Nurturing Young Minds

Nurturing Young Minds

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Politics, Intellection and Emotions

Emotion is a word found in the commonest of English dictionaries. Intellection, on the other hand, is a word that would seldom be found in dictionaries, except in the ones that are the most advanced. Coincidentally, emotion is found in most of our political leaders, but intellection, in few. Intellection is defined as “the act or process of using the intellect; thinking or reasoning.”
The reasons for this are as under.
The first reason is that there are no educational standards set by our law as the minimum eligibility criteria for entering politics, becoming an office bearer of a political party, and entering a legislative assembly or the parliament. There is also no formal educational degree of any sort required for becoming a Minister or even the Prime Minister. Therefore, most people who enter politics have all the emotions, negative as well as positive, which nature gifts freely to everybody on account of being a  human being. However, since they could not find opportunities for higher education, or could not study at the Jawahar Lal Nehru University,  they cannot be faulted for their limitations as regards intellection. The law did not prevent them from contesting elections, and from becoming a Minister. Since they could successfully climb unhindered to the highest ministerial posts in the government, and to very high positions in their political parties, just on the basis of  exhibiting, understanding and manipulating emotions (apart from using money, these days), they could never  appreciate the need for intellection in politics. Also, as legislators, they could not understand the need for a legislation that would prescribe different suitable educational standards for becoming a legislator, a parliamentarian, or a Minister. In fact, they must have though that  if any educational standards were prescribed, it might possibly jeopardize their own positions in politics.
This is the reason for politicians not being intellectuals.
But what is the reason for intellectuals not being being in politics; and, when in politics, not being successful in politics?
This is the question which I consider much more important today, the answer to which needs to be found and understood by those who are intellectuals. With the universities churning out ever larger numbers of post-graduates, scientists, engineers, doctors and MBAs, it is truly a pity that politics is not getting even a fraction of the due share of these highly educated intellectuals in the country, some of whom have returned after receiving education at some of the best educational institutions in the world, and are immensely capable.
There are many reasons why this has been happening, but I would not like to go into all those different reasons at the moment. I would like instead to focus in the current context on the reason that is the most important.
Though politics is about attaining and retaining power, the power is attained through the support of the people. These people are not one or two, like you have in the family. There are lacs of them in a constituency from where you would be elected as a member of a provincial legislative assembly, and a million or more, from where you may be elected to the national parliament. The number may easily be 30 millions or more if you aspire to form a government in a state of India, and more than a billion when you aim at forming a government at the national level, in New Delhi. Leaders, or people’s representatives in other democracies do not have to deal ordinarily with such mind-boggling numbers, yet the principle applies in essence to them too: they have to deal with large numbers of peoples who they would be representing.
Whatever your learning and capability, you have to find a place in their heart in a democracy. It is known that voters and votes are also ‘bought’ these days, yet you would find that, more often than not, those ‘buyers’ were preferred who, or whose parties, had secured a place in the voters’ heart for whatever reason. And when there is a surge of emotions in the people’s heart, no body can buy them and their votes, as we all saw in 1977 and on a number of other occasions.
A place in the people’s heart is not secured by argument or intellection. It is secured through actions and character that exhibit your emotions towards them: whether you love them, whether you understand their agoniesand ecstasies, and empathize with them, whether you hold out any hope for them. Love, agony, ecstasy, empathy, hope are all emotions. The people would not leave you ever if you also had a great policy or program of welfare for them. But that would be seen later. After all people talk a lot about policies and programs, but all policies are forgotten after the elections are over.
The matter can be understood this way too: there are two persons who want to woo and marry a lady; one a true intellectual, and another an ordinary mortal. The true intellectual, tells her a lot about what true love is , the quotes from various writers, and the different aspects of the sociology and psychology of love. He also tells her about his policies and programs that he has for her when they got married. Not to leave anything to God and destiny, he hands her over a CD containing a presentation on his post-marriage programs and policies, and also gifts her a hard copy of the presentation with bullet points.
The ordinary mortal does not know much about psychology and sociology, but he takes her hands in his, and kisses it gently. His eyes exude love, and his demeanor, admiration.
Ideally the girl should have obtained the full bio-data of the two aspirants, got them verified.  She ought to have looked at the various aspects of both individuals that would keep her both loved and comfortable after marriage. At least she should have  once seen the presentation CD, before taking a final decision.
In real life, unfortunately, such a scientific approach is not followed that an intellectual feels must be, or would be.
The girl somehow takes a decision to marry the ordinary mortal, who knew basic emotions and their expressions relevant to the girl, instead of the true intellectual who, in her  perception, was having a lot of intellectual stuff in his mind, most of which might have seemed ‘garbage’ to her due to her stupidity and ignorance. But the intellectual failed to secure a place in the girl’s heart because of surfeit of intellection and lack of rudimentary emotions. In any case, the girl had heard from her mother that all boys made great promises before marriage, and forgot all, once the marriage ceremony was over. Unfortunately, the girl did not know that this learned boy was not of that kind, and that he really had very good  post-marriage plans for her, which he truly intended to implement.
Surely, there are ordinary mortals who show fake emotions to the people and succeed in wooing them; but it would finally be known that they were faking emotions, and would therefore be finally abandoned.
It is a tragedy that owing to the faults in the system of education, those who become intellectuals, tend not only to lose emotions, but also their understanding of emotions.
I was one day narrating to a learned JNU-intellectual friend how Gandhiji started walking barefoot from village to village to stop the Noakhali Hindu-Muslim riots before Independence, and how his feet finally started bleeding, pricked by thorns and prickly pebbles. Not that he always walked barefoot, but on this occasion he chose to.
I still recall vividly the leftist  intellectual smiling with disdain, and asking:
“How could walking or bleeding feet stop the riots?”.
I had promptly changed the topic then, because I had some experience of the levels of emotional intelligence of the true intellectuals.  I could not tell him that the pricks of pebbles in their beloved leader’s feet pierced people’s hearts too, whether it was a Hindu heart or Muslim, and the blood from his frail feet made their hearts bleed as well. It made the people pause for a moment to put their hands on their own hearts in order to feel and remove the thorns that had pierced the Mahatma’s sole, and in that moment daggers had fallen from many hands.
Gandhi’s emotional intelligence was superb, even though he nowhere looks inferior to any other intellectual of his age in erudition, learning or knowledge. In fact he seems to surpass all of them. The collection of his writings runs into 99 volumes that have already been published. And these are a fraction of his writings. I disagree with many views of the Mahatma, which is natural in changed times and circumstances,  but I firmly believe that there is nobody who is in politics, or who wants to be in politics, who could not learn from the Mahatma one lesson: temper your intellection with right emotions and emotional intelligence,which can only develop when you live and identify with those that you wish to represent,  like water identifies with mud. And if the water and mud come together, it signifies that the time is approaching when the adept hands of a sculptor would fashion a Durga out of this mix that  would destroy the demons.

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