Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A.G. Noorani, "Anti-politics machine," Frontline, Volume 26, Issue 02, January 17-30, 2009

Neither politics nor the politician deserves sweeping censure. Such censure is an abdication of public duty.

  Be it a sports club or a women’s organisation, the ghost of politics will stalk its floors because conflicting interests exist within its domain.

“POLITICS is a preoccupation of free men, and its existence is a test of freedom.” It is too much to expect people who went on television to grab whatever publicity they could, in the wake of the terrorist strikes in Mumbai, to read Professor Bernard Crick’s mini-classic In Defence of Politics, or, for that matter, any serious work that bears on the subject. The anchors who invited them were of the same class. The people, exasperated at the lapses of the state, understandably responded to the shrill, sweeping denunciation of politicians and politics. They could not be expected to recall that the loudest among the member panelists was an ardent supporter of Indira Gandhi and the dictatorship she imposed on India.

The chatterati who decry politics are rank hypocrites. They themselves practise politics all the time – in Bar associations, sports bodies, women’s organisations, and wherever their own interests are at stake, in their offices and outside. In this, they will freely take the help of politicians, of course. Totally absent is the slightest effort to understand what politics is about; how and why it is debased; its relationship to the quality of politicians and to the temper of the people; the claims that can legitimately be made on those who practise the craft; and, not least, the limits of political action and the constraints of morality in the political process. In short, a serious, informed discourse.

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