Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our Royal Highness

Indian politics is a name and numbers game. Policy and governance always take a back seat. The guilty are not a particular party or the process but the populace. Elections in India are not a contest between candidates with claims to administrative excellence but a battle for coronation. Had it been about governance, we would hear about policies and programmes not about caste and vote-banks. Issues such as hunger, health and human rights are issues seldom raised but by amatures like Ms. Meera Sanyal in Bombay. Sadly, these are not the pillars on which we test political mettle.

Titles were abolished in 1971, but the pomp remains. Not in name, but in rath yatras, in cavalcades and mass rallies, each candidate strutting in his best wares proclaiming himself as the heir of the constituency. It remains in the ease with which Rahul Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Schindia and the like come to the forefront of politics. What claims do they have other than ancestry? As a people we have always been led. When the British decided that India could have her freedom, they left a void which was ably filled by "Mahraja" Gandhi and Nehru. It is still those names we follow. We have not learnt that democracy means that the people have a voice. That what we desire matters. We are led into the future not by choice but by habit.

Yet, our weakness has a silver lining. Democracy in India survives while those around us have faltered. In India, principles of participative government have come to terms with our native traditions in the Nehru-Gandhi family. Hence our chosen scions rise again and again.

PS: There were 22 contestants of "royal blood" contesting the polls in Rajasthan. No prizes for guessing the winners.