This is an offbeat topic, from my usual blogging category, but I found this article by Writer and IIT Delhi professor Rukmini Bhaya Nair quite interesting and I want to take a perspective on this.

The Indian Political environment has changed dramatically, in the last 5 decades. The free and open (yeah I know the “openness” can be debated) access to information that we have today, thanks to the global growth of internet in the last 2 decades, the Politicians and the Politics in India has been exposed to tight scrutiny by media, by citizens and fellow politicians, have come under a lot of focus and constant attention. And as professor Rukmini says, maybe it is that politics today is all screen-spectacle.

This wasn’t the case 5 decades ago, and the politicians and national leaders during our Independence movement weren’t exposed to so much of attention and constant criticism and audit. But I think there were a lot of other types of sources which contributed to similar attention, focus and criticism. For ex., during the period 1920-47, there were a lot of independent journals, news papers, books, articles, poems, essays, speeches, street acts and stand-up shows, providing enough sources of such attention to national leaders in those days.

But as professor Rukmini states in her post, the leaders during that time had a great deal of mutual respect and trust between them, and so there was always a sense of dignity and respect when they conversed and referred to each other. This sense of dignity and mutual respect is something that we don’t see much, in today’s political space, and that’s unfortunate.

This must change, and I am hopeful that it will. I completely agree with her following lines:

My view is that India is a dynamic country with a very young population which deserves truthful as well as entertaining accounts of the challenges facing us. We may have come a long way from the times of the freedom movement, but India still needs freedom from dire poverty, illiteracy, gender abuse, caste factionalism, regional prejudice. In these times of social ‘churn’, I therefore think our politicians still have a crucial lesson to learn from our past: they must respect each other – and us, the aam janta – just a wee bit more.
At the moment, our politicians are outdoing themselves trying to disgrace their peers. What’s needed from them is the exact opposite – grace and generosity. If a more coherent vision of the future of India fifty years down the line emerges from this exercise, that would be great. But if not, our political leaders should at least do us the honour of telling us the truth.

Do checkout professor Rukmini’s post on NTDV’s Opinion section, here:

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