Self Expression Magazine

Political Dishonesty and Social Silence

By Aravindan Ingersol @iaravindan
 This is a very “generic” piece which I wrote on the topic- “Crisis of confidence over politicians and the system as it works today”- for a magazine, only to find my submission past the due date.

Political dishonesty and Social silence

Making a mockery of Indian Identity & Politics.
Cartoon  Courtesy- "THE OUTLOOK".

    Invoking the term ‘Politics’ or ‘Politicians’ from the cerebral cortex of an Indian brain, across the social or economic continuum of the Indian society, would evoke an unsurprising impulsive response characterized by a certain smugness, condescension and a sense of ignominy- the sense that entails when a self-appointed elite meets the subaltern. Politics in India, inter alia, is the abode of the corrupt, the dishonest, the incompetent and the morally bankrupt. There are indeed honest, capable and self-effacing politicians, albeit the breed is few and far between in contemporary Indian politics.             
           Any profession necessitates the need to be successful and our moral obligations demand the success to culminate through fair means. Success in politics, however, can be accomplished only at the expense of being expedient or blindfolded - the latter being the case for a right man in the wrong place; political success mandates the need to mortgage political honesty.

 Politics is essentially a business. The sooner we come to terms with that reality the better can be our response to obliterate the malaise plaguing Indian politics. As Mr.M.J.Akbar has brilliantly put forth in a recent piece in India Today magazine -“The existentialist dilemma before Indian democracy is stark: it cannot co-exist with financial honesty. It does not matter if you are personally incorruptible; you have to be institutionally corrupt in order to engage in the business of democracy. The moral code of elections is uncomplicated: Don't ask. Don't tell. And for God's sake don't get caught.”  

Political dishonesty and Social silence

A nation resting on the foundation of scams.
Cartoon Courtesy- "THE OUTLOOK"

   Panic alarms have been triggered and public discourse on Indian politics escalated- without necessarily an increase in the quality of the discourse, to hitherto unseen levels over the last few months in the light of a string of scams that shocked the nation. That begs the question of the reason for our deliberate indifference and inaction over the years on critical issues of corruption and public accountability. Where not politicians flagrantly flouting norms and relentlessly engaging in acts of corruption before? Or is it that they had a saintly glow over their heads a year back? Our reactions to scams and issues of corruption and accountability have always been knee-jerk in the immediate aftermath of an expose, deriving voyeuristic pleasures out of fruitless CBI raids on fraudsters, followed by a complete ‘social silence’.

            The ingrained idea of believing in acceptable levels of corruption and moral fudging, and societal complacency has wrecked havoc to the very system that we have toiled hard for years to build. Our public institutions are tottering under excessive bureaucracy, with bottlenecks masquerading as rules, cronyism working under the guise of public policy and excessive procedures that drives the common man as far away from the system as possible.  

Political dishonesty and Social silence

Social ineptitude and Silence.
Cartoon Courtesy- "THE OUTLOOK"

  We have largely been ineffective in tapping the huge potential of our democratic system. Our unabated and blind faith in putting back to office un-delivering and incapable politicians, every five years by means of elections, has inspired confidence on those kleptocrats to continue to fill their coffers unashamed at the cost of ignoring development and public welfare- the very reason for which they were elected in their first place. Our reluctance and intransigence as a society to exercise our fundamental right of free speech, and peaceful dissent, except in times of imminent and explicit transgressions, has rendered our institutions largely ineffective and weak to bring about any meaningful development. A legislature working (non-functioning would be rather apt in the current context) without much goal or purpose, acting as a mere ceremonial pillar of our democracy, isn’t helping our cause either.    It is time for us to move beyond our self contentment and complacency over the achievements and success stories of the last fifty three years of our democracy. A totally cynical and pessimistic approach wouldn’t help either, for it only breeds more distrust and contempt on our system. Only a critical and awakened civil society continuously striving for and demanding excellence can fast-track change and development. 

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