We need to get our India back

Politicians big and small have commented variously on democracy. But the most perceptive observation came from an Anglican priest-turned-Cambridge professor named W R Inge.

Published: 31st March 2019 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st March 2019 07:43 AM   |  A+A-


Parliament building

Politicians big and small have commented variously on democracy. But the most perceptive observation came from an Anglican priest-turned-Cambridge professor named W R Inge. “Democracy”, he said, “is only an experiment in government, and it has the obvious disadvantage of merely counting the votes instead of weighing them”.

What a world of difference there is between counting and weighing. India’s plight is evidence enough. As many as 1,580 people involved in criminal cases sit in our current Parliament and state legislatures because all that matters is mere counting of votes. Criminals lodged in prison have fought and won elections in UP-Bihar; a police officer who had prepared a list of cases, including murder, against a mafia leader-turned-minister was shot dead; eleven MPs were caught in 2005 taking bribe for asking questions in Parliament—all because riff-raff gets to the top when counting alone matters.

Suppose someone invents a system of weighing votes instead of just counting them. Even to suppose is not easy considering the political conditions in our country today. Regionalism, casteism and cronyism, the criteria that govern our lives, won’t allow the weighing of merit. This was picturesquely described by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh when he said not long ago: “I will not make it in politics because I am Brahmin, I am South Indian, I am good-looking, and I am brilliant.”

To a limited extent the last handicap helped him get over the other handicaps. But hurdles to making it in India are numerous. Nevertheless, we can still dream. Suppose a system emerges in our dream where the count of values matters more than the count of votes, where merit decides things, where those who have brought real progress to the country through their work get precedence over those who trade in politics—then democracy may cease to be only an experiment and become a model.

The advantage of being in the dream mode is that we can dream big. Dream of a Parliament that will be filled with a class of Indians who have brought prestige to India through skill and dedication—Anand Mahindra, Deepak Parekh, Azim Premji, Sudha/Narayana Murthy, Subroto Bagchi. And also Raghuram Rajan, Gita Gopinath, Sunder Pichai, Satya Nadella, Kaushik Basu. And also Jean Dreze, Pankaj Mishra, Manu S Pillai, Patrick French, Gautam Bhatia. And also Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande, K R Meera, Girish Karnad, T M Krishna. And also Indra Nooyi, Padmasree Warrior, Mira Nair, Arundhati Nag, Revathi.

Just imagining them as MPs is thrilling. How blessed our country is with talent. And how bereft of talent our Parliament is! In the current list, how many MPs actually deserve to be MPs? Arun Jaitley does. Parliament would be poorer without his intellectual brilliance. It will be poorer without the intelligence of Nitin Gadkari. It will be poorer without the cerebral brightness of Shashi Tharoor. It will be poorer without Manmohan Singh, however miserly he is with words. It will be poorer without Kapil Sibal, an MA in history, an LLB and an alumnus of Harvard Law School.

Alas, the number of people in Parliament who make us proud is tiny compared to the number of those who make us ashamed. Only in an India driven by the politics of communal polarisation would strange individuals like Sakshi Maharaj and Niranjan Jyoti and Giriraj Singh become members of Parliament. What does a “movement” like Mayawati actually signify? All we got from her reign in UP was a landscape of elephants. A person who identifies the destiny of a great country like India with her private ego now wants to be the prime minister. What does the sum of Smriti Irani add up in the totality of India? What can Kummanam Rajasekharan contribute to the substance and image of India? He is the candidate the BJP has put up to defeat Shashi Tharoor. If he wins, can he do for India what Tharoor does beyond party politics? It will be a case of BJP’s win amounting to India’s loss. There are national interests that must supercede party interests.

But we live in an age where national interests are discarded—often arrogantly—to promote narrow political interests. In any other age it would have been unthinkable for Air India to issue boarding passes with the Prime Minister’s photo on them. Domestic airlines were instructed in February to issue leaflets to passengers describing the achievements of the BJP government. This is politics gone bizarre. This is taking the citizen for a fool. This is India hijacked. Can’t we get our India back?


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  • Wg Cdr P K Narendran (Retd)

    I accidently glanced thru' this piece of writing. Yes
    2 years ago reply
  • KeepItHonest

    The faulty premise and notion established for governance by the Congress+Communist regime over the 60+ years post-independence is being correctly restored to its original intent and purpose. The pendulum is bound to swing to some extent as idiosyncratic events hurt minority sentiment as decades of flagrant injustice is being rectified. Any doubts on the original configuration plan for an independent India envisioned by our rightful freedom fighters can be confirmed by looking at the Constitution document and particularly the pictures on it. I'm sure the author would find them highly objectionable and demand their removal.
    2 years ago reply
  • Atar Mittal

    I see that my comments were not published. May I like to know what was that your moderator found unacceptable?
    2 years ago reply
  • Giri

    Whilst this article makes many valid points
    2 years ago reply
  • Sudhir

    Basically George Babu wants parliament to me filled with english spouting commie libtards. Tha nation has paid a heavy price for this elitist mindset.
    2 years ago reply
  • Siddhartha Suripunj

    Sir you did not say about those who are hogging limelight these days :What good it would do in form of Amit Shah
    2 years ago reply
  • tmranganathan

    mr.TJSG when character is lost everything is lost for ever. sashi cheated sunandhpushkar and later led her to death. kummanam is far too good. india needs honest and not imposters and fraudsters.
    2 years ago reply
    • Ram

      Well put. NIE did not publish my comments. TJS has lost all the respect I had. He brings in names like Tharoor
      2 years ago reply
      • badri narayanan poondi

        All elite intellectuals are after aristocrats and dynasty families dominating politics. Hindus and nationalism are anathema to them. Quoting from western scholars and scoffing at everything of native heritage is the fashion. I am not sure if my comment will also be acceptable to the M team. I am 75 and had seen humble devoted leaders taking pride in the native wisdom
        2 years ago reply
  • Daya Patel

    All this I have never seen u writing when Congress was in Power India we are getting back with Pm Modi n he will get us all d glory n has been working on that ..... I consider u better than d other lot of journalists who cry foul of danger of Democracy n what not ... Let’s build our Country collectively where d Sanathan Dharma prevails where collectively the state Progresses in all aspects of Life.
    2 years ago reply
  • rajnishd

    Biased article. What has Shashi Tharoor and Kapil Sibbal has done for the masses? By George's logic
    2 years ago reply
    • MCMathew

      Let me encourage you Mr George to be a mirror to the intent and content of what is going on in our political stage. We have lost something that created India; before we loose to be less than a community of integrated beings
      2 years ago reply
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