Ram-Prasad is right to point out the Indian middle-class apathy towards politics and the poor. But what about the politicians?by Dhiraj Nayyar / October 27, 2007 / Leave a comment
Published in October 2007 issue of Prospect Magazine
Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad’s insightful piece flags two major failings of the Indian middle class—apathy towards politics, and towards the poor. I wish to add an analysis of India’s political class, which plays a critical role in promoting these twin apathies.
Politicians in India are not known for setting the bar high when it comes to competence. However, the farcical election for the Indian presidential election this July provides an ideal example of all that is wrong with the political class. India’s president is elected by an electoral college of federal and provincial legislators. The ruling alliance, led by the Indian National Congress, was unable to decide on its nominee, and the sparring spilled out into the public domain. The communist parties, on whose support the ruling alliance depends, rejected the first and second choices of Congress because of their apparent “Hindu spiritual” leanings. Ultimately, the left parties endorsed Congress’s third nominee, Pratibha Patil, who had a shady past, unknown to Congress, involving alleged financial irregularities and support for the Indian government’s programme of forced sterilisation in the 1970s. Her only qualification was a slavish loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family of the Congress party.