Thursday, March 27, 2008

Does India Need a Young PM?

I will not try to be too academic, but just for the sake of it, the PM of India under the constitution is the head of the cabinet and the leader of the ruling party and who takes crucial decisions with respect to the governance of our country and makes policies befitting the interest of people in consultation with the union cabinet. In short, a PM’s job as a constitutional servant is to make sure that the country is governed in consonance with the principles of the directive principles as enumerated in the constitution. However, the first question that pops up is whether such duties have been assiduously performed so far?

With the obscurantist tendencies that we possess the answer may not be apparent, but we sure try to figure the reasons which can be attributed to any failure of performance. (If any). Personally speaking, I have my doubts about any one PM coming up to the common man’s expectations and constitutional mandates and the reasons could be manifold. (Not speaking statistically). For years and years altogether we have seen venal politicians lapping up the taxpayer’s money without the “Great Indian Burp”. We have seen frivolous policies being implemented without a rationale and concern for the “AAM AADMI”. The second question that remains unanswered is whether it was all because of the aging politicians and specially the PM of our country (who is normally the eldest and most experienced of the flock) and their lack of connectivity to the (so called) “Youngistan” (watch your nearest idiot box if you are unfamiliar with the term) which had a different set of priorities and expectations form their putative leaders.

To assess this proposition objectively let us go back to the times of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi who at the age of 40 was the youngest PM this country had ever seen. (Not to mention the highest mandate ever by the people of this country). The report card of the government after the need of 5 years was more red than green. In spite of his strong charismatic personality and fervor for reforms and dynamism he had to bite the dust within two years of his term as the PM. The first two years went extremely well, but there was a reason. This country was sick of voting for those who were already known to the people and had ideas and policies so stagnant enough to give an Indian Gutter a run for its money. When Smt. Indira Gandhi was assassinated the country looked upon the elusive Rajiv to come up to their expectations. And the best part was that various sects had various expectations, but because no one really knew how he will turn out be as a politician and PM, there was a massive mandate in his favor and congress party enjoyed a stupendous majority for 5 years. But unfortunately at the end of the term nothing much could come out of the kitty of the youthful PM everyone was talking so highly about. The answer is simple. One man, be it a seasoned and aging “Neta” type figure or a brawny fledgling and youthful lad, cannot come up to the expectations of 800 million people at the same time. The reasons were also very straightforward, most obvious being his inexperience in dealing with extraneous pressures.

But, enough of past, let us now try to envisage the similar proposition in contemporary context. With the multitude of voices and diversity of interests who are clamoring for attention, any naïve policy maker is not expected to play miracles by placating everyone at the same time. However, I must clarify that I am not suggesting that dynamism and knowledge cannot supplant the present chaos, perhaps I am suggesting that for these virtues to be present in a leader we need not insist on a younger lad over an experienced man. It is quite simplistic to suggest that a young India with a young PM would be true combination of potential and dynamism, but we are looking at a bloated picture. This is not a country with a common language and dialect. This is a country where diversity is palpable at every few kilometers.

To sum up, the complicated question we are referring to in a “yes” or “no” would probably be a misnomer. Only age as a factor to determine the efficiency of a PM, without regard to other crucial factors like his qualification, policies, family background etc. is perhaps whimsically absurd. Let us look at this a little more pragmatically and start looking at the bigger picture where this democracy can not just elect but select its own leaders who can at least understand and know the importance of the “Preamble to the Constitution of India” and aim towards realizing it. And I am saying LEADERS, perhaps not just PM.

Lesson learnt I Guess!!

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