India Uncut

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Is age the problem?

Devangshu Datta bemoans the senile politicians who lead us:
It’s an absurdity of the political system that there is no mandatory retirement age. Be it government officers or executives in private employment, people are pensioned off between ages 58 and 65. This means that, even with generous extensions of service, men and women of obvious competence are sent off figurative sanyas if they were born before 1945. It is a great, great, pity that this rule is not automatically applied to politics.

The world, and not just India or Pakistan, would be a far better place if there was a cut-off date for standing for political office just as there is a cut-off age for every other form of paid employment. Since there isn’t, we are condemned to eternally debate the Qaid-E-Azam’s secularism or lack of it.
I'm actually not sure if age is the problem here. The problem lies in the electorate of our country, which, largely poor and uneducated, continues to make the wrong choices. This will take decades to change. And if you did have mandatory retirement, the current president of the BJP might have been Narendra Modi instead of LK Advani. And Manmohan Singh would not have been prime minister today. Imagine the alternatives.

In other words, the problem isn't that our leading politicians are too old. The problem is that we pick the wrong guys.

Nevertheless, Datta's article is insightful for the central point it makes, that Advani's generation, having lived through turbulent times, was incapable of rising above "reflexive hatred" for our subcontinental neighbours. Read the full piece.
amit varma, 2:46 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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