Monday, March 20, 2006

Paritranaya Sadhunam

Some thoughts after reading the philosophy of Lok Paritrana party although this is not really about the party...

The first quarter of this year starts with another bout of elections in some states. Nation's tryst with destiny is revisited. We all know that ever since the midnight speech on the dawn of democracy, our country has come a long way. It's interesting to observe the popular perceptions of political structure and people in its domain change over nearly six decades. I think it is fair to say that the political leaders and therefore parties in India have lost a lot of ground. The unbelievable optimism of a generation who'd won us independence gave way to the masochistic voyeurism watching the war of attrition and survival that the current political entities engaged in.

It goes without saying that we have had a few successes as a nation and also a lot of glaring failures as well. The political system of the country might be given only partial blame. If it took only a few policy changes and realignment in the railway budget by someone like Lalu Prasad to make it appear functional and even more blasphemously profitable, one wonders why was it not possible by earlier regimes. While I don't mean to belittle Lalu or lose sight of his antics in any way, I am struck by a few questions like, has there been a consistent lack of understanding, skills and initiative among the supposedly more learned railway minsters to do what he did? Or is it just a coincidence that he happens to be the railway minister now and the turn around in fortune has been a long time coming? How influential the political will of adminstrators and people have been or none at all?

Political class does not only imply leadership and hierarchy of power or the functional relevance of opposition parties. It derives itself from the common people with identifiable ideologies and attitudes towards the sustenance and growth of society.

You know that it is extremely difficult to find and promote a vision, capture imagination of people and identify the right paradigms of implementation and sustenance. Independence struggle and socialist dreams were the major defining moments of Indian politics to orient itself on the fronts of ideology. Every single party that is ever created or being created align themselves alongside one of the above.

The reason for the germination of each political party is one way or other related to one ore more the following:

  1. Disgruntlement among lower level leadership against the current one.
  2. Opportunity for division due to major policy decisions
  3. Social Justice and perceptions of representation and demographic distribution of power.

Presumably the people who created the new parties were not apolitical or reactionaries. They simply redefine their political stance for a bigger bargain. In the process you can find a more fragmented and one-dimensional but easily recognizable electoral constituencies. Political parties in general are more comfortable with this kind of aggregation than having to lumber along (like Congress Party used to earlier) with in fights and chaos. However the three reasons I stated above are recipes for degeneration, even though the reality of the issues posed in the same reasons cannot be wished away. You would see nepotism, backdoor lobbyists, immovable and self serving leadership, corruption, influencing judiciary and law and order, incitement of riots etc as part of short term strategies to stay in or return to power. The other side is that each of these parties has perceptions of their own electoral constituencies and a good knowledge about how they are being perceived by other entities in the political domain.

The people in turn have been politicized to the extent that the immoral functioning of politics in the current system is accepted. There is no society existing in a nascent state expecting deliverance. I could cite an example of the behavior patterns of grass root level politicians when after the Panchayati Raj elections defected en-masse crossing party lines to be able to become panchayat president or a treasurer.

The ability of a society to regenerate and reinvigorate depends on the capacity to understand the needs and provide an opportunity for its members to seek solutions. Every society is a complex system constituted by fragmented subsystems. Reality is an empirical manifestation of these fragmented systems to co-exist among themselves to become the complex system. One needs to understand a problem/conflict at the highest level of abstraction before the patterns of reality set in leading to more fragmented and faulty solution.

If the intent of exercising political will is the well-being of people, the understanding of the system (nation) is the key and it is based on justice. It is an existential necessity of the system to render justice in the physical world.

The rationally challenged and power hungry party leaderships in their frenzy of pitch forking alliances of convenience and head counts in the lead up to the election will not think about this simple and ancient need of Indian society. The need for justice and progress.