Two years before the polls, the political discourse seems to be at its nadir. The political dialogue between the parties will stoop to further low levels as politics become murkier on the election eve. The abysmally low level of public debate is anathema to democracy. India is known for its argumentative tradition. Politics need to be polemical. But, the language, the tone and tenor of such polemi
Two years before the polls, the political discourse seems to be at its nadir. The political dialogue between the parties will stoop to further low levels as politics become murkier on the election eve. The abysmally low level of public debate is anathema to democracy. India is known for its argumentative tradition. Politics need to be polemical. But, the language, the tone and tenor of such polemics is critical for argumentative democracy.
Politicians with their low levels of debate should not bring disrespect to political process as such an eventuality can lead to large sections of society getting disconnected with politics. Politicians are expected to display their skills of persuasion and readiness to be persuaded. Politics is the art of engaging with other’s opinions.
Drawing the proper contours of democratic debate, noted political scientist Neera Chandhoke observes that to speak with others is to give recognition to their equal moral status. To listen to them is to signify that they matter, and to debate with them is to understand that ideas provide solidarity to human encounters.
Vade vade jayate tattvabodhah: truth is discovered or realised through debate and discussion. However right it may be, ruthless repudiation of adversarial viewpoint is neither exploration nor enunciation of truth.
No one, however mighty one may be, is unassailable. No one is beyond question or beyond correction. In fact, scrutiny of one’s ideas and actions by others is necessary corrective.
The Indian national movement is replete with examples of how great minds differed. They agreed to disagree. Gandhi and Tagore, Gandhi and Ambedkar had serious differences in their perspectives. But, such a divergence has only strengthened political discourse of the freedom struggle.
In democracy, no one is invincible. At the altar of people’s power, anyone is vulnerable. History has consigned some of those who were strongest at their contemporary epoch to oblivion as the time passes. Feel of insuperability and insurmountability in politics or elsewhere is a reflection of hypocrisy and signifies pathology of mind.
The contemporary political discourse is increasingly corrupted, vulgarised, vandalised and brutalised, all in the name of democracy.
On the other hand, the opposition has a right to seek explanations for public actions. While doing so, opposition should also respect the legitimacy of the government, which flows from the sanctity of people’s electoral mandate. No such opposition action should derail the governance.
But, the ruling party should not ascribe to itself divine sanctity. Voices of the political opposition and the civil society should not be stifled. Genuine questions cannot be branded as political conspiracy to sabotage indefatigable developmental efforts.
The basic character of democracy is reflected in plurality of voices, choices and ideas. Critics cannot be lampooned and alternative viewpoints cannot be pooh-poohed. Unfortunately, in the current democratic epoch, the winners at the hustings feel they are blessed souls; anything contrary is often portrayed as demonic or devilish.
The wisdom that flows from the repositories of power is confused with gospel truth. Political orthodoxy makes it unquestionable and unassailable until reversed by yet another electoral mandate.
Democracy is an interaction of thoughts and assimilation of ideas. It’s a confluence of political viewpoints. It’s a convergence of ideological postulates. The people in power should display such a spirit of democratic accommodation.