The problem with Indian Politics

A long time ago (almost a decade ago, in fact), I used to write a blog on Politics. I was in New York at the time, and I used to blog ONLY about American Politics. I made a conscious decision to religiously avoid Indian Politics, though at the time I was not sure where my aversion came from. I think I understand it now.

In the US, there are two major political parties – Republicans and Democrats. There are a bunch of others like the Green Party and the Libertarian Party, but for the purposes of our discussion, they are irrelevant. Both the major parties have established platforms from which they collectively, or their members individually, do not deviate much. In highly simplistic terms, Republicans believe in lower taxes for all, smaller government and a strong defense. Democrats believe in higher taxes for wealthy people, a larger government role in public and private life of individuals, and a focus on the welfare state. The options in front of the voter are distinct. Politicians usually have to follow their parties ideology to get elected, and then follow it to survive future elections. An example is Republicans signing Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, where they pledge to not increase tax rates. 90-95% of Republicans sign it, and they usually are pretty good about keeping that particular promise. This is what politics guided by ideology looks like.

In India, on the other hand, I fail to find any political party that will do what it publicly proclaims to be right in the face of what is politically convenient. We have people changing parties at the drop of the hat (doing so is very uncommon and thus front page news in US), changing policies to whatever the public opinion polls show is popular, and in general having no deep seated guiding philosophy. Please note that the distaste I have for parties extends to regional parties as well along with national parties. In fact, regional parties are even worse in their disregard for any concrete policy proposals they champion before the elections. No policy is sacrosanct, no election promise so essential that it cannot be sacrificed at the altar of remaining in power. This utter disregard to fealty to any philosophy just rubs me the wrong way.

In the US, the purpose of power is not only to remain in power but also to move the country in the direction you want. In India, it seems the purpose of power is to remain in power… and to do whatever is necessary to maintain that status quo.

This leads to comical situations like Aam Aadmi Party campaigning against Congress corruption, then joining hands with them to form the Government in Delhi. I dont put much stock in the “They did it for the greater good” argument. Either you believe that Congress is corrupt, in which case you should not align with them in any shape or form on general principles, or you dont believe that Congress is corrupt, in which case what is the basis of your parties existence in the first place? Similarly, Didi liked BJP first, then threw them away for Congress, then broke up with them too. I dont see what had changed so drastically in those parties, except that it was politically inconvenient to carry on with them. There are many, MANY such examples in India. (I’m not even gonna go into the quagmire that is Sharad Pawar’s track record.)

If I dont trust them, its only because they dont trust themselves enough to know if they will be able to fulfill the promises they make before elections. When looking at Indian politicians, why waste time wondering what color you see when what you are looking at are chameleons?

So yeah, if I do write about Indian politics, please expect a heavy dose of cynicism and general dislike.

4 thoughts on “The problem with Indian Politics”

  1. This was too short a discourse on so fun a topic. Barely whet my appetite, but did work as a good hors d’oeuvre πŸ™‚

    1. No way am I going to write in more detail. To go in more detail would mean talking about specific instances or politicians, and that may not be a very good idea.

      Indian politicians dont have a good track record of taking opposing viewpoints lightly, and I dont have any intentions of spending a night behind bars as a guest of the state. I might either end up being termed a maoist or the whole situation will be explained away as a “sajano ghotona” πŸ˜›

  2. Piyush Bhaiya,
    First of all congratulations for the taking the bold step of creating a website. I truly believe that a platform like this will this certainly have the potential for some interesting discussion.
    Coming to this article, I thought it was an interesting read but I don?t completely agree with you as I believe Indian politics deserves more credit for what it has achieved than for what it hasn?t.
    I understand the natural comparison to the US (Democrats and Republicans) but it is slightly unfair to compare a country which has existed for over 200 years to a country which is 68 years old; a population of 300 mn to 1.3 bn. President Obama?s Democrat party was formed in 1792 whereas Narendra Modi?s BJP was founded in 1980. Ideologies to which Democrats and Republicans swear by took centuries to develop. I am sure BJP/Congress will get there sooner.
    Thus, a better comparison will be with an Iraq (1932), Israel (1948), Myanmmar(1948), Ghana (1957), Malaysia (1957) and of course Pakistan (I can?t believe there is a comparison), and let?s be honest we are way ahead than all these countries.
    Yes, you are right in saying that Indian politics is one of convenience but Indian politics is also a politics of HOPE- that change is around the corner, that a new government will be better, non-corrupt and pro-development. And that?s perhaps why many states select state government alternatively (case in point- Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, UP, etc etc). Politian?s have been playing this card for decades and this seems to be working for them. But then again, Indian politics is not that simple. What can possibly explain the rise of regional political parties if not for some of the issues they raise. And Yes, Indian politics is about survival but it?s again a good virtue to have, as this very survival instinct makes them adaptable.
    Let me clarify I am not defending Indian politics, I detest most Indian politicians but more than that I am ashamed of the way the majority people of our country think and consequently votes- for why they continue to vote and support the obviously wrong people, for their aversion to question authority (A colonial trait we can never let go). Our Politian?s merely say and behave the way they know they will be most acceptable similar to a singer performing to an audience. What else could possibly explain that we have leaders such as Mulayam Singh (?Rape is ok?), Mamta Banerjee (?Everything is a small incident/conspiracy including rape, death of new born, Maoist?) and Sharad Pawar (?Everything I do is ok?) thriving in this country.
    I can go on and on writing about Indian politics but the purpose of this comment was not for that. It was indeed to let you know that you should keep this website active and running with posts across genres. (I have read the Marwari piece as well and wondered why you wrote that!)
    Lastly, you ended by stating your `cynicism and general dislike? for Indian politics but cynicism and dislike by the youth of the country is itself a sign for a better tomorrow.
    Cheers!
    Sourabh

  3. indian politics is simialr to boss employee work relationship…
    boss decides to have raise for all employeed by a game… Where in 2 options are there..1st colour and 2nd fruit…employee msut run to one post whenever boss says colour or fruit .

    Boss says “ORANGE”

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