I wanted to look at it from the other end of the table, how it is, being a present day political leader in INDIA. I am trying it from my personal perspective.
When we read any news paper, at least 75% of the news is about politics/politicians. No wonder that is the case, people are watching and reading that news everyday indicating that politics is part of everyday life. If anybody assumes that the news is about the government and not regarding the politics, the assumptions are incorrect and also it is incorrect to assume that the news papers/channels are to present the news to the people as to how the ruling government is performing on a daily basis, we are mistaken.
If people are not reading that political news, those news papers/channels wouldn’t be publishing about the entire politics instead of news just related to the government. My point here is that all the news about politics is coming out of people’s interest and politics are part of everybody’s daily life. This is so true for everyone who opens a news paper or turns-on a news channel for whatever reason. Whether everyone agrees to it or not, governments, which are formed by politics, do influence our lives everyday. You might be in any country or any field of work/study/business; it is the politics (Governments) which influences the decision making activity/process at one or the other level.
So….how is it being a political leader in present day politics. Being such an influential field of work, it is well known in INDIA as a dirty play and one of the worst fields to choose as a career choice. It is a well known fact that very few would choose politics as their career. I keep wondering, is it because it is so complicated that people don’t want to enter into it or it is so easy that no one respects that field and people don’t want to choose that? I am damn sure that I can’t find a fair answer for that.
No political leader is out of the space, they became leaders because people chose him/her to be. In realty, it’s definitely a very tough career to excel in: because you will be interviewed (at least screened your resume/capabilities) by countless number of people when they vote for you. It’s not that you become a leader with one or two interviews like you get any other job with interviews conducted by limited number of people. More importantly, the organizations (political parties) you choose are not equal opportunity providers and the only way to prove your talent is by getting a job (by getting elected). Who is going to give you that job? The answer is people who vote for you in the election.
Where do you start if you choose politics as your career? When is one called as a political leader? The organizations (political parties) will not name you as their representative until and unless you prove them that you are electable. If you go to the people, they will not elect you if you are not from a well known party or if you are not a well known leader by yourself. So, it’s an uncertainty. You may have to start working closely with people and fight on behalf of them and prove yourself a better qualified leader. You will be monitored by so many people and in addition to that, you cannot plan what you are going to achieve in a certain period of time which is unlikely in other careers. There is no corporate ladder that you can think of. You may or may not be in that job (elected position) after serving a term irrespective of your talent and hard work. It’s another uncertainty. Politics is definitely a challenging career to choose.
Coming to the finances, you will never get paid by either the government or the organization that you represent before getting elected. It’s like any other job; you won’t get paid when you are trying to get a job. The twist here is, when anyone is trying to get elected, money is involved in every step. You need to take care of your personal responsibilities apart from proving yourself as a qualified leader. You are bound to spend some money as part of your career building. You have to work on your own to collect funds for all of your pre-election work. You have to publicize yourself to those who will vote. For that, you may have to get your own funds or you may have to go to the public for their contributions and you have to prove them that you are capable of getting elected, as they only want to contribute to those who can win. All this career building will not happen in a few days; it takes many years for anyone to become a recognizable leader. This might be the reason for most of the people to choose politics as a career after they settle down in some or the other career and pursue politics as a part time affair. By the time one settles in his business/job, it would be around the middle age. Starting political career at that age will make that person an old aged political leader. There is a strong belief in INDIA that you have to be filthy rich to choose politics as a career. I am not quite sure, if I can agree with that. I think, you should be rich enough, if you want to get elected overnight without serving/fighting for those people who elect you. You just buy those people and get elected. It is like….you need to be rich enough to buy your job instantly without working hard for it. I was convinced to an extent when I spoke to a middle class person who is contesting in this election that one should have enough money before trying to get elected, enough to spend the amount permitted by the election commission. When I extended him my help to campaign for him, all he wants was just funds and nothing else, as he has own way of campaigning.
If you go by the rules……After getting elected, you will be a representative of all the people who elected you. At the same time, you are answerable for the same people. It’s kind of a double edged knife: You have to fight for the people who made you their leader and prove that you are doing your job right and you have to answer those people and the party’s (enterprise that you are affiliated with) higher authorities. If you satisfy both, you may end up with some authority/power to rule which is going to be more responsible. Again, I may have to repeat the first paragraph here. Ruling government/people is not an easy job, it’s more like a CEO of a public company. So, you are going to be a part of everybody’s daily life. The decisions you take may change the directions of businesses/people and altogether generations. You will be watched and judged by so many people and will be criticized in every move. Whatever, the best you do, there will be someone else who can claim that he/she can do better than you. You have to be so careful to save your job.
It is so weird that being such an influential job/career, it is so unpopular in present days especially in INDIA. I don’t think if I ever heard of anyone telling me that he/she is a political leader and anyone planning their career to become a political leader. Incase, if anyone discusses about politics, people seem to be laughing at him/her and the entire discussion about politics became “a topic to pass time”. Everyone says that politics and political leaders are dirty and no one wants to be closer to them. Those who hate politics and leaders have to understand the REAL fact that it is the same politics and leader that influence their daily lives. The very same people want someone to come forward and change the entire present day politics in whole INDIA and they will support that person. But, they don’t want to encourage their kid to become a politician. Everyone says that political leaders are corrupted and the entire system is corrupted. How did they (leaders) end up as corrupted people? I don’t think they are corrupted by birth or they are corrupted from day one that they got elected. If we ask any politician, why they are corrupt, and the answer would be that the same people who elected him/her made them the way they are now. Because, after getting elected, people expect favors from their leader starting with as small as a ration card, they want it even if they are not qualified. If someone goes to a police station for his/her wrong doings, they expect their leader to release them using the power/influence. The people who provided monitory benefits would like some favors in return: The businesses and people who contributed in terms of monitory help to get a leader elected would want their favors back. Those (businesses) people want to take advantage of the govt. schemes. If that leader rejects or goes by rules, he/she will not be elected next time and his/her career will be jeopardized. He/she may have to give up the career that they built till that point.
In the midst of such a bizarre public opinion on politics, there are still great leaders in present day politics. Without those good leaders, I don’t think we would have the service/benefits that we are having now. On the other hand, we do see the corrupted/hard core criminals getting elected as our representatives. This is totally different aspect of politics; I want to write another posting on criminalization of politics to explain that side of politics.
In the end, I want to make a point that it is not as easy to become a political leader as we blame them for their corruption and inactiveness. It is equally/more difficult to survive as a leader when compared to any other job. The corruption that everybody (including me) talks about is not coming out only from the politicians; it is the people like you and me who are encouraging it. Since everybody is selfish and everybody wants some or the other personal favor, we compromise and act according to our interest. But, when it comes to the politics and politicians, we want them to be free from any mistake. We go to the same politician/leader for our personal favors. When we blame the governments for their inactiveness/inefficiency, we equally deserve the blame for not choosing the right leaders. It’s just not about not selecting the right leaders but also corrupting them for our needs.