To be human is to be sanctimonious, and politics is a most inelegant medium of and for its expression. Mendacity and turpitude are its eternal concomitants, and so great appears to be societal acceptance of moral iniquity that no endorsement is ever withdrawn from the serial charlatans that pervade this necessary yet begrimed profession. We would be led to believe that the acrimony complementary to modern politics is a question of civilizational survival. It is difficult to disagree on many an occasion; there are such principles as freedom of expression, freedom of enterprise and right to equality before law which ought eternally to assume a non-negotiable essence. Any distortion of these principles is an egregious erosion of liberty.
The unseen yet formidably real nemesis that is the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed most of India’s politicians for what they are: abominably incompetent and slothful moral vacuums. From the Prime Minister to likely many city mayors, no one is to be exculpated for this recrudescence. There have been calls for resignation, as if the virus were but a civilizing apostle of reason that would bid us farewell and return to its Wuhan abode having enlightened us of our nation’s systemic ineptitude. Indeed not! The virus is here to stay. Resignations shall be of no consequence — arguably worse than having a government at the helm — and any other government is likely to perform as bad or even worse than the incumbent.
One recalls a supremely illuminating excerpt of a conversation over lunch between two eminent characters in the immortal British T. V. series Yes, Minister, in the context of the prime minister’s early retirement: Sir Arnold Robinson, the former cabinet secretary; and Sir Humphrey Appleby, the incumbent cabinet secretary.
Sir Arnold: So, will our next Prime Minister be our eminent Chancellor or our distinguished Foreign Secretary?
Sir Humphrey: That is what I wanted to ask you. Which do you think it should be?
Sir Arnold: Difficult. It is like asking which lunatic should run the asylum.
Glancing at the assortment of those who the myriad political parties in India are likely to project as their respective prime ministerial candidates, it would be most precarious to insist that none of them merits the most contemptible of adjectives. Many advance the argument of Prime Minister Modi’s good intentions in contrast to the sullied souls of others. I am not for a moment disposed consider this view with even a soupcon of gravitas, but if so, would one not concur that results are of greater essence than intentions? Which politically acceptable candidate, and which squalour of an alliance, is to assume command in the hypothetical event of the BJP’s resignation?
What is most odious is that we seem to have substantially lost basic courtesy in our spirited defence of politicians and ideologies of which the politicians claim to be guardians and epigones. Politics, I noted earlier, appears to be our new religion. The slightest of deviation from one pole or another amounts to apostasy. I cannot imagine what shall ignite a unified public sentiment of apoplexy against India’s deficit of enforcement and the unwillingness of every government to introspect and rectify.
These events can serve to disillusion the most ardent of those interested in politics, in whom once may have flared the fervour of reforming this necessary means of public discourse and of eventual government. I for one can no longer bear further negative news. It is best to permit an interregnum; and engage in convalescent reading and perhaps writing.