Impact of the Prevailing Political Culture


 Dr.Rao VBJ Chelikani            

                        Life to-day appears to be totally linked to politics by political parties and the society is subjected to and affected by governments that are operating according to their political logic. This is not a healthy situation and it does not help to evolve the society and to its transformation towards harmonious and cooperative living together of all human beings. If it continues, we will not be able to build a society to live in Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Legality. Since Power, especially the hard political power is an evil inherently, the Political Culture that is prevailing in the contemporary society is influencing the human and mind and behavior negatively. Or, rather it is bringing out our atavistic animal instincts back. Worse than maintaining stagnation, the present political culture is further degrading human relations. Our aspirations to build a society where citizens freely express their potential are not being fulfilled. Therefore, the conclusion that we should draw of this present state of things is that other active citizens and live forces in the society like the civil society organisations, academic institutions, professional bodies should intensify their efforts to promote a democratic and humanistic culture that contributes to human development and social development, ceaselessly.

What is the Prevailing Political Culture?

            In the 21st century we have begun to live in transition towards a post-modern globalised societies undergoing 4th Industrial Revolution, with varying degrees of progress in each country; and among the countries. No doubt, our ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ concept and other universal values exposed by other dominant or at least most mobile civilizations have left their strong imprint on the history of humankind. Since the British Magna Carta, the French Revolution, the October Revolution in Russia, and the two world wars, there emerged in the 21st century, some common human aspirations are synthesized in a synergetic and syncretic manner. The United Nations Charter and its Organisation has exposed a universal consensus to recognize some inalienable fundamental individual human rights; and also development, social harmony and peace as collective rights of all people. Most of the countries like India have adopted democratic governance to implement these principles and committed to speedy democratization of human relations not only in political sphere, but also in economic, social and, above all, in cultural relations.

1.         In terms of external relations or foreign policy, the state has become the single source of absolute power and each state declares itself as absolute sovereign over the people living within its borders, and refuses to accept any outside intervention of any UN body, as interference in its internal affairs. Still some states are not respecting the individual freedoms and some states are committing genocides and other crimes against humanity; and some are producing, refining and piling up nuclear arms, knowing that it will lead to assured mutual destruction and even annihilation of the entire human race from this planet. At the international level, the diplomatic bureaucrats are not promoting people to people friendship and cooperation, but rather playing the game of Balance of Power politics. International relations have become a political Olympic games, played continuously. India is spending enormous amounts of foreign exchange on a huge number of embassies abroad which have very limited contact with the people in those countries. However, we should realize that we will never be able to acquire enough military Power to impose our solutions upon our neighbours. Not even our membership in the Security Council with veto power, for which status, we are making many efforts and spending money, would help it. We should, on the other hand, mobilize collective pressure of the international community by ways of international arbitration, judgements, etc.  International economic non-cooperation is becoming more effective than waging a war against unfriendly states. What is happening now is in the interest of the political state; not in the interest of the people in it.

2.         Building better human relations based on Political power cannot be a permanent tool, even if it was initially proved to be indispensable for human security, stability and social order in the primitive societies. We can measure the negative impact of this prevailing political culture in India on Human Development & Social Development and the resulting wastage of human energies in these days of fast human transformations.  Initially, the purpose of the human beings in joining the society is to participate in social development, so that it facilitates self-development harmoniously. The agencies and institutions formed under the Charter of the United Nations Organisation (UNO) by the people of all nations (not States!) have been trying to redefine and promote these two developments to happen simultaneously, as they are inter-dependent. All the states are also proclaiming to work for the same but are unable to implement them efficiently, as their motivations are different. Most of their self-congratulatory statistics of achievements are biased to the extent of being outright dishonesty. But, the UN Agencies are periodically articulating the Index and indicators to measure the extent of material progress achieved, state-wise. They indicate that compared to other states, India is lagging behind in spite of 70 years of efforts.

3.         Now the political parties are dominating the state or even capturing it to satisfy party leaders’ ambitions and interests. Undoubtedly, the Communist Party of China is the model for all political parties. It owns the state, not just its government and is trying to control the whole society. In a ‘welfare state’ the politician is doing a shepherd’s job i.e. taking care of directly feeding, clothing and sheltering all people. People are coached to remain dependents upon their favours and remain beneficiaries of the generosity of those to whom they are loyal. Public expenditure of the tax-payers money by the authorities is notoriously wasteful and non-transparent. For example, in all developmental projections, the economic actors in the country are not trusted and are not empowered. People are not given the scope to grow after making mistakes and develop themselves with their own initiatives and participation. Political parties are spending the whole period of five years hunting for power and for retaining it, without any constructive projects. They are inciting divisions and conflicts among the individuals within the communities in terms of caste, religion and numbers. Indian diversity is exploited to divide people, instead emphasizing cooperation for mutual enrichment.

4.         But, at the same time, it is very important to look at the ‘software’ of human development in terms of human values, articulated and affirmed as human rights and duties. Human progress cannot be sustained if Government officers and peoples’ representatives continue to claim permanently that they are solely responsible for everything. Soon after our independence, our concern was poverty, but now we should focus upon development, which alone can wipe out poverty and make man think beyond bread. Power should be used to empower the individual to express all his physical and mental faculties fully and to define and design himself a purpose or a mission in life. Respect and not pity should be given to all human beings for their intrinsic worth or value or the virtues they possess. In Upanishadic thinking also, it is encouraged that man has to know himself and he is the creator. He can and should perfect himself. The politicians cannot play the role of a guru. Man must exercise his freedoms without being prompted or incentivised or dictated by a superior power, especially political power.

5.         This democratic process is stuck up with the present regime of rue by Representatives, who are not representing any mission or vocation of the people. They are representing political parties. The political class, split into political parties is seriously hindering the rapid growth of human and social capital in the country and diverting all human and material resources for power-capturing. They are preventing further democratization of not only political power but also in other vital social, economic and cultural spheres of human activity. The entire society is operating on power-based hierarchy, eternally competing for more protocols, opportunities, advantages, immunities, privileges and prerogatives. Even though formal democratic procedures like elections are adopted, they are not inspired by democratic and humanistic values. Those who conquer power are behaving exactly like the former aristocrats, princes, monarchs and colonial rulers whom we have dethroned, not by employing force but by dialogue and ‘satyagraha’.        

II.        What kind of Society do we want?

            The Human Development Index as defined and elaborated initially by Mahabub ul Haq in UNDP measures the progress on key dimensions of quality of living conditions, but it does not take into account the quality of life.

            All human beings are born free and equal in worth and dignity. They are all intelligent and capable of living their lives under all circumstances. Some individuals who desire power and dominate others and make others believe that they are superior to them. The rich people also. Though they might lead a higher standard of living, they have to still strive for better quality of life, equally like others.

            Social Development should permit to provide equal opportunities for all for self development. Thus self development helps to develop the society and in return, social development would help human development. Social development demands more harmony in human interactions and pursuits. That is building a community for mutual support for co-development.

            The sense of fraternity expresses itself in give and take among people living together. This solidarity might be expressed as philanthropy in times of need. The donors are explaining their parting with their hard earned money as ‘giving back’, while ministers generously distribute the tax-payers money as ‘ex-gratia’ grants when their hearts are moved by a pathetic event. Real social development is indicated when everybody subscribes to a universal social security system. Instead of doing that, the political parties vie with each other, to announce very innovative specific welfare measures or even free gifts to each group of people who are likely to vote for them.  

            In a society persons have to live by the ethics, norms and rules fixed by themselves. It is an ideal society, where there is no need for politicians to make rules for others, while they themselves are exempted from following them. For any anti-social act, the judgement of the fellow citizens is the most effective judgement. Good conduct cannot be preached or instructed. Everybody has to learn by trials and error as to how to behave with others in various occasions.      

            In order to reduce the social pollution by the political culture and to counter these trends, the active citizens should develop, promote and highlight many alternative soft personal powers of many actors in economic, social and cultural spheres. During elections, not only we should vote but also campaign for independent persons with constructive ideas and humanistic values. We should show respect to the Individuals in the society for their capacity to inspire fellow-citizens and for their social contribution to democratic and humanistic values. Our heroes should come from those who show excellence, skills and creativity in their walks of life, as researchers, scientists, professors, managers, doctors, engineers, artists and sports persons. 

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