Nurturing Young Minds

Nurturing Young Minds

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nature of a Political Party and Political Activity

Political parties, in a democracy, aim at capturing power and then retaining power, ideally for the good of the people. In actual practice in India and many other countries, however, a political party aims at capturing and retaining power by any means, not essentially for the good of the people, but for the benefit of the party itself, and, in worse (read most) cases, for some of the individuals that control and lead the political party. The object of a political party in reality is, therefore, not primarily public welfare, but enjoyment of power, and amassing of wealth through power, and enjoying all other benefits that might accrue on account of being in the seat of power, or being close to it.
This is happening irrespective of the fact whether the people, or the leaders, in the political parties are highly educated , semi-educated or unlettered. The things in this regard are not radically different, be it India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.
Think. People, who are not very enlightened (being enlightened is different from being educated), are driven essentially by their emotions, and their intelligence is used primarily to fulfill their desires, which are also essentially in the nature of emotions. At the level of fundamental desires, in these countries, whatever be the causes, there is no great difference between and educated and an unlettered person. They all want power primarily for enjoying power, wealth and social status. Earlier, the emotions of humans used to be structured and moderated by some of our holy books, and there was some fear of God, sin and punishment. In the age of reason, these books, whatever their value, have been exiled from our lives, and the system of education has no element built into it to make us understand our emotions, and to provide guidance on how to direct and control them. The families of nearly all of us are propelled by the same emotions, and they propel us towards the goals that match with those blind, crude emotions.  The net result is that we talk great things when we are intelligent and well read, and then, when we are in power, start doing what the uneducated did: enjoying power, enjoying wealth and status.
We talk of team and ideology, but when we find that we are not going to get a share in the pie of power, we find reasons to become rebels, and to form our own parties, and do whatever else is possible.
If we form a political party, and give a call for people who would offer themselves to become MPs and MLAs, and if people have some reason to believe that we may one day, in not so distant a future,  become powerful, they wold quickly offer themselves for the party. When they do not get a party ticket for an MLA or an MP, they would defect in no time to some other party.
If we give a call, on the other hand, to people to join a political party without any claim to a party ticket, a different kind of people, much fewer in number initially, would join the  party. Without men and women who are not driven by greed for power and party posts or tickets, no political party can achieve much in terms of public welfare. They would again, like all other politicians, start enjoying power, wealth and status, for which they actually joined politics. And they wold start fighting with each other for party posts and posts in the government, throwing to winds all their former wisdom and erudition.
What is the solution?
The solution lies in changing the nature of politics and political activity, and therefore of the political party.
A political party has to start engaging in constructive activities, rather than politicking all the time. If the workers are given a constructive program which the top leaders themselves engage in most (and do not only talk about), a new political ethos formation will start. When service will begin in right earnest, the emotion culturing will also start, gradually turning politics into service. Today most parties and most men in active politics are visible to the people only when elections are around. This is just because politics has been accepted essentially as an instrument to acquire and retain power. Since all political parties are the same in this regard, what option the people have in not choosing any one of them? If politics were an instrument equally of service, politicians and political parties would be visible to people not through the TV shows but in their close vicinity.
And when this culture would be embedded in politics, leaders will not land from the skies suddenly. They would grow usually from the grass roots. Even highly educated people trained in MIT and Harvard would start working for the people, right in their midst, without elections being around.
But this change in the political ethos can only be brought about by great leaders who have all the wisdom and erudition to understand international affairs, and yet who have the humility to live and work with the masses, understand their aspirations and problems, and then lead them to economic and social salvation.


  1. In democracy, election costs are galloping. In poor country, buying the votes for price as low as Rs. 100 or day's meal has become popular. Forging participation of poor and weaker people through voting right for all appears defeated. We right minded people ought to find balance between empowerment thorugh voting rights and power to decide right in governance.

    If powers of government are becoming attracting for auctioning for bribe and ilicit gain for power hungry, reducing powers of government may become necessary.

    Sanjay Jadhav

  2. Changing 'incentives' available to individual politicians, and 'rules of the game' in terms of how elections in India are contested and won - could lead to far reaching changes.

    1. The expense limit of Rs 25 l for a parlimentary election seat should be removed. We should have state funding of electoral expenses.

    2. Salaries of politicians and ministers should be increased substantially and should not be very different from say the top 500 paying jobs in the country.

  3. Sate funding is one important issue. The more important issue is to articulate the nature and modalities or state funding. We have to work out and concertize the concepts. I will shortly circulate a draft for comments on a Google group.