The term politics is unarguably the most familiar one among the people of the land, irrespective of the tongues they speak or level of literacy or economic status or years of schooling. Also, the term totally decimates the urban-rural divide, given the deep interest the rustics are currently showing in informal politics, meaning: forming alliances, exercising power and pursuing goals (which don’t need to be expressed explicitly). The term business comes close in the matter of familiarity and spread across the entire cross-section of the country’s populace. The dramatic events witnessed in the State during the days and weeks since the results of the election of its 15th Legislative Assembly were announced, witnessing the morphing of foes into forming a coalition prompted remarks raising the point of ethics in politics, the twin terms serving as a classical example of the figure of speech oxymoron, a combination of incongruous elements. In an unfair act of citing the expression business ethics as a similar example, one may have to remind grammarians that business being an activity of making money for one’s living, the means often justify the end. Not making money amounts to not doing business. It is as simple as that.
Reports appearing in dailies nowadays on acts of moral policing by some outfits have raised public debates on morality, the body of principles derived from accepted codes of conduct based on a particular philosophy. Adherence to ethics, as an important ingredient of morality has been stressed by mentors in society for long. Saying that both ethics and morality have suffered a very hard hit being bestowed negligible premium in contemporary society is to say the obvious.
While the electorate of Karnataka exercised their franchise leading to a hung Legislative Assembly, the honchos of two political parties contrived to outsmart a third political party earning in many circles the ill repute of making an unethical move even as the people read reports of all that happened subsequently, some amused and the rest annoyed. The hapless and helpless electorate has no option but to wait for five years before getting another chance to do the right thing and more importantly, doing it rightly, that is, elect one political party to form the government in the State. The unethical ways of the elected representatives may repeat, the only difference being that the act features different players.
A seasoned columnist and political commentator has rightly observed that all talk of values, morals and ethics applies only in times of abundance. His recent column under the caption “Lesson No. 1 from Karnataka: There is no ethics in politics, stupid” avers that in times of crisis, ethics go out of the window. In sum, “ethics in politics” is unmistakably a case of oxymoron but not necessarily “business ethics.”