Government We Deserve
I think I was a student of class VII when I first read about Mahmud of Ghazni. It was a brief description. I came to know that he raided Indian sub-continent seventeen times and after every raid he went back with huge quantity if wealth looted from palaces, temples and houses of rich and ordinary people. He also took with him thousands of men, women and children who had been imprisoned by his army. This happened year after year for seventeen times.
Even at that age I would wonder at the character and calibre of political class that ruled different areas of sub-continent during that period. I could never understand the inability of rulers and ruled to present a united front to thwart Mahmud even once. I felt it humiliating to accept this reality and began to believe that the raids never took place and what I was reading in history book was only a fiction.
But today it is impossible for me to live in a make believe world of my own imagination. And when I observe the character and calibre of our current political elite I begin to understand, at least to some extent, the tragedy that befell on the people of sub-continent during first three decades of eleventh century, for it appears to me that the political class of that period could not have been any different from the political class of today; they must have been as self- centered, selfish and venal as are the political leaders of today.
What surprises me is the fact that, when we were fighting for our independence, we saw a procession of outstanding leaders who selflessly served the cause of freedom. Mahatma Gandhi, Tilak, Gokhle, Phirozshah Mehta, Dadabhai Naoroji, Dinshaw Wacha, Badrudin Tyabji, B C Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bose, Bhagat Singh; one can go on and on and on. Some of these leaders could be faulted for their methods and or ideology but there was not a single leader who could be faulted for his commitment, integrity, and sincerity. And their love for nation was unbounded.
We won independence and what followed was a downfall of political class; and corruption was not the only blemish. Everyone got busy establishing dynasties and perpetuating themselves in power. It should not surprise us if in another fifty years most, if not all, MPs turnout to be hereditary. Did any politician honourably and voluntarily retire from active politics, declining to contest an election when he could have? I can’t think of anyone.
Of course there are honourable exceptions like Manik Sarkar who are truly serving the people and not themselves or their families, castes, clans and hangers-on. But these exceptions are few and far between and seem to count for nothing on a national platform.
But are we not to be blamed if we allow such undeserving people to rule us? After all a nation gets the government it deserves. And looking at ourselves I sometimes wonder that perhaps we don’t deserve better leaders or a better government.