I starkly remember how the Home Minister of Karnataka, KJ George, stirred a controversy when he insensitively redefined the meaning of rape “90% rape cases are consensual,” he was quoted saying as reported by Press Trust of India. It is not the first time an Indian politician has said something so insensitive. Sometimes they make you doubt their sanity; at other times they make you laugh and cry. But there are times when these statements make up for global news paving a downward way for India’s political standards.
We have interlocked ourselves into unending debates pertaining to the minimum education bar. Socrates, the pioneering philosopher from Greece had an aversion for democracy for a simple reason: If irrational people represent our country, consequently they will select a series of unscholarly leaders.
Our Constitution does not mention anything about educational qualifications to become an MP or MLA. This age-old criterion is questionable now because governance in India has become more challenging and political executives are expected to catch up with the challenges by constantly updating themselves. I wonder what makes the Parliament abstain from making any amendment in the Representation of People Act, 1951 pertaining to the requirement of minimum academic qualification for contesting the elections, do you?
I do get how debates end with an unappalling statement “Being literate is a highly desirable trait, but it can’t be mandatory as well”. Let’s go a little deeper. On the contrary, a wise adage proclaims that “An impartial education in politics would increase participation in elections with electors voting armed with a knowledge and understanding of party politics rather than a reliance on spin and media prejudices.” In India, around 80% of the politicians are not even graduates which is quite a disturbing statistical figure. Unschooled politicians find it difficult to cope up with global changes and to understand the diplomatic situations with other countries of the world. It’s a proven fact that more educated countries like Japan and Russia consistently have better governments as also shown by World Bank’s Governance Indicators. We perpetually try to match International benchmarks yet we give the authority to someone who is not eligible and then eventually complains about the scandals going on in the country- it is a terrible recurring cycle. India has its own feathers to ruffle, but those ruffles need to be streamlined.
I don’t ask for ‘High levels’ of education-all I ask for is the basic minimum level of supervised rationality as a criterion that will come handy to run a government. While some may argue that certain political leaders who are supposedly well-qualified faces of the country but on many occasions, they’ve given major political setbacks -but this doesn’t connote to education not be the criteria for selection. Rather this is an indication of how power is misused when people’s lack of common sense supersedes country’s welfare as a whole-which generally happens when people can’t ‘interpret’ education in a righteous manner. Let’s understand this better: political power has coalesced with economic power. Political power juxtaposed with economic power is used to maintain power even by unscrupulousness and skewed means. As a stellar combination, it provides numerous opportunities to rule all the associations or organisations which prove deleterious in maintaining power monopoly. Let’s canvas the root cause of India’s plight owing to bad governance: Political underdevelopment stems, to a great degree, from low levels of the dependence of state elites on their own citizens. Poor world states are relatively homogenous in their formal organisational characteristics. The heterogeneity in the actual functioning of states stems largely from wide differences in patterns of state-society relations. The book ‘Bad Governance and Corruption’ authored by Richard and Caryn proclaims rightly and hence the UI quote, “More than 1.8 billion people pay the price of bad government each year, by sending a bribe to a public official. In developing countries, corruption owing to bad scrutiny of leaders’ literacy affects social services, such as health care and education, and law enforcement institutions, such as the police. When public officials do not act as bureaucrats delivering services by the book, people can try to get them by hook or by crook.”
We might as well have to push certain qualitative metrics to be necessary for the qualification of politicians or we will start regressing towards bleak ages doomed with uneducated youth, declining rates of literacy and an unaware society. To reaffirm, it is evident that good governance depends upon the quality of leadership and no state can make progress unless its leaders are well educated, and separated from wealth and hold high values of wisdom- an ideology first set forth by Socrates. Democracy doesn’t solely connote ‘right to vote’ but it stands for the right to elect educated, sagacious, conscious and efficient representatives, who possess the candor to work for the welfare of the society, quite literally and figuratively.