example, when the Janata Party took over from the Congress
at the centre in 1977, it brought about significant changes
in the government's economic and social policies. Power
shifts brought deep policy shifts in their wake. You could
literally expect to live different life when a different
party took office.
take the leading national or state level political parties
(or alliances) of today. Excluding the very few, top-level
leaders, almost all politicians across parties can be interchanged
- they fit just as well in the opposing party. Parties have
become temporary alliances of individual convenience while
alliances are now temporary get-togethers of parties. One
important consequence of this development is that the nature
of party or alliance coming to power does not significantly
influence the government's policies in key sectors. Irrespective
of whether the NDA or the Congress-Left comes to power in
Delhi, the next government would almost certainly follow
the same basic set of economic, social or defence policies.
Our lives would not change dramatically if one party loses
and the other wins. Just take a look at the manifestos of
the major political parties: they look very similar!
once, this is both an encouraging and discouraging sign.
because it reflects a certain maturity in our political
process. Since the past few years, major political parties
and (especially) their alliances have moved towards the
centre of the political spectrum. Therefore, elections and
power shifts in India do not bring radical changes in its
society. Compare this to the situation in many immature
democracies of Africa and Asia, where a party winning or
losing could literally make the difference between life
or death for thousands of people. The past and present politicians
deserve credit for this achievement.
the core level, if political parties do not matter, then
who really does? Now, it is the individual politicians themselves
who have a greater capacity to make a difference. Personality
politics is now greater than party politics. Unfortunately,
only a few politicians have realized the value of this unprecedented
opportunity to play a big role.
can safely expect most of our legislators and ministers,
without even looking at their latest party affiliations,
to quickly discover the least controversial way of doing
their jobs. The path of least resistance (which is often
the past of least efficacy) has become the path to their
salvation. That is why the blurring of differences between
political parties is also a discouraging sign. Precisely
because it does not carry the prospect of any radical change
in the way our country or state will be run.
is that a problem?
a big one. There are several burning issues where we desperately
need our leaders to think creatively and act decisively.
Our country is currently facing several problems of enormous
magnitude: unemployment of millions, lack of water security
for nearly two-thirds of Indian population, lack of social
security and justice for large number of sections in our
society, enormously high fiscal deficits especially of the
state governments and increased meshing of criminalization-corruption-politics
are just a few.
These are not problems that can be solved by the run-of-the-mill
netas. In fact, these current issues are far more difficult
than the issues of imperial rule and foreign aggression
addressed some decades ago. Such serious problems of India
can be addressed only by the collective and informed assertion
of the citizens. We also need genuine leaders. Leaders who
have the vision to identify the right issues, the ability
to evolve and articulate the right solutions and then have
the conviction and character to ensure the delivery of these
solutions to the target groups of citizens.
that is real, 100% shuddh politics.