Yes, it looks like that! Causes and what can be done about it?
In the West, both in the USA and Europe they talk of political apathy. In India we have to talk of political decline, decline in the quality of politics.
No one talks of this trend, the current trend is very visible both in the public conduct of politicians, legislators, specially the MPs who now make daily news.
Parliament now has voted itself that is the MPs voted themselves hefty hikes in their monthly salaries, something like two lakhs rupees per month besides other perks. Only lately there was this abolition subsidized food at their canteens. Only if you had been to their premises, of course it is very old-fashioned, their quarters are unlivable, so said some self-respectable MPs and yet they, the MPs still command great deal of awe and respect from the unsuspecting public;
Lately, they, the MPs, have earned undeserving (or deserving?) ridicule from the public and the media for their less than below-status antics, in talk and behavior.
Disruption of Parliament by whosoever they are is much resented by the public and yet no one is willing to talk it out.
The present state of affairs.
Why politics declined? For a range of reasons; the recent past saw a great of corruption by the high and mighty be it politics or corporate world. Most of the high-profile classes are still pending and one or two might not see the light of the day in the end, the involvement of the office holders, in the states and at the centre.
May be role started with Indira Gandhi’s attempt to reassert herself after the Congress party split in 1969.Then,the emergency saw further deterioration.
The contribution of Sonia Gandhi years is also very significant. In fact, she started the real low caliber participants. At least Indira Gandhi had some capable Cabinet colleagues. Under Sonia Gandhi we saw real villains going for the big kill so to say!
So, politics became identified with corruption, conspiracy and unprincipled alliances. Just before me is a latest book, Ruled or Misruled, the story and destiny of Bihar by Santosh Singh (Bloomsbury).
It traces graphically the rise of politicians, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan and others. Most of them come from humble backgrounds, at least, some of them educated, in Tamil Nadu, another similar state where too Sonia Gandhi forged alliances, in TN, the entire political cast is from the film world! So you have the two states which have played host to Sonia Gandhi’s style of Congress politics.
The book narrates how Sonia Gandhi was ‘trapped’ by Lalu Prasad Yadav. I was struck by the exact parallels in the two states. In TN Sonia Gandhi has again been trapped by the DMK whose chief is more dangerous in the sense that the Congress-DMK nexus had brought down the entire high profile cast, the DMK ministers as well as the ministers of Sonia Gandhi crowd. The 2-G case is still unravelling and we are far from the exact extent from where the ultimate accused numbers will be revealed to the public.
And there is one more layer to the standards of politics. After Mr.Modi won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections the Indian public had a taste of the sort of politics we are just now entering. That is the name-calling. The choicest language, words, some really lowest quality, swearing words entered the Indian political discourse.
In this we have to add the two new politicians, the practitioners of choice abusive words, namely, Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee, two street fighters who proved they can take on established parties and their leaders. The Left in West Bengal, the CPI(M) in particular found to their horror their vocabulary let them down so badly. They seem to have been lost for ever! Mr.Modi, to his horror, after his historic march to Delhi found himself so humiliated or what seemed a minnow, the AAP leader who has a flair for choice abusive expressions. We restrain from citing those words.
Mr.Modi is also resorting, we are constrained to note, no less hurtful expressions. In this Mrs.Sonia Gandhi is also resorting or forced to retort in no less undignified manner.
To sum it up, the political culture in the country is sadly undergoing some radical way. It is not a happy augury. Now, politics is also changing. No more we are inclined to talk of values or ideals in politics.
Politics has become a power-grabbing game. Also politics is also becoming a business, blatantly so; openly it is seeking power and unaccounted wealth and more and more the same type of greedy activity.
One political commentator in the Financial Times (London) calls it political business and in India’s case more a dynasty business. Only in India perhaps the dynastic politics had survived for such a long time. Though we have examples wives and family members succeeding the fathers or husbands after they passed away or assassinated, as it is the case in many countries, but in India we see the dynastic politics had taken to such vast corruption and criminality.
The recent corruption cases are a striking example of how the rich and corrupt dares to go on and indulge in the very same business of election, quite undaunted. The most educated them all; those who had education and high reputation had entered active politics through the back doors, without contesting elections and abusing the political processes and thereby ruining all the established institutional mechanisms. All moral principles of truth and due process of law and legal and Constitutional provisions are given a go-by and yet show their faces in public and go about nothing wrong had been committed!
This is a sad state of affairs happening in a country led by such leaders like Gandhi and Nehru!
As the FT commentator further states, politics is now an industry and those engaged in it also give the same version of politics.
In some statics the elections are so corrupted that election time huge black money is distributed, in some states even the official machinery (police) is misused to distribute the money and on the election day voters get the currency notes along with a biriyani packet! Happy are the days of election with some drink too thrown in!
Democratic politics outwardly runs this way only. There is an intriguing silence everywhere.
No one talks it out or even discuss, except in hushed silence inside the rooms or closed doors more accurately!
How to reconcile the reality with the true state of affairs. Is India an open society, as we have understood in the west? No, not at all. It is a closed society, closed by the politicians, the political elite as well.
I don’t have an immediate clue on what to do for political reforms. In terms of a cultural prospective, all I can think of right now is the perception of a critic like Mathew Arnold who in the 19h century saw the decline in moral, political standards and called society of his time as ‘Barbarians’ and the ‘Philistines’ and the ‘Populace’ and he sought ‘Sweetness’ and ‘Light’. There is here some lesson too.