Blaming the Politicians

There is a lot of justifiable anger and frustration at the brazen attacks and the terrible loss of life in Mumbai. The Indian state is weak and ineffective and is not able to protect its citizens. The media and the public are pouring venom on the politicians of all hues. They are technically right because the ministers in the government are supposed to be the policy-makers and supposed to take the decisions. But they have failed to do so and on the face of it they are culpable.

But these politicians are elected by us and before we chose them we knew their capabilities and character and we chose them. They were neither expected to change overnight and nor did we think they would. So what is the point of spewing anger on them?

The politicians the society chooses are actually a reflection of the society itself. A semi-literate and caste and community ridden society will choose politicians which reflect its character and our politicians by and large are what we are .

Only a literate and economically prosperous society will tend to choose politicians that the media and the average middle-class urban Indian expects.Till we transform our society, we will live with our corrupt, venal and incompetent politicians.

This is easier said than done. Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati were arguably our brightest economists and thinkers in seventies and eighties. Amartya Sen always spoke about the importance of heath and education and Jagdish Bhagwati preached free trade. We did not listen to them. We kept following a social and economic policy framework which was based on poor thinking and vested interests.

The Indian society has to get out of its habit of taking the easy way out and feeling comfortable with mediocrity. A mix of focus on primary health services, education and free trade would have made India a different country, a better society now and given us a different kind of politician today.
This is just one example of how our inherent failings and weaknesses as a people and society are leading us to a life we do not want to accept. This is the time to reflect and change.


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