Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Inheritance of a Political Loss

This post is somewhat self-reflectional. You'll understand it better if you are a political activist.

If anyone has cared to read newspapers and blog posts by the intelligentsia on the India Against Corruption saga, you'll notice that most of them carry vitriol against Anna Hazare and his cohorts especially the trio of Kejriwal, Bedi and Prashant Bhushan. The only positive seen by the intelligentsia from this movement is bringing the issue of corruption to the national conscience like never before. Everything else is criticism.

I think there are two major causes for this anger against IAC.

1. Political analysts/activists are genuinely disgusted by the blatant stupidity of the Janlokpal Bill and the arrogant way in which the trio have been forcing it on everyone.

2. The other cause is jealousy. Jealousy that such a movement has succeeded beyond anyone's wildest imagination.

The first is easy. One is not being uppity in calling the Janlokpal Bill stupid or the IAC leaders arrogant. Anyone who dispassionately studies the bill or listens to the IAC leaders will come to the same conclusion. But the movement has succeeded nevertheless. What explains that success?

One can suggest the following reasons for people supporting Anna Hazare.

1. that they have not studied the Janlokpal bill and are not familiar with the criticism against its basic structure (the attempt to create another branch, parallel to the executive). though these people may have heard simplistic criticisms against the govt version of the Lokpal Bill like the exclusion of the PM, judiciary and the lower executive.

2. that they were never really interested in politics or law making that conventional wisdoms in the field of political science don't inhibit their thought process now.

3. that they are merely expressing their frustration about corruption and couldn't care less which version of the lokpal bill is passed.

At the end of the day, its a democracy. If the people's representatives in Parliament feel that their constituents are so favorably inclined to pass the Janlokpal bill, then so be it.

Now to the other cause for the anger against IAC. Jealousy.

Its no fun spending a life-time advancing a nuanced position in political science only to be rolled over by the juggernaut of a stupid idea. There is anxiety in the political mind while the apolitical mind celebrates in agitation. The inability of Nitin Pai to refrain from tweeting about Annawallon, the discomfort faced by Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey, the belligerence of a Tavleen Singh or Shoma Chaudhary, the thoughtless article by Arundhati Roy or the nervousness of Nandan Nilekani. All of this comes from this anxiety in their political minds.

Its as if Political Science was suddenly removed from the University class schedules to be replaced by Newspeak. What are we political analysts/activists supposed to do now? Do we go back and advance another piece of Marxism or Hayek, suggest another small public policy idea to save tax payers money or find another unattended section of the society that deserves welfare ... you know ... another small pebble in the water pot kind of work ... when utterly clueless school kids parade to re-structure the Republic!!

And oh, now I understand Edmund Burke better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The criticism of all power in one agency is a very valid one but maybe its fine to create a new branch - given the current system has been ineffective. There are other parts like the selection committee, what are the powers of the individual members which need to be debated.

People might say - the current system is fine and the deficiencies need to be fixed, but I disagree with that.

I tend to agree that this agitation has got such unprecedented success has not gone well with some intellectuals, like you point out.