Fortnightly E-zine
International Forum for Neovedantins

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Politics, Corruption, and the System

The ambition to rise on the ladder of power is one kind of selfishness. A politician starts his journey with the dissatisfaction about the economic and social condition of the masses, in particular the poor and the deprived section. He or she works for the social justice for all; he fights for the availability of clean water, sanitation, education, better pay-scale etc. Thus, the driving force for a politician is more often than not noble to begin with. To that extent he gets recognition as well as privileges.

The next stage of his ascendancy in 'doing good to the society' is to find a place in the ruling government. Through election or by way of nomination now he becomes a part of the power of the state. He starts thinking of his province and nation as the field for his action; and at times, even aspires for international recognition and reach. The associated power and privileges give him tremendous scope for acting and interacting with people, and maneuvering the social conditions. He thinks he can change the world with his peculiar power.

However, instead, the faceless state apparatus, which has no consideration for the poor and the needy, overpowers him. As an individual he still may claim to be the champion of the welfare of the masses, but the reality is different. The system does not allow him to function the way he wants. As a part of hierarchy and many tiered state apparatus, he is no more than a mechanical executive. He finds his dreams of improving social milieu shattered, not because he does not have desire to do so, or not that he does not have enthusiasm to work for such improvement, but because he finds himself helpless to do so.

The reason, which is not so easy to see, is the faulty economic foundation on which the society is based, be it feudal or capitalist. Its inner dynamism forces every politician to conform to and accept the exploitation inherent in it. Or else, if the politician does not like it, he is forced to get out of the way! However, having tasted the sweet fruits of power and privileges, now it becomes difficult for the politician to give them up. Compromised formulas are reached, a phase of surrender to the system starts. Justifications are given: 'oh, what can I do? The people do not want reforms, they are fools and useless, and do not understand the need of this and that. Opposition parties come in our way.' And so on.

Lack of boldness to denounce the falsehood, and to give up power and position for the sake of honesty ands truth, creates such weak politicians as we see all over the globe today. In the name of nation and patriotism, in the name of social justice and economic reforms, they somehow want to cling to their chairs of power and privileges. And the fear of losing the position prompts them to add extra cushion of security! This is achieved by way of amassing huge money as a symbol and value of power. They try to purchase and maintain their hold by the authority of glitter of gold.

And as the saying goes, 'as is the king so are his ministers and followers.' From top to bottom, everyone seems to engage in this rat race, relishing the otherwise rotten fruits of such wrong endeavors. But who will caution them? "When I am involved in malpractice, I do not mind yours!" The cycle continues, a never-ending game of musical chair! Right from top to bottom corruption spreads its firm and ruthless tentacles, suffocating the society. The system of corruption has become more powerful than the politicians. Terror, robbery, assault, crimes on women, and all that is associated with such Mafia Raj are the outward expression of corruption. The art and the science, wisdom and the virtues suffer and survive silently in far off corners in a few cities and homes.

What then is the solution? According to me, no clear and lasting solution can ever be found for this malady. Albeit, cyclical attempts to revive ethics and moral life would continue. From time to time, people of integrity and regard for values will be born; through the print and other media they would awaken the masses, but the system would put a limit to their efforts. Sooner or later their voice would be drowned in the deep waters of faulty understanding of nature or the world and human relationship.

The world is based on dualism of desirable and undesirable, of good and bad, of spirit and matter; therefore, the duality of honesty and dishonesty, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, comfort and misery would remain. The only solution is individual and idealistic: If you do not want death, you must give up life also; if you want to conquer misery, you will have to give up comfort also. Going beyond both good and bad, pain and pleasure; i. e. transcendental realization of unity beyond the pairs of opposites, that is the only solution. Any takers?
c s shah

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