Updated: Jul 24, 2019
A good question that came up in the discussion with a friend related to the need for a new line of thought. After all, the entire world is replete with different ideologies, some widely accepted, some less than acceptable. Nonetheless, a lot of these ideologies and principles are already learnt, studied and researched upon.
A country, very much like the rule of law cannot run or be run on the subjective assessment and understanding of a few. The objectivity required as a key to understanding various political ideologies is regrettably absent in modern day India. Political campaigns have been reduced to a mudslinging fest with most politicians’ even very senior ones having blatant disregard for each other resulting in a definite dip in the quality of debates. Even quarreling relatives would be put to shame if you watch the language used by eminent politicos.
India is one of the few countries in the world where elections are an on- going phenomena. With the General Elections having concluded recently and the State Elections around the corner, it is critical that the youth of India realise their own role in this political cycle and evaluate the performance of both their representatives and their country as a whole with a determined mind. The current ideologies have been faith- centric and for the most part the religious polarisation of debates in one way or the other has become the new norm. At a time like this, we ought to re-discover for ourselves the true essence of being an Indian.
What contemporary India needs is a new perspective and an ideology that re-asserts the true and fundamental nature of Indians from the past to the present. The Tharoorian ideology firmly rests on three pillars of Pluralism, Liberalism and Soft Power which will be dealt with in detail in the subsequent chapters. If one decides to trace the roots of these three tenets, one can find ample examples of this in Ancient, Medieval and Modern India.
A renewed mindset is possible when we can identify ourselves and our values with someone who has not just weathered the storm but has stood his ground without compromising his own values in the process. It is an open and shut case that there have been cases of political opportunists sacrificing their principles only to regret the mirage they chased and then head back home.
Decoding a new political ideology independent of India’s political environment and yet intrinsically related to its future is a feat that can be achieved only when one has their faith deeply rooted in the idea of India, the way Dr. Tharoor has. While it is argued that the Indian National Congress has slimmed its own chances of winning, this can be owing to the fact that a majority of Indians especially the educated class does not vote.
In the General Election of 2019, less than half of the total population actually voted. In other words, When you don’t vote, you indirectly elect what you don’t want.
Before we vote, we must be crystal clear about the ideology that we are voting in and the ideology we are voting out. The Indian voter cannot cast votes over a tweet or a powerful orator’s tall promises. It needs to know the larger picture, the picture that is carefully hidden by an otherwise over- enthusiastic and hyper-active media. To be able to decide we need to educate ourselves first and then those around us. Merely voting without knowing what your representative essentially stands for or the principles he follows, we reduce ourselves to the status of the uneducated voter who is eager to exercise his right but unaware of the perils of not knowing the power of his choice.
Too often the concept of Adult franchise has been reduced to a political term and while students are taught about their right to exercise their vote, they have not been sufficiently educated on the Power of that vote. Why do we need to know our candidates? The lasting effect and the permanent damage a wrong decision taken at the time of voting is something that the Indian voter learns by trial and error. This has further given birth to the idea of Anti- incumbency.
As a responsible adult it is the credibility of the candidate that needs to be scrutinized considering that almost anyone with sufficient finances and clout can make it big in the political arena, so what if one must stand for those elections from Jail! (The candidates that won from behind prison doors, have literally reduced the system to a mockery.) Manipulating voters has never been easier than it is today with the advent of new technology. The advertising that passes off as canvassing makes a rational mind think if the ones with the better publicity stunts are indeed the solution to their problems!
Now while that may be the case on the silver screen the truth is quite different, since there is no stringent black and white, one tends to get warped in the shady greys that demand your attention on WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and sometimes even in your own TV lounges. Karan Thapar lamented on the decline of quality journalism and journalists and stated that he felt a moral compunction to speak out. He spoke for the minority in his own tribe. This however is not restricted to journalism only. For the first time in Indian History, even judges decided to get their gloves off in public, taking a dig at the system itself. The signs of the times are ominous compelling us as educated reasoning individuals to reconsider if this is what we sign up for at the beginning of every five year term with a new set of representatives to field our cause.
As Robin Sharma quite aptly put it, “It’s become more popular to be popular than to be ethical, brave and good.” This makes it all the more reasonable to have a fresh perspective that enables the voter to think and make the right decision.
Ideally, a voter must ask three questions before he makes a decision:
Do the party representative’s ideals match my own?
Would this ideology lead to a Progressive India?
Would the country benefit from this political mindset should the party come to power?
While the Indian National Congress successfully ruled the country for the better portion of independent India’s history, it is disturbing that the same principles met with outright rejection on a national level resulting in their resounding defeat in 2014 and 2019. The essential question that nobody asked is, Can 34% of the country really qualify as the general public opinion or was it the likes of you and me who abstained from exercising their right that led to the rise of a very communal entity at the helm of affairs?
Given this backdrop, I’ve realised that individually one may be able to make a limited difference but should the same principles find takers from all quarters of society we could be looking at a new and progressive India, one that can graduate from super – poor to super- power.
In order to condition the mindset it is important to understand the underlying principles that prepare a firm foundation and make way for a new line of thought. The principles of the Indian National Congress are firmly vested in the Nehruvian and Gandhian tenets that are slowly being pushed into oblivion but the ideology that we propose is a bridge between the Indian voter and the Indian National Congress. What we need on an immediate and urgent basis is accountability and connect.
The masses need reminding on how we as a country survived the British and then the perils of a fast growing world as we grappled with an overwhelming population and its increasing needs.
What India needs now, is for us to speak our minds and take reasonable, rational decisions. If the voter doesn't exercise his right, why should the elected representative be expected to exercise his duty?
Given this backdrop I urge you to take steps to connect with an ideology that promotes secularism, freedom and equality in its purest form. We need to follow an ideology that makes us Relevant to contemporary India.
Make a calculated decision, my friend, but let the decision be yours!
- Katherine. A
Moderator, The Relevant Indian