N.S. Venkataraman, Trustee, Nandini Voice for the Deprived, Chennai, always poses some interesting questions. The one I received by email today, Independence Day, was: Will Indian politicians destroy Indian democracy? Well, I don’t know what to say, not that I don’t have an answer but because there is just too much to say and sometimes you just give up and realise it is not worth wasting your time at all.
Nevertheless, let’s see what Mr Venkataraman (he had stood as a candidate from the South Chennai Parliamentary constituency less than two years ago) has to say. With the election season now commencing in several states such as West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, he advises politicians to refrain from launching vituperative personal attacks against opponents. The other side is capable of similar standards and this would bring the political culture in the country to a new low, is his take.
“The leading politicians, particularly those belonging to the large parties, should exhibit maturity and refrain from indulging in political exchanges like street urchins. The people are increasingly getting disenchanted with the personal behaviour and conduct of the politicians and now tend to think that almost all politicians are corrupt and dishonest. Most of the public attend the political meetings not due to any great regard for a particular politician but they treat such meetings as some sort of "entertainment" and realise that they have no choice but to vote for lesser of the evil, treating their vote as a gamble,” Venkataraman explains.
At least, senior members of political parties should elevate their political utterances to higher standards if their political campaign were to get an element of respectability and significance, he adds.
”Indian democracy is now at the cross roads,” Venkataraman goes on. “The technological and economic growth achieved by the country has not been matched by improvements in value systems in personal and public life of individuals and corruption and immorality appear to be becoming the order of the day. The politicians have played a big role in uprooting the ethical and moral climate in the country by their corrupt, self-centred and family interests. There are already disturbing signs that due to people losing faith in the politicians and political system, extremist groups are gaining ground and people are taking law into their own hands . The politicians lacking moral standards and credibility “are now becoming the focus of people's wrath. These conditions are not good for Indian democracy. On the 64th year of Independence, it is right time for us to realise that the country has gone backwards as far as the political standards and culture are concerned. It would be a tragedy, if the younger generation would start viewing Gandhian standards as utopian concept because of the low standards set up by our politicians today.”
One man who can play a decisive role in reversing the deteriorating trend in political and moral climate, Venkataraman believes, is the Prime Minister of India who has the power and authority. Will he? And can he? These are the questions I ask.