aug, 2010 Print E-mail

Open Forum

New Delhi, 26 August 2010

Need Good People


By V.S. Dharma Kumar


Why do people have a poor opinion of politicians? Why do they view them as unreliable, misleading, pretentious and self-centred? And why is that most people believe that the vast majority of the politicians aren’t capable of doing anything other than throwing tantrums at will?


Politicians get a bad name, being judged by the worst excesses of a very small minority like the woman MLC in Bihar who threw flower pots all over the place and then pretended to have fainted. In fact, there is a mocking populism to hating politicians. And there is also the scornful suggestion that people enter politics for personal gain. Sadly, this view has gained further currency with the recent issue of pay rise for MPs in the news.  


It is the relentless lampooning, satirizing, making jokes about politicians that has led to their having a very poor image. And this poor public image, created through such mockery and comedy, is seriously dissuading the best talent to the profession of politics.


Politics is the art of governing, especially that of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs. Failure to attract the right type of people into such an important public affair can do serious harm to the nation’s interests. Clearly, there is a political talent drain. Worse, the failure to take note of it will do further damage to the nation.


A pertinent question could be: Is it possible to run a country without politicians having power? When the aim is to give power to the people, who else is better qualified than the politicians? Indeed, someone must have the power. Imagine for a moment that the power the politicians wield today is transferred to the Army or the bureaucrats. The two never face an election after their selection. The most powerful man in the world is not a General but a politician and in all democratic countries, it is the latter who controls both military and bureaucratic power.


Importantly, mocking of politicians goes back a long way. It can be traced to the very foundation of democracy in ancient Athens in around 500 BC—the first-ever known democracy. But today, the situation has surpassed all imagination. It is all very well for the public and the media to keep the peoples’ servants under constant watch. What is not right is ridiculing them for no rhyme or reason.  


One such example is the jokes on the Internet. A sample: A busload of politicians was driving down a country road. The bus ran off the road and dashed against a tree and crashed into an old farmer’s field. The farmer, after seeing what happened, proceeded to dig a big pit to bury the politicians. A few days later, the local sheriff came to the crash site and asked the old farmer: “Were they all dead?” The old farmer replied, “Well, some of them said they weren’t, but you know how the politicians’ lie!”


The big question then is: Why do the politicians lie? Are they pathological liars? No. They tell lies for the same reason as most of us do. It can be for money or for votes. Another explanation is that people expect too much from the politicians, forgetting that politics is too complicated a landscape and that no one can survive it by telling only the truth. Here the best survival tactic is to embellish both facts and lies.


Sadly, the world-over, politicians are apparently regarded as accomplished liars. Take the example of the annual competition held in Cumbria, England, for telling lies. While competitors from around the world participate, politicians and lawyers are barred because they are judged to be too skilled at telling lies!


Not enough, there is another joke on robbing politicians: In New York, a mugger jumped into the path of a well-dressed man and stuck a gun in his ribs. “Give me your money!” he demanded. Indignant, the affluent man replied, “You can’t do this — I’m a US Congressman!”  “In that case,” replied the robber, “give me MY money!” Whether we like it or not jokes on politicians are galore and politician-bashing appears to be a favourite pastime of the entertainment industry be it in New York or New Delhi.


However, a good thing about politicians is that they relish jokes, even if they are about them. They do not throw people into prison for poking fun at them. And, in India, ridiculing politicians seems to be on the increase. No matter what, politicians may lie and they may rob, but they continue to occupy offices of great authority. And this is world-over.


But by indulging too much in this harmless hobby, an unfortunate impression has gone down that political leaders have lost credibility, politics is the last refuge of scoundrels. I have had the privilege of seeing them from close quarters and working for some of the leading politicians of the country. I have a different point of view.


The great thing about the politician’s job is that if we happen to differ with him for his lack of ability or corruption, we can simply vote him out of public office. They lose their jobs faster than anybody else does. How many top civil servants have lost their jobs for incompetence or dishonesty? Politicians work long hours. They see less of their family members than bureaucrats do.


They earn far less than most corporate executives. Imagine the number of people an MP will have to meet every day and imagine the number of problems his constituents bring before him. Also imagine the number of public meetings, weddings and funerals he attends. Politicians are helping hands. They help us in our need and take our request to the national level. They are hard working people.


Above all imagine the difficulty of first getting a ticket for contesting.  The profession of politics is no exemption. There are politicians who have become corrupt and stopped caring for the people. Over the past few decades they have devalued public service. No democracy in the world can boast of 100 per cent clean politicians. It is unfair to say that politics is the last refuge of scoundrels or, only losers in other professions enter it.


Today’s talented and upright youngsters should look at politics as a career option. If good people do not join politics, men with money and muscle power will take over and that will be disastrous for the nation. If the forum of politicians is to be expanded, more active members will be needed. But seeing the ridicule heaped on the politicians, how can one expect well-qualified and upright people enter this profession? ---INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)


< Previous   Next >
  Mambo powered by Best-IT