Monday, August 25, 2008

The curse of the (Indian) middle class

Shashi Tharoor in his recent article in the TOI makes an important point about expectations of the people of USA & India, two of the largest democracies, from their politicians. He says
" 1. An American politician is expected to attain standards that American voters do not demand of themselves and their neighbours: would-be elected officials in America are simply not permitted to display the weaknesses that ordinary Americans suffer from...
2. the Indian middle-class expects politicians to behave in ways we would not tolerate in our own families or neighbours. Politicians are not merely assumed to be sanctimonious, insincere and hypocritical, but it's also taken for granted that they must be unprincipled, sleazy and venal. We do not seek a neat and ordered political world: we accept one that is messy, chaotic, devious"

Shashi's comment is almost echoed by Subroto Mukherjee leader from the Congress Party & ex-Mayor of Kolkata , who states in an article in Anadabazar Patrika that , " politics (in India) is all about increasing the vote bank. A pragmatic party will walk that path which would increase his votes ...politicians have not come to do charity........its all about a power game where power equates with mass support ......wherever the mass is , politicians will go there"

That was a reality check.

Who ever thought that politics is about public service and every political party should at least have a stated ideology for serving the fundamental needs of the people of his land?

Shashi's article states that Indian middle class unlike their American counter-parts do not have higher expectations of their politicians. Shashi forgets that Indian middle class;though enlightened ,law abiding & tax-paying citizens of the country; has a very insignificant say in the politics of the nation. To the extent, the middle class is dispensable to the political elite. In the world of representative politics, this trend is only going to get stronger. Communities such as Dalits, Gujjars & Muslims will seize their opportunity for representation in National Institutions like the IITs, IIMs, IIScs & even MNCs through reservations. Marginalised & state-terrorised communities like the Kashmiris, Gorkhas, Nagas & Manipuris will demand rights of self-rule bordering on secession. So on & so forth.

The middle class be damned.

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