October 2007

So you just passed the board exams huh? Wow! Congratulations, you have just made it through the world’s toughest test of memorization and subsequent regurgitation. I mean there is a whole world open to you now. You could become a doctor, engineer, actor, scientist, comedian (wouldn’t advise it)….I mean you’re young, intelligent and loaded with energy. Hey, let me ask you something….Have you ever thought about politics? You know, as a career? You can make a killing (not literally). Hey!! Hang on!! Where are you going???

My generation does not like politics. It is something that we are forced to deal with in the papers and on the news, but as a majority, we don’t really have an interest in it. We have shown more collective interest in what Michael did with children than what Manmohan does for children. Jennifer Lopez is understandably more captivating that Jai Lalitha.

We are confused by politics. To most of us, politics is the equivalent of Karate lessons. It’s supposed to help you out, and all parents try to get you into it when you’re a kid, but eventually you lose interest. Plus they both have something to do with beating people up.

I decided to conduct an experiment. I asked twenty young people why they were not interested in politics. The answers were hilariously stereotypical.

So let’s start with the basics shall we? The dictionary defines politics in two ways:

  1. The activities associated with the governance of a country.

This is the actual definition of politics which is why it is so uninteresting to my generation. We don’t have time to think about the ‘behind the scenes’ activities. If is functioning, why question it? We look at politics much like we look at a toaster. We don’t give a damn about ‘the activities associated with the functioning of a toaster’. Just as long as it produces golden brown toast, were okay.

  1. Activities aimed at improving one’s status within an organization.

Congratulations ladies and gentlemen, it seems that we are all politicians in our own way. This only means that when we are talking, complimenting, lying, gossiping, working, tattling and negotiating for that improvement in work, relationships, salaries, annual vacations, mid size cars, flat screen TVs and frequent flyer miles…….we all have political potential.

Let’s get to the excuses: 

Politicians are corrupt: No! Really? I am sick and tired of people escaping by referring to politicians as a select group of corrupt, elitist, manipulative old men. In the spirit of pointing out the obvious, let me also point out that our politicians did not parachute down to earth in the middle of the night wearing tiny helmets with antennas (would have made a great movie though). They come from Indian homes and Indian families. And let’s not forget that they get voted in. The only people to blame for corrupt politicians are the voters themselves (If you’re guy didn’t win, you’re excused). Quit saying that the politicians are corrupt. They are not corrupt, society is corrupt. They were just smart enough to figure it out first.

All the politicians are old. Their ideologies are outdated: Wrong. Politicians are not old; they are just the only ones who are interested. If young people were actually interested in politics, the average age would drop. Mainly because the old people would die of cardiac arrest upon learning that we finally woke up. These allegedly ‘old’ politicians are deliberating over cutting edge technology that they don’t understand, modern education that they won’t receive, and plans that they will not be around to see implemented. Why? Because they care. Call me an optimist, but that’s what I believe. 

Technically, an 80 year old minister should not give a damn whether future Indo-Japanese relations will allow your kids to freely purchase the latest environment friendly electric car with included Bose surround sound, GPRS and airbags. To him, Bose is a Bengali man he meets for his morning walk, GPRS sounds like a scary medical procedure and he meets a lot of airbags in the office everyday. The future of our nation has become like the re-release of Mughle-Azaam in color. Old people showed up round the block, and a couple of younglings were dragged along kicking and screaming.

You have to be from a political family: I have news for you. You are from a political family. It’s called


. I know it’s a large family; you have a billion brothers and sisters which means that you’re bound to have some sibling issues. However, look on the bright side, your parents clearly got along well.

Politics has become all about religion: Now this one I agree with. Sometimes I feel like if god actually saw the amount of slick political maneuvering that being done to invoke his name, then he/she himself would have become an atheist. But isn’t that an elitist stand point as well?

Politics is not about religion, politics is about finding a way to reach the people and gather support. It just so happens that in our country, that way is religious. Politicians will use what they can get. It is a novel idea to preach the separation of politics and religion when you are an upper middle class, well educated, morally flexible individual. The remaining 90% of the country only has two priorities, survival and religion. To them, a politician ensures their survival, and their religion gives them the hope to survive. So let’s accept this one at face value, until mass education prevails, they will always be intermingled.

Politics is boring: Now this one I disagree with. I think Politics has all of the entertainment value of a good Saas-Bahu serial. Granted that some of the politicians could use a few make-up/fashion tips and background dramatic music could surely spice up the Lok Sabha fights, but the content is still great. Marriages are formed, broken, secret alliances go on, people die, come back to life, lies are told, truths are revealed and leaders get makeovers. The only difference is that it happens in the board room instead of the bedroom (Except in the case of Clinton whom had a knack of combining the two).

Why do you think so many actors enter politics? It’s an easy transition. Give it a chance. Watching politics is like watching formula one racing. It’s an acquired taste, but its fun to see people go round and round in circles.

Politics is kind of like the guy who frisks you at the airport. You usually would not lend an ear to anything he has to say. But when he has got his hands firmly gripping the seat of your pants, you are one attentive and interested listener. We have developed this selfish attitude to politics where we usually ignore it, and are suddenly up in arms when it affects us directly. We don’t care who the chief minister is until he starts closing the clubs at midnight

. We don’t care who is on the education board until cut offs for college are announced. We don’t care about Indian foreign policy until we get rejected for our VISA to


. It is ironic that in a country where the young and educated are rumored to be it’s future, the rural and uneducated have a greater interest in politics for survival.

Let me wrap up by saying that this is not one of those clichéd ‘You are the future!’ articles. This is also not a ‘become a politician’ piece. Having chosen comedy for a profession, it is clear that career counseling is not my forte. All I am saying is; take an interest. That’s all it takes. You’re missing out on some great stuff here. Lopez is just a singer, but Laloo is the real rock star.   

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