Editorial

Caste Chemistry

August 28, 2019

Democracy in the country, touted as the largest in the world, appears to be oscillating from order that was in the initial years to disorder after seven-plus decades, going by the media portrayal of the people’s representatives elected to various Legislative bodies in successive polls. The renowned academician, a two-time ambassador of the United States of America to India during 1950s, Prof. John Kenneth Galbraith has been quoted saying India’s Democracy is a functioning anarchy. One cannot be faulted to place more emphasis on the second term of the diplomat’s expression (anarchy), although the set-up appears to be functioning, thanks to the presence of some able elected representatives in the Government at the top, marked by the recently happening sequence in which persons with proven calibre are departing. Not sending representatives to any of the Legislative bodies with the necessary credentials to first debate on issues as befits Democracy cannot be blamed on the electorate at large for the simple reason of persons of straw are the choice of the political parties to contest in the polls.

The think tank that authored the land’s Constitution may very well have missed envisioning the shape of things in later years with respect to precisely spelling out the credentials of those aspiring to represent people, except prescribing minimum age and to be of sound mind. Expecting the present crop of vote-mongers to right that wrong amounts to asking for the moon.

Parameters that count first in the choice of candidates don’t need to be mentioned explicitly. Two such parameters, namely the dynasty factor and the caste factor run through the fabric of Government-making. After the initial step of winning at the hustings as a horse belonging to the party with majority in the respective house of Legislature, the next step is to be gifted with a berth in the Cabinet. The game of politics picks up there on as vigorous lobbying begins for plum portfolio, only to get busy clamouring for office space, ostensibly complying with vastu. As in the ongoing case of Karnataka Cabinet of Ministers, the fourth step is to again lobby for living quarters as status symbol.

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To cut a long story short, the much-avowed federal style of governing the country is virtually killed as all decisions, legitimately within the grasp of the regional leader, the Chief Minister, are to comply with the bosses in the nation’s capital, fascinatingly called High Command. Going by media comments, the decisions are conditioned by caste identity of the Ministers. The Chief Minister’s tight rope walk is appropriately called social chemistry. Chemists may be gratified at the birth of a new branch of study in their field.

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