By Syed Suhail Yaqoob
True leadership is uncommon these days. There has been a steep slide in the ethical, moral and political responsibility that earlier leaders used to take on their shoulders. Today all over the world, all types of leadership is in crisis- especially the political one. Our leaders lack vision of future which would have made the world better place to live. They only try to cash in on communalism, casteism, radicalism to gain more power for their own needs and ends. This can be seen in almost every election across the world.
In India, which is considered to be the largest democracy, every local, regional and national election is preceded by some kind of riot. Communal riots have been a theme in this land. A study conducted on sixteen major states in India from 1958 to 2004 found that that onset of elections is associated with an increase in riots. Moreover, the intensity of riots, proxied by rate of growth rate of riots increases in scheduled election years. This means that as an incumbent government nears the elections, riots and intensity of riots keeps increasing, while this is exactly opposite during the early years of incumbent government in office. These results suggest that elections generate “riots cycle” in regionally, ethnically, culturally and socially diverse country like India.
Even if this was not enough, politicians resort to unruly behaviour in the state assemblies and national legislatures. It is common to find them engaged in fighting and abusive behaviour, using filthy worlds against each other.
The assembly is supposed to be the platform where different things could be discussed with a sense of dignity and grace. Unfortunately, this is not happening. In our state, there have been many instances where lawmakers resorted to brute force and unruly behaviour inside the assembly. It is shocking to see that sometimes our representatives use weapons to hit each other. The worst day in Indian parliamentary system was when MP’s used pepper spray, broken glass and stationery items to hurt each other. The protest against the controversial Telangana Bill turned ugly the moment Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde tabled the bill in the Lok Sabha session. It is almost a dream to expect our political leaders to ever let a session go by smoothly with them giving each other time to speak and voice their opinions. This has become a norm throughout the world.
This kind of unruly behaviour is seen to be correlated with the ‘Criminalisation’ of politics, and the concomitant lack of education among politicians. There is the intrusion of criminals into politics which has distorted the system of parliamentary democracy. Almost in every political system there is a certain percentage of MP’s who have a beleaguered past. In India , for example, going by the statistics, the General Election of 2014 has seen the highest number of politicians with criminal records being elected to Indian parliament. As per records, every third newly elected MP in the Indian system has a criminal record.
It is the constitution and a vigorous judiciary that has to come to the rescue of parliamentary democracy. And it is the media upon which the duty of educating people about the pro and cons of criminal people getting elected to highest chambers of power falls. But the intrusion of corporate money into media has made it difficult for media to provide an unbiased view of the world, its politics and the political class.
‘Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations’, stated the management Guru, Peter Drucker. Leadership is therefore about showing the way to common masses and leading in difficult situations. There is, however, a growing tendency among the leaders to follow their own desires and narrow ambitions. Their detachment from masses is demonstrated by their lower ethical standards shown especially in the public domain and space. There then is a need generate responsibility among our leaders so that they can become bearers of our progress and development. Without a leader, a nation is bound to collapse under its own contradictions. It is incumbent upon the political class to lead from the front. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘Lead from the front — but don t leave your base behind’.
—The author is pursuing a Ph.D from Aligarh Muslim University and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org