January 28, 2013

Please promise truth, not sops!


I am quite surprised to hear many of our potential candidates to the presidency of Maldives are promising a lot of presents they would give to the people of Maldives if elected. Among them unfortunately are not such things as truth and commitment, or reliability and inspiration, or a nation where we can stand up on our own feet on the path to independence; rather such that will make us reach out for hand-outs and continue to be dependent.

I can well understand that there must be something that leaders must promise to the masses in order to move them. In an autocracy where the condition is total patronage, the king or an authoritarian leader dispenses handouts to the subjects. But in a democracy, this is antithesis. In the case I cite here, the servants seem to be seeking to throw handouts to the bosses – the people. Such behaviour that is so pervasive in our political system stymies the very essence of the democratic ideal. Yet, we cannot blame the public for being so easily persuaded, for it is very difficult to acquire a new democratic mindset quite so soon, even though this has been legislated for. The mind just doesn’t work as fast as the pen on paper. This dissonance is no doubt so deceptively utilized by selfish politicians. Once the vote is secured and the race won, the process of winning votes for the next round seems to be already on. Prudent national governance is very difficult to move in such situations of selfish pursuit. The sops do nothing more than give a momentary thrill to the recipients, and when the novelty wears off or the money doled out all spent, what we wake up to is the fact that the real promises of building a nation for tomorrow seems hardly off the tracks. Such events give the impression of a total disconnects with the understanding of what democracy is.

Democracy is a tool that liberates us from the yoke of servitude and raises us to the heights of us being the master of ourselves. Our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is the foundation and the goal of this kind of governance. It would be in fact deceptive and even silently intimidating to offer such sops as hospitals, personal nurses, computers and the like to persuade a hapless public to relinquish their votes towards such offers. In a democracy, the vote is the only real legitimate power we have as a community to keep self-serving leaders from causing the social havoc that keep societies mired in their problems term after term.

Good leaders must promise truth, not sops. 

2 comments:

jai narain said...

Yes, the essence of democracy is to be able to caste your vote or elect a representative freely, frankly and fearlessly, without inducement or any kind of coercion. These representatives are supposed to serve the people who elected them to the position and not the other way around!

Jai (presently teaching at UCLA)

Abdul Sattar Yoosuf said...

Jai, Thanks for the further clarification -- awareness that we need to continuously impart to our democratic polity if we are to make this paradigm work. And glad to know you are at UCLA.