File photo. Photograph:( DNA )
While political and ideological opponents must fight it out in the electoral arena, stooping down to exacting personal vendettas cannot be condoned.
On the first day of 2019, and a few months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, here are four simple resolutions that could change our politics for the better. The level of discourse pertaining to politics has plummeted to unprecedented levels. A general perception prevails that our politics is become too bitter and is based on hate and revulsion towards political opponents. If politicians are concerned about this growing apathy and disgust for them they better follow some urgent steps.
Refrain from personal attacks
Over the last few years, Indian politics has reached its nadir. Slander, abuse and name-calling have become de rigueur and from top-ranking leaders to a party cadre, we have a stare at a bleak scenario when it comes to civility and basic courtesies. Whether it is inside Parliament, TV studios or public rallies, our politicians have crossed all red lines, so much so that political opponents appear to be mortal enemies! This needs to change as we head into an election year because without mutual respect and certain inviolable norms of public behaviour, Indian democracy will only be further weakened.
PPP- Practise Positive Politics
The mutual abuse that parties are currently heaping on each other, stems from a pool of negativity that is detrimental to democracy. While political and ideological opponents must fight it out in the electoral arena, stooping down to exacting personal vendettas cannot be condoned. Similarly, creating false narratives based on half-truths and innuendos are destroying public trust in politicians. If left unchecked it will erode away the peoples’ belief in the political system as well and could even pave way for more anarchic forces.
Focus on real issues
For a majority of Indians, issue emanating from growing inequality, lack of access to quality and affordable healthcare and education, safe spaces for children and girls, and opportunities of employment are in fact the real issues they would like to see resolved. However, issues like Mandir-Masjid may resonate with a small section of people but have come to occupy a disproportionately large share of politics today.
India’s health expenditure remains less than 3 per cent of its GDP, there is a severe dearth of quality and accessible school education for over 80 per cent Indian children. There is a severe crisis of undernutrition in a huge swathe of the country and process of migration for economic opportunities is overburdening India’s unprepared cities. In the new year, it is on such issues that political parties really need to focus on and just include them as a formality in their respective manifestos.
Don’t mislead people
With technology enabling real and digital manipulation of the voters’ minds, it is important that politicians strictly follow a personal code of conduct which shuns promoting the use of technology to come up with fake news, memes, audio recordings, and other such materials. Such unethical practices may help them reap short-term and narrow political gains but in the long term, it will be the death-knell of people’s trust in the political class. And once people’s trust disappears it won’t be long before our entire democratic political system starts crumbling. Therefore, politicians must resolve to neither overtly or covertly to either promote or sanction the creation of any material or narrative that seeks to mislead people on any issue pertaining to religion, caste, community, gender or any other matter.
Political parties and leaders from across the political spectrum need to resolve to shun this negativist politics and resolve to only work on positive ideas. To be sure, it is not meant that Indian politics should become inert and boring, but only that our politics should not be centred only on criticism, vendetta and spiteful jingoism.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)