Corruption and debate

Symbolism and posturing should have a limited role in democracy

Viewpoint

ANIL ANAND

Corruption is the flavour of the day and rightly too as it is eating into the vitals of the society. A brand new political party has been found on the promise to root out corruption. Parliament has been paralysed by a resurgent BJP which has its own share, and a substantial one, in the arena of corruption. And last but not the least the sports administrators, pardon me, the sports politicos are also currently indulging in the worst form of the game of one-up-manship sometimes in the name of corruption and on other occasions settle personal scores even at the cost of national interests.
What do we construe from these developments? Being a small but an important part of the world’s most vibrant democracy, one’s natural reaction is: The democracy is at its full flow or is it rediscovering itself in the 21st century and according to the changing needs of the society.
Yes the churning should take place and is on though not in the much desired manner. One is appalled to think that all the above mentioned developments, spare for a moment the Aam Aadmi Party experiment which is still to be tried and tested, have more negative connotations.
Take for example the ruckus being created in Parliament in the name of checking corrupt practices and opposing certain issues which some feel are heavily loaded against the national interest and the obduracy of the Treasury Benches. Truly speaking no one is convinced with the spirit behind this fight back, not that the issues involved are irrelevant, as the motives are too overloaded with limited electoral expediencies than focusing on the national well-being.
This is no one’s argument to sgguest that symbolism and public posturing have no place in a democracy. After all, these are important ingredients in electoral politics but not the end in itself.  In a true sense be it the legislatures, Centre or the state governments, the public posturing should always be secondary to performance that is directly related to a good delivery system.
Getting back to the churning process going-on in the name of rediscovery, there are certain disturbing trends which have crept into the system. The electoral politics is getting murkier as it is no more focused on the developmental agenda. Exposing corruption in the rival camp will always be central to any election campaign but that should not in itself become a tool as to divert total attention from the performance of the ruling systems on the developmental issues or presenting a strong alternative as means of vote catching.
The democracy is not only about criticism and exposing. It is also about convergence. Yes, there will always be two or even more points of views, conforming to different ideologies which the political system or the legislatures represent at any given time. But the challenge should lie in extracting the best out of this divergence with the national and people’s interest as the yardstick for convergence. In the Indian context the strength of the system lies in its diversity.
There is nothing utopian about this idea. Such an ideal situation had been achieved in the past in the Indian democratic system. There are glowing instances of the ruling class and the opposition having sailed together on issues of great national importance after bouts of scathing criticism, particularly from the opposition side. Presently, the fault-line passes through both the rival camps, be it in the Parliamentary democracy or the IOA polls.
I reiterate that corruption as an issue should always remain to be the top priority for the contesting parties. But that should not be the sole criteria for contesting elections. Corruption is easily saleable to the public mind while it is perhaps difficult to fight an election on developmental issues or exposing lack of development. This has resulted in the political parties and other groups laying greater focus on levelling corruption charges no matter how false and frivolous these are.
First and foremost in a matured democracy such as India, where hunger, poverty and growing aspiration of an entire generation of youth need prime focus, the frivolous trappings attached to the electoral politics should not overshadow the working of institutions such as legislatures and the government. Again, the ongoing winter session of Parliament and the infamous IOA elections are the cases in study in this context. After all the IOA polls, figuring political leaders of all hues and colours, are an index of how the democratic norms of elections can be made to look murkier even at the cost of national interest and prestige.
Reverting back to the role of public posturing and symbolism in a democracy there is an overdrive on these fronts which at times clouds the basic principles of democracy. These tendencies should be confined to election times though proliferation of media, both print and electronic, has given an added advantage to the contesting parties to reach to the people at regular intervals with their developmental agenda. It should be incumbent upon the media also to focus on the developmental aspects or issues related to lack of development rather than resorting to an over-indulgence in sting operations which on many occasions have been found to be stage managed.
Paralysing the system, be it the Parliament or the IOA headquarters, is no replacement to actually delivering on the ground. The calculation should not be based on in-terms of votes gained or lost, power gained or lost but also in-terms of the affect the entire process or the mode of campaign will have on the nation and its institutions.
It is amazing that the leading lights of the Indian Olympic Association, mostly politicians, are expressing great faith in International Olympics Committee rather than their own country’s commitment to the Olympics charter. After all, the guidelines framed by the Union Government under the then sports minister Mr Ajay Maken were an off-shoot of the IOC charter.
There lies the malady. The marriage of convenience might deliver immediate dividends but it could cause immense damage in the long run. The individuals might benefit but the system will suffer. This tendency needs to be checked at all costs. The established players in the field of politics, sports and elsewhere are not setting any example to be followed by the younger generations. To the contrary they should be warned and alarmed by the disillusionment of the youngsters with the prevailing system and act fast to rid the system of these maladies and attract to the democratic fold.

Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 3 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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