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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
AN ANALYSIS OF INDIAN POLITY: The Politics of Scorning Politicians!
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By MANU JOSEPH, nytimes.com / Published: August 31, 2011.
NEW DELHI — On Sunday, when a tired old man ended his hunger strike by consuming coconut water laced with honey, the humiliation of the Indian government was complete. It was a dramatic but predictable end to a festive anti-corruption campaign that most of the Indian news media considered a revolution. Some even called it the “Indian Spring,” even though, according to the Indian Meteorological Department, India does not have a spring.
The 74-year-old social reformer, Anna Hazare, had threatened to fast unto death if the Indian government did not agree to establish his version of a powerful, autonomous anti-corruption agency. As the government resisted, thousands thronged to the venue of his fast to demonstrate how much they hated Indian politicians. What ensued was a carnival of music mixed with cries for a revolution and general abuse of politicians. Across the country, crowds marched in support of Mr. Hazare. Finally, the government gave in.
People rejoiced on the streets to celebrate the victory of their hero, Mr. Hazare, who has never run for public office, and for the defeat of the villainous government, whose members were elected by the citizens.
The way most Indians react to their political leaders, it is as if the politicians had fallen from another world. The fact is, although many members of Parliament do behave as though they have fallen hard on their heads, they have been chosen by the people of India in a genuine mass movement many times larger than the crowds Mr. Hazare has drawn, either in flesh and blood or on social media sites.
The government led by the Indian National Congress party was voted into power in 2009 by more than 150 million people, or nearly 40 percent of the Indians who cast their votes in the general elections that year. The simple fact is that in a democracy, the largest mass movement is democracy itself.
But, across all classes, a majority of Indians hate politicians even though they love democracy. The adoration for the world’s greatest political idea coexists with a deep loathing for the human embodiment of that idea.
If Indians hate their politicians so much, why do they stand in long, serpentine lines and vote for them?