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Polemics of politics

Polemics of politics
Highlights

There is a popular adage: A politician says ‘yes’ when he really means ‘no’, while a diplomat says ‘yes’ when he always means ‘no’. A diplomat tries to save his skin, while a politician tries to save his vote bank. Importantly, both do not represent or reflect public opinion. This may sound slightly cynical, but are they not what they are? Because one (diplomat) is paid to do his job while the other (politician) is paying to become what he is. Is he not investing crores to become one?

There is a popular adage: A politician says ‘yes’ when he really means ‘no’, while a diplomat says ‘yes’ when he always means ‘no’. A diplomat tries to save his skin, while a politician tries to save his vote bank. Importantly, both do not represent or reflect public opinion. This may sound slightly cynical, but are they not what they are? Because one (diplomat) is paid to do his job while the other (politician) is paying to become what he is. Is he not investing crores to become one?

People should muster all the sense of humour in today’s world because we cannot dispense with the inevitable institution called ‘democracy’, when bigots, rapists, goondas, Mafiosi, supremacists gatecrash into our august Houses through ballot boxes. Thanks to the Internet and twitter, we interact with several people having different ideas day in and day out. I received an email the other day from some corner of the globe which is worth noticing.

Adlai Stevenson, US Senator of Illinois during 1970-1981, who eventually became Vice President and was known for his sense of humour said: “I offered opponents a deal. If they stop telling lies about me, I will stop telling the truth about them’’. French General and politician Charles de Gaulle has said that “Politics is too serious a matter to be left to politicians.’’ His name should ring a bell to the readers for that wonderful movie “A Day of the Jackal’’ about the assassination attempt on the French President in which the brilliant British actor Edward Fox acted the role of ‘Jackal’. Fox did General Dyer’s role in Attenborough’s “Gandhi’’. I saw a brilliant play of Edward Fox at West End (London) featuring the role of one-time British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan about a sex scandal which led to the leader resigning his post. It was called “The Letter of Resignation’’.
Doug Larson, English Middle-distance runner of 1924 Olympics at Paris, said “Instead of giving the politician the keys of the city, it might be better to change the locks’’. Who can forget the famous quote of that Greek slave and fables’ author Aesop who made an audacious statement when he said “We hang petty thieves and appoint bigger thieves to the public office’’.
One leader stands tall from behind the iron curtain of the 1950s, rather the first communist leader with a great sense of humour, who said “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even when there is no river’’. It was John Quinton, the American actor and writer, who said that “politicians are people; when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel’’.
Here is a rather cruel statement by an anonymous writer, who might have made it in utter disgust when he said:
What happens if a politician drowns in a river?
That is pollution.
What happens if all of them drown?
That is a solution.
For several generations till my childhood, politicians were revered for sacrifice, impeccable moral stature and, most importantly, for their social commitment. Who can forget the tallest leaders like Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu, Tenneti Viswanadham, Bhogaraju Pattabhi Seetharamayya and another leader of recent origin Vavilala Gopalakrishniah?
I had the privilege of sharing the stage with him at Andhra University years back. Attired in homespun coarse Khaddar clothes he always used to carry with him a small satchel with just another change of clothes. He was a member of the state legislature! (MLAs today carry with them a long entourage and even a rifle.)After the meeting, the organizers asked him where he would like to be taken. He asked them to drop him at the nearest bus stand! A true Gandhian, he was known for frugal and spartan life with uncompromising moral stature. He was decorated with Padma Bhushan by the Indian Government in 1992.
This is a story I heard from a small revenue official I knew, who is no more. He was working at Srikakulam and a batch of clerks was invited for a refresher course at Hyderabad. Their allowances were not sanctioned even after a week and they were suffering with the small amounts they could muster. They all came to the Secretariat to pour out their plight, but could not get an audience with any official. They were sitting in the lawns of the Secretariat nonplussed when they saw Vavilala Gopalakrishniah walking into the premises. One member suggested “Why not take his help?’’ They ran to him and narrated their plight. It was almost six in the evening. He asked one among the group to follow him. He walked into the room of the Chief Secretary Mr I J Naidu.
Seeing him the Chief Secretary stood up. Vavilala used to talk to all of them on the first name basis. The respect he used to enjoy in those circles was legendary. Introducing this clerk, he chided the Chief Secretary: “Naidu, how can these poor small clerks survive in Hyderabad when they were not even given the allowances due to them?’’ Naidu was embarrassed and immediately called in the Revenue secretary. Both of them, along with a few other officials, sat together into the long hours of the night and the money was delivered to them forthwith! They were the rare breed of politicians. It will be a fitting finale to this muse to remember what that famous ancient Greek philosopher Plato said of the latest breed. I quote: “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.’’ Prophetic and true, perhaps.
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