Indian Politics – the Last Resort

In India, they say politics is the last resort of a scoundrel. And it does seem to hold true there; Indian politicians are, by and large, corrupt crooks and bullies.

A quick Google research shows that it was Dr. Samuel Johnson who said, “Patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel.” I guess our colonial rulers modified to suit the Indian condition. In any case, Indians staying out of politics suited the colonial rulers just fine. What is sad is that the Indian politics still attracts mostly scoundrels even after almost seventy years of independence.

I think of this phenomenon as another one of the disservices that our colonial masters did us. In all the countries I have lived in after I left India, I have noticed that the politicians are fairly educated and intelligent people. (Well, it may not look that way in the US, but even George Bush Jr was said to be very intelligent.) The top politicians in France, for instance, tend to be from top schools, like the École Polytechnique (the French equivalent of IITs). The point is, smart people consider politics as a viable and even attractive career option.

This is in stark contrast with the Indian attitude, where if the son of a house declares that he wants to be a politician, the family will probably start mourning. Where does this negative association come from? I believe it is another remnant of our colonial past, where they convinced us that joining the Indian National Congress was the worst thing any young man could do. And only murderers and rapists would do such a vile thing. Our docile minds have propagated this conviction over the generations, I feel.

Well, I left India almost thirty years ago, and it may be that things have changed during these years. At least, I got that feeling watching the last Indian election on TV — I could feel the optimism and the general sense of euphoria. I hope things are changing. I hope intelligent people (not just intelligent crooks) have begun to view politics as a potential career path. You see, you don’t really need selfless, great souls like Gandhiji to make India great. You just need reasonably moral, reasonably decent people to enter politics, and start displacing the totally immoral.

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