Politics and Politicians : Cleansing the dross and dirt

Baldev Singh Chib
Democracy is not possible without politicians and politics. India has a democratic set-up in which people elect their representatives to State Assemblies or Parliament. There is no alternative to it. But as is in any other profession, so also in politics; there may be persons who are honest, self-sacrificing, patriotic, genuine and have zeal to work for the poor, the downtrodden, the exploited and the neglected. Politicians who have political foresight and wisdom and who are men of high character, strong will and inspiring conduct, lead the nation to great heights. There may also be those who enter politics for power, position, prestige and privileges or for amassing wealth through corruption. The problem is not merely of economic offences. There are many other misdeeds that go against the interest of the nation and the whole society. Many committees constituted by the government have reported about the links of some politicians with the mafia, the underworld dons, criminals and musclemen. It is because of this kind of politicians that make politics dirty and politicians, as a class, get defamed. If the politicians are petty men or women of shady character, corrupt and criminal bent of mind, then they spoil the present, mar its future and lead it to chaos. The credit for raising nations high and also the blame for burying down nations is always attributed to its political leaders. Politics without principles and Economics without ethics are the bane of society. According to the Association for Democratic Reforms, 43% of the members elected for the Lok Sabha in 2019 are facing charges of serious crimes including murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, rape and other crimes.
India has talented people, there is no dearth of natural resources and its cultural and spiritual heritage is immense and unparalleled, yet this great country has not got up and stood on its legs. Japan had to rebuild its shattered economy after the Second World War and has become one among a dozen affluent nations whereas India remains to be one of the poorest and dirtiest countries. The reason for all this is that most of our politicians are corrupt, communal and of doubtful character. There is gross mis-management of natural resources. The politicians should practise value-based politics so that the place of due honor is restored to them and they can best serve the nation and the humankind. The politics now is not based on principles and values. Below are some of the principles which the politicians ought to follow:
Principle of honesty, Integrity and incorruptible character: The first among ethical values which a politician must have, is honesty and impeachable integrity. The corrupt uses his power and position to amass wealth for himself. It would be relevant to quote here President Robert Maynard Hutchin’s address to the students at University of Chicago in the year 1935. He said, “I am not worried about your economic future. I am worried about your morals. My experience and observations lead me to warn you that the greatest danger is corruption. Your friends, your wives or husbands, your business or professional associates will corrupt you. The worst thing about life is that it is demoralizing…. If you come what may you hold them fast, you will do honor to yourselves and to the University, and you will serve your country”. (Chicago Press, 1935). These words of Hutchins apply to all, including the politicians on whom the pressure of friends, relatives, party men and their own corrupt and greedy nature is great.
Principle of transparency and accountability: One must not be only honest but his acts must confirm this. This is possible if his actions and his life are transparent. He should not do anything which is wrapped in mystery or is covered by unnecessary secrecy. Though certain decisions of the government do require secrecy, this must be an exception and not the rule to cover their covert acts of corruption. Let their life be an open book.
The Principle of Rule of law: Politicians should practise rule of law. They are also subject to law and should follow the dictum: ‘Be you ever so high but the law is always above you. If the law – makers become law-breakers, then they are inviting anarchy and there will be no rule of law. It has been rightly said ‘that Government is best which governs the least’. One of the fundamental principles of governance is to enact and enforce rule of law and the politicians should set an example unto others. We cannot have ‘Swa-Rajya’ or ‘Ram-Rajya’ unless people have a rule of the self. When Lord Rama was the king, like were the subjects. As film stars set trends for new fashions in dress, politicians, because of their power and position, influence the minds of the masses the right or the wrong way. So, if politicians are persons of upright conduct, they can do immense good to the people and can mobilize public opinion in the right direction. Therefore, the politicians should set an example unto others who will also follow them sooner or later.
Principle of general welfare: The principle of general welfare implies that politicians treat all as equals irrespective of caste, creed, gender, religion, race and financial status. They should not be swayed by group-selfishness. Group-selfishness is very dangerous. If a politician owes loyalty to one section or group or caste or religion and acts under that influence, he cannot do social welfare in general. His conduct will be tainted with hatred and suspicion, and the public will lose confidence in his leadership. It would be a very wrong thing if a politician makes attempts to further the interests of one group at the expense of others. His duty is to work for the betterment of all and to have a broad mind. So, the political ethics demand that a politician must always be above narrow-mindedness, petty politics and narrow considerations. It is, therefore, time for the politicians, as for anyone else, to have change in outlook, attitudes, life-style and work-culture. This is possible by practising India’s powerful system of Values and spirituality. Spirituality is different from Religion. It is the treasure of Values and Virtues. It is the only means of cleansing Politics from the dross and dirt that has now accumulated in it.
Let me end by saying that the role of politicians is crucial to the job of conducting the affairs of the Nation and for ministering the policy. The Politicians should have noble motives and must adopt righteous means, and should keep in mind that their policies, strategies, tactics, logistics and moves and maneuvers must result in the happiness of all. After all, how much does a person require to fill his belly? How many rooms does he require to sleep in during the night? Can one carry suitcases, full of currency notes, with him on his final journey? Let us all remember that public office is not for accumulating private wealth or for favouring certain people. We have to face our own ‘Karmic account’ today or tomorrow. Let us, therefore, lead a life of values, principles and purity.