Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Inner Voice - II

In my last post I wrote about two unusual career-related decisions:
a) Five IITians entering politics
b) A consultant chucking his job to become a full time writer.

While both decisions are guided by an 'inner voice', clearly what the voice is saying are different things.

What the writer hears is: "Take a risk and make a career out of your natural talents." His gamble is purely on himself.

What the budding politicians hear is: "Serve your country. Give back to your countrymen". They have no natural 'aptitude' or talent for this. In that sense their decision is far riskier and idealistic. And open to ridicule as well.

Just being IITians does not automatically ensure these young men will make better or more honest politicians. But it does not mean they need to be condemned or written off before they start (reference: some of the comments to my last post ).

There is a case to be made for youth and idealism. Spending 10 years working in Bell Labs and then entering politics would not make these young men any the wiser or more effective.

We get what we deserve
Indian politics is badly in need of fresh blood. Because the current crop is teeming with rotten apples.

As the Association for Democratic Reform observed during the Bihar elections: Affidavits filed with the Election Commission one in three candidates fielded by major political parties had chargesheets pending against them.

So like I said, the road ahead for Paritrana is very very difficult but let's give them some time and room to make a few mistakes.

Otherwise, we have no business sighing about dynastic rule or criminalisation of politics.

What the party stands for
Jahaan tak rahi ideology ki baat, here's what their website (which appears to have been fixed) has to say:

Sabhi sukhi hon (All should be happy)
Sukh ka mool samriddhi hai (The root of happiness is prosperity)
Samriddhi ka mool rajya hai (The root of prosperity is the governance)
Rajya ka mool dand hai (The root of good governance lies in the system of reward and punishment)

Their website further explains: In less organized society the punishing side of Dand predominates. In more organized society the reward side of Dand predominates. In any case it is Dand that rules. The role of the System, the Government, the State, or that of a King is to "regulate" Dand, not to hold it. And when Dand is not properly regulated it destroys the State and its people. That's what has happened in past and is happening in the present society.

Now an economist may argue this is simplistic but so far I see no trace of rabid Hindu nationalism - the variety that excludes other communities.

Yes, they've used a quote from the Rig Veda on their website. Why should that 'offend' anyone? It is a part of our common heritage - whatever faith we may belong to today.

The tragedy is that unlike the Greek, Roman or Egyptian civilisations ours did not die out... So any reference to collective wisdom of the past becomes 'anti-secular', anti-the-idea-of-a-modern-India.

There, writing that one line I know will invite comments about me being a Hindu fundamentalist. Which is as offensive as people saying that all Muslims who take pride in aspects of their culture or religion are supporters of Taliban or Bin Laden or whatever.

Getting back to the original topic - the IITians joining politics. My lengthy defence of a group of people I do not know personally is based merely on a matter of principle. Everybody deserves a chance.

Of course, politicians must be accountable, whether they are cowherds or IITians. Magar abhi to innings shuru hui hai... what follows may be a series of ducks or some brilliant centuries.

Let's wait and watch.


  1. For reasons too boring to go into here, I am not excited about it as much as you'd want me to.

    I am not even sure how experienced they are at activism. People who vote to power don't care much about the IIT tag.

    If these guys can draw crowd and make them listen, and remain focussed on goals germane to their conviction, its good. But I fear the convinced-altruism of the IIT/IIM sort might make them think of this as some kind of non-profit startup.

    Politicians are made in Universities. IIT/IIMs, so far have been notable exceptions.

    Notwithstanding my eternal, perpetual cynicism, my Best Wishes are with them.

    Go, make a difference!

  2. even if just to save our civilisation's past, what we need is a party that makes no bones about being influenced by our history but refuses to blindingly follow regional/religional divisions...

    ... if gandhi could quote the vedas and follow the gita yet be act as a messiah for both religions, why can't we?

  3. There is a saying that "Youth will have its swing" or that most inventions were attempted by youth who at that time did not know that they were inventions.

    One should still laud the initiative though it is different from Michael Dell of Bill Gates opting out of universitites to start businesses.

    At stated in the end, the whole issue is one of accountability. It is strange that for management goals we are accountable to our bosses on a daily or weekly basis but people in public life have no such accountability once they are elected.

    Rajiv Gandhi with 400 MPs in parliament had stated that only 15 percennt of the actual funds reached the poor. So the issue is not what the party stands for but how they are going to implement. Indira Gandhi coined the slogan "Garibi hatao" but it was Narasimha Rao/ Manmohan singh who actually did it with liberalization. Even Dhirubhai Ambani was great because of implementation.
    Anybody can launch a party with idealistic slogans which stalwarts from the film industry also did during emergency with the nationalist party. It turned out to be schoolboy enthusiasm.

    You really have a unique style, Rashmi and a knack for picking unique topics. Really enjoyed these two.

  4. significant correction:-

    "most inventions were attempted by youth who at that time did not know that they were inventions"

    should be read as

    "most inventions were attempted by youth who at that time did not know that they were possible"

  5. good luck to these men..

    i am a bit surprised at the blatant right-wing stuff on their website though.
    what glorious indian golden age ? what's the glory in 5% of society exploiting
    the masses ? besides, i thought all IITians are Ayan Rand and Pink Floyd fans.
    Anyways, here's wishing them all the best... ! (but they are not getting my vote
    with that right-ist golden age talk)


  6. That was really inspirational Rashmi-thanks for letting all of us know about these 5 youth.Politics in India is a gutter I am told-hope that these guys will be able to cleanse it to some extent. Whether they suceed or not is a different issue-but the very fact that they have thought and implemented something is wrong thousands of

  7. Rashmi, dont talk about ducks, it may give many a heart attack. india still need to make 233 to avoid follow on :(.

  8. hi Rashmi,

    Veda is as much mine as any other indian-hindu or muslim. And i also believe so is Urdu as a cultural heritage!
    As on politics, don't you think people get what they deserve and deserve what they get. remember people like Manmohan singh (no less a scholar than an IITian)losing from South delhi once, supposed to be inhabited by 'educated kind'. we all want clean politics, but when it comes to voting, no one is ready to eschew his own caste/religion interests in favor of a candidate who might otherwise be the 'cleanest'.

  9. Following the link on your 2nd post, I read some of the comments on your 1st post. You are right.
    Any IITian with or without experience would be better than the current lot of criminal and illiterate politicians. At least they are educated. Not just educated but quite well educated.
    I believe if there is one metric which should decide who would be a better person managing the country, it would be education. For that matter not just managing the country but for doing anything responsible.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. I wonder if the leadership makes any diffrence.Policy framing is done by beuraucrats anyways. In fact it might be detrimental to have thorough intellectuals running the country. a lopsided idealistic view, a tendency that cultured class carries,wud be an unnecessary baggage. and btw who wud vote for them?? who wud be able to relate to aerospace engg when immediate concern is roti-kapdaaaur makaan.

    all the best guys...

  12. It definitely is a revolution for Indian Politics...when IITians jump in to it. But I would advise the author to check the authencity of the claims made e.g. did they really chucked the big paying job or, was it just sitting on bench at Infosys (not that there is nothing wrong with it :). What could be wrong though is the intentions for pursuing this career? So basically it boils down to that it's not the education that makes you a good politician it's your intentions. Also, verse from Veda doesn't necessarily means Hindu fundamentalism BUT what these IITians intend is important! So, the author, please verify your facts if the new "politicans" really mean what they say or, they still belong to cult? Being from IITB at the same time aforementioned people were there, I know some of these would have loved to throw a brick to demolish the Babri Masjid. In that case, I don't think they hold any promise for the country anyway. So a research before you delve into something of this value would be highly appreciated.
    A word of caution: Never assume that all IITians are good brains with a fat paycheck at the end of rainbow! There are slackers and you don't know where you might run into them.
    - An IITian, a religious Hindu and a Slacker.

  13. It's an irony that just a few days back I had written this post

    :D so going by this... saying that since this youth sacrificed their wud-be-privilege-job-with-hefty-pay, they would be loyal to the nation, is an incorrect assumption.
    And Rashmi ended her post.... yes, we have to "wait n watch" and then say.

  14. Sorry to be offtopic, but congratulations, I wanted you to know that FastCompany has a link back to you--along with others--here.

  15. Wow, so easy to criticise! I am amazed at the carping critical comments. There does not seem to be one commenter who supports them completely.

    How cynical do you have to be to assume (a) they may not have had a great job in the first place (b) they are probably fundamentalists (c) it's unlikely they are going to be able to do much!! Whatever jobs these guys had, I feel pretty sure it was better than the insecurity of politics. Even seasoned politicians routinely lose so of course novices are going to have a hard time. As for religion : I am an agnostic, don't care much for any religion. But I have no problem quoting the Geeta or the Vedas or the Sermon on the Mount, so I seriously doubt a quotation from the Rig Veda makes u a fundie.

    Despite the inherent insecurity and natural fear that the entrenched & corrupt politicians will not let them affect change they have decided to follow thier inner voice and make an attempt to do soemthing good. Instead of being applauded and lauded they seem to be generating cynicism and suspicion.

    I for one, salute them and hope they can truly be catalysts for change in our moribund political system. Remember we get the politicians (I would not deign to call our current politicians leaders) we deserve.

  16. They've just launched the party and their website is still under construction. So instead of jumping to conclusions, it would be better to maintain restrain until they come out with their intentions and goals. Being IITians should neither be a qualification nor a disqualification to become politicians. Scores of people have trouble deciding to return to India leaving good paying jobs with apprehensions on income and living conditions in India. If these guys have given up careers to join politics, it is highly commendable. They have talked about the problems which most of us know and defined Paritrana as a solution. I'm hoping to see the steps they would outline to justify the definition of Paritrana.

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