it is any comforting, the 'pandering-to-power' disease is
also found in other oriental societies, immature democracies
and dictatorships. Just take the case of Saddam Hussain.
Until March this year, he was literally living a life fit
for ten kings. We used to see him on TV with fawning courtiers
or delirious crowds chanting his name and extolling his
greatness. What happened to his highness? A fortnight ago,
he was caught like a "mountain rat" from his spider
hole where he was hiding. The ruthless dictator who lived
in vulgarly large palaces was caught hiding in a 6-by-8
feet hole in the ground.
now, every respectable citizen in Iraq is queuing up to
condemn Saddam. Many want to see him dead even before his
interrogation is completed. Anything and everything wrong
in Iraqi society is directly attributed to his 25 years
of dictatorship. Instead of blaming it all on Saddam, they
also need to carefully analyze the systemic reasons for
the collapse of Iraqi civil society.
a lesser extent, we experienced the same phenomenon when
past Prime or Chief Ministers in India went out of power.
This is the result of citizens' incorrect perception of
the meaning of 'power', especially political power. We pander
too much to those who are in power but do not show even
a minimum respect to those who are out of power. The leaders
who are raised to the heavens today are simply condemned
once they lose their elections. First deify; then crucify.
First lionize; then demonize.
tendency to place all the credit or blame on a single politician
prevents us from recognizing our strengths and realizing
our own responsibilities. As a result, the citizen's capacity
to influence governance and political affairs is reduced.
Gradually, the link between political power and good governance
is broken. Just look at states like Bihar.
the citizens, have to be very clear about our own position
vis-à-vis those who are 'in power':
Political power, in essence, is the capacity to influence
change. Nothing more and nothing less.
In democracies like India, the true political power flows
from us, the ordinary people. The elected leaders are there
only to implement our agenda.
Since we live in a representative democracy, we temporarily
entrust our political power to an elected representative.
For example, we entrust legislative power to an MLA or MP
for a maximum period of five years through elections. These
leaders are nothing but temporary custodians of people's
am not suggesting that we show disrespect to those who are
in positions of power and influence. There are many Indians,
including politicians, who did not get into such positions
by mere good luck. They have worked tremendously hard and
served the society. They took unimaginable risks and dared
to stand by their convictions. Such leaders truly deserve
our respect for their sincerity and courage, and our admiration
for their vision and leadership. But, we can always show
our sincere respect in a dignified and graceful manner.
the times are changing. Until recently, most of us were
literally terrified of our political leaders. But Indians
today are much more knowledgeable and confident. We are
not afraid to speak to our political leaders directly. Since
the last few elections, we are seeing very ordinary people
question the antecedents and policies of bada netas on TV,
in front of millions of viewers. We have now realized that
it is not difficult to assert our constitution-given rights,
in a polite and graceful manner. The leaders are there only
to serve us. The time has come to eradicate the 'pandering-to-power'
disease from our society.