If one did a poll among the general populace about what the found the most fascinating, the result in no particular order would be movies, cricket and politicians. We’ll leave religion out of the equation because religion should be personal; in our country it isn’t but it should be.
Fascination for Cricketers and Actors
People’s obsession with movies I can understand; they are entertaining with spellbinding stories that make us laugh and cry; they are acted out by beautiful, glamorous people who seem to be able to afford sophistication even amidst grinding poverty.
Cricket also I understand; it is the one game in which our country has some standing. Cricket has the ability to unite us, to make us cheer out loud and make us feel proud.
Fascination for Indian politicians?
I do not understand why we find our politicians fascinating; most of them are unattractive, ineffective, inarticulate, doddering old people past their prime, who strayed into politics because they were practically unemployable elsewhere.
Indian politicians are also rather insensitive; making stupid, sometimes inexcusable remarks about the country’s problems. They are frequently out of touch with modern realty, stuck as they are, in some arcane mindset that the rest of India has long outgrown.
And as for the thick hide that our politicians are magically born with; well that is a marvel of genetics common to most of them! I am not talking about a thick skin when someone from another party or the media makes a comment about their own party/community/caste/state. In such cases our politicians fall over themselves to take offence, become sentimentally, politically, religiously – hurt, offended and wounded! Their thick skin is never more in evidence as when they have to protect their ‘gaddi’ or political office. No matter what charge of corruption is leveled, they will cling to their post. No matter what questions of probity are cast upon them, they will never offer to resign. No matter how many are baying for their blood from the media and the aam janta; they will suddenly and miraculously develop selective hearing; even deafness.
So why, why, why does the common Indian man and woman have such strong opinions about our politicians? Mostly it is hatred and contempt, but in some cases it is a worshipful adoration that comprehends no fault. Surely, we should be indifferent?
Why our politicians are so fascinating- The Harsh Truth
Quite simply we are in awe of our politicians. One reason is the power they wield. The letters MP or MLA after a name open countless doors; smooth processes and getting preferential treatment like nothing else. By acquiring political office, an individual is suddenly in possession of the kind of power and influence that no one else in India can hope to wield.
We want to be them. Each time your or my scooter or car gets waved to the side of the road by the motorcade of some puffed-up self important, tin-pot politician – mostly going nowhere in a hurry, we wish it were us inside that car. When we see that car with the lal batti on top, along with officious security chaps, fawning yes-men, et el, cutting a swathe through clogged traffic, ignoring traffic lights and receiving salaams from the traffic cop to boot, we want it too!
The politician is a convenient scapegoat. We Indians love the game called Lets-Blame-The-Politician. If something is wrong, we blame the government. It is a feeling of self-righteousness that comes over us when we heap scorn and censure on politicians. Even when we citizens should shoulder some of the blame and much of the responsibility, we prefer to blame politicians – it’s simply easier. And it isn’t just the electoral responsibility of choosing a good candidate rather than a candidate from our caste/community/linguistic region that we abdicate. It is also our civil responsibility that we abandon – by giving or taking bribes when it suits us; by breaking rules of the road and circumventing laws if we think we can get away with it.
Each time we break a red signal, we make our roads less safe; the politician is in no way responsible. Each time we treat public property negligently, litter the streets, carve our name on a monument of historic importance, offer a bribe-we ignore our civic responsibility. No politician dictates our direct actions.And blaming the system doesn’t work either – we are the system, we have to ultimately take responsibility for it. The solution to a bad system is not to circumvent it; but to get involved and to change it.
So really, we find our politicians fascinating because they are a reflection of ourselves. To repeat a cliché: we get the government we deserve. We can rail all we want against the powers that exist– secretly we just find them utterly riveting!
By – Reena Daruwalla
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Indian Politicians – It’s high time that we stopped them from taking the the country for a ride
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