India Uncut

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Monday, February 07, 2005

Young society, old state

In a fine piece in the Indian Express, Sagarika Ghose points out that although most of India – more than 70 percent – is under the age of 35, our politics is still run by old people. She describes it as "[t]wo parallel worlds: Indian society dancing on the buoyant shoulders of the young, and the Indian state, still dependent on the old."

Ah, you ask, but what about the slew of young politicians who entered the Lok Sabha after the last elections? Ghosh writes:
[A] year later, none of those young MPs have either distinguished themselves as charismatic or powerful leaders of people or as heartful orators. They have not been able to announce original ideas. Nor have they been able (or allowed) to significantly challenge geriatric party leaderships by sheer force of personality and achievement. They haven’t been allowed to succeed precisely by the same politics to which they owe their existence: namely the politics of family. Family has brought them political success, but paradoxically family has trapped them in political stagnation.

For fear perhaps that he may be accused of doing too much too soon, Rahul Gandhi has not even spoken once in Parliament. He’s content only to make the low profile monthly visit to Amethi and occasionally voice some squeaky protests against Mulayam Singh Yadav. The articulate [Sachin] Pilot and [Milind] Deora are both lively television presences but are nowhere near the decision-making structures of the Congress. None of the young MPs, not even the two-time winner and finance professional [Jyotiraditya] Scindia, are anywhere close to the Council of Ministers, not one is even a Minister of State, nor have they been given any important organisational posts. Manvendra Singh is only one of the spokespersons of the BJP and that too not even its most visible. In fact in this cabinet, the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sport is the 75-year-old Sunil Dutt. List the ages of the defence minister (70), home minister (70), external affairs minister (74) and HRD minister (75) and you’ll realise that there are no Narain Karthikeyans and Sania Mirzas in the Union cabinet.

For young politicians without the kind of family background the people named above have, says Ghosh, there is a glass ceiling that prevents them from rising too far in politics. Until they grow old, that is.
amit varma, 5:22 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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