Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In Defence of Politicians

Politicians are probably the most hated set of people. We condemn them for their cynical attitude, poor leadership qualities, hypocrisy, spinelessness, putting self interest before that of people, betrayal of national interest, hunger for power, corruption, poor foresight, and all that.

My issue is that if they are so bad indeed, why do they exist? Why have they not been done away with? Are they like friction - necessary evil? If so what is their necessity in the society? Why do we need politicians to rule over people? Here is an attempt to explore what good they contribute to the society.

Politicians exist in an area where the inellectuals, professionals, entrepreneurs do not want to tread. This can be seen from the fact that very few people from these areas have really made it to the political theatre. Why is that they refuse to get into this area even though they have been successful in what they have been doing. Maybe there are couple of reasons for this. Managing people and lack of control.

Managing or rather leading people is an onerous task. People can have different views, different opinions, different needs, different segments of people have varied set of priorities, difference on ideologies, differences on priorities, different expectations of the government which rules them. No one decision suits everyone. Any decision leads to someone losing something while someone else gains something. Please one section and there is another which feels cheated.

In business or professional life, there is a fair level of control coming from ones sphere of influence - knowledge, technical expertise, business acumen. But in a political arena, there is much which is not in ones control. Yet there is accountability.

At the end of it there is this fear or discomfort with losing. No professional or businessman is used to losing his/her job, seeing things going bad. But politicians run a serious risk of losing their job every some years through the elections. They have to go back to the people and beg to bring them back to power. Can we imagine, for a change, a CEO going to the employees to elect him for one more term and accept loss of vote of the employees? It is a different ball game to go to people and plead for their vote with there being a clear possibility of a loss.

They may have become hard skinned to take flak from a section of people who are upset with the decisions they take - remember that there is no decision which win-win-win. Promote policy of encouraging production of ethanol from soya and then we have the section which cries foul on the ground that the food is going to become costlier as agriculturist will grow corn rather than foodgrains. But still they keep going with such decisions. Maybe they take the safest route, nevertheless the fact is that they keep going despite drawing the flak of a siginifact section which is unhappy with their decisions.

A businessman can make a product and maybe some customers will choose not to buy the product but they can still go on selling to the other sections which accepts their product. Here it is ok if you do not like my product. They do not have to stand in front of the segment which is unhappy with the product and justify why they made the product they way they did. They do not have to assuage the feelings of the section which has ignored the product. But a politician is answerable (theoretically) and questionable (practically) by every section.

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