reprints of articles published in magazines

Sunday, 12 April 2009

election special

The Election is round the corner and we need to choose the right leaders to represent us. After all we live in one of the largest democracies of the world. And in a democracy, we get to choose the person that we would like to represent us.
What kind of person would you like to represent yourself? Somebody with your kind of attitude, intelligence, ideas and dreams or someone who is very different from you? Of course, most of us, would like to choose representatives who are intelligent, culturally rooted, fearless, well-mannered and trustworthy.
But how can we test the candidates and find out if they have such qualities? Well, psychiatry has devised some real smart tests to find out if your candidate is good enough to be elected. Let’s just apply these tests for fun and check out our candidates:
The most important aspect of intelligence is the ability to think in an abstract manner. Abstraction is the ability to conceptualize things that have no form and to find deeper meanings in things. In some classic intelligence tests, the testee is asked to tell the similarity between an orange and an apple, a pen and a pencil, a table and a chair, a poem and a painting, a seed and a man, etc.
Immature individuals with less intelligence usually say the differences, such as “The orange is yellow, the apple is red. You need to remove the skin of the orange, whereas you are eat an apple with its skin.” Or “you sit on a chair, but you don’t sit on a table.” In all such cases, the testee is only able to tell the ways in which the two items are different.
Individuals with slightly higher levels of intelligence talk about the functions of the objects. Or their merits and demerits. For example, “A table is to write on and a chair is to sit on. The poem is written, but the painting is drawn. The seed is small, man is big, man eats the seed” are the usual explanations given.
It is only those individuals with high intelligence who immediately notice the similarity. They promptly say, “An orange and apple, they are both fruits. A pen and pencil are both stationery items. Table and chair are furniture, poem and painting are both works of art. A seed and man are both living things”
So you see folks, it is only the intelligent mind that can make abstractions and see the ultimate similarity among two dissimilar items. It is only an intelligent politician who will say, “Hindu and Muslim, they are both humans”, whereas a dumb politician would probably cite differences instead of similarities.
So check out your politician, if s/he says “Every life has equal value, irrespective of its caste, creed, colour, gender or affiliation,” then you can immediately know that s/he is intelligent enough to be your representative. But if your politician is dumb or reckless and says crazy things like, “If somebody lifts a hand against Hindus, or thinks they are weak, there is nobody behind them, then I swear on the Bhagavad Gita that I will cut off that hand". Or "All the Hindus stay on this side and send the others to Pakistan”, then we know the guy is not even leader material, whose ever great grandson, grandson or son he is.

Several eons ago, what now is called India, was actually a part of Africa. The land mass broke away and drifted up the oceans. It docked itself below another landmass called Asia; the sea in between the two land masses cooled, rose high and froze into mountains. Today we call these mountains the Himalayas. From the top of the mountain, the ice melts and forms the Ganga, considered to be a holy river. But underneath, the Himalayas contains the bones and shells of all those sea animals that got trapped in the mountain ranges.
What we consider as one country today, was actually part of another country before. For example in Asoka’s time, Kalinga was not part of Magadha. He had to wage a war to annex that territory. But both these kingdoms are today part of another bigger sovereign state called India.
Before 1947 people living in Lahore, considered themselves to be Indian. But after 1947, their nationality and identity changed. They were no longer Indian. A new country had emerged. It was called Pakisthan. And so the people in Lahore, had to change their nationality to Pakistani. But they were the same people, living in the same area. Just their label had changed. Nothing else.
Let’s also consider this. Until about 6th century AD, most Indians were either practising Jainism or Buddhism. Vedic religions were not popular then. But after the 7th and 8th century the same people who practised Buddhism and Jainism gradually converted to newer religions such as Saivism and Vainavism. These same people after a few centuries, converted to Islam due to the invasion of the Mughals in the north and the Arab traders in the south. Some others converted to Christianity after the influence of the British, and Portuguese invaders. Under all these various religious labels, the people have always been the same. Just their faith changed. That’s all.
We do not know what the future has in hold for us. New labels get created all the time, in the name of region, religion, language, creed, community and what not. But underneath all these different labels, all humans are the same. We all came from the same ancestor; we all are of the same blood.
If your politician is aware of this rich Indian heritage, and understands that different faiths can peacefully co-exist here, then he is fit to be your leader. If he is some half baked upstart who talks about “Maharashtra is only for Maharashtrians, all your people from other parts of India, get out of this city,” then you know he is not the right candidate for you.
A true leader must be able to face conflicts and handle difficult situations deftly. S/he must be able to negotiate peace and patch up fragments. S/he must be able to take critical situations in her/his stride and move on with the business of running the government smoothly and efficiently.
There may be a tsunami, an earthquake, or a major difference of opinion among the population, some may support one line of thought and other may oppose it, there may be tension and stress. But a true leader must be able to go to the battle field and face the circumstances bravely. If your candidate is known to take such courageous steps, then s/he is the one for you. But if the said candidate is someone who pretends to fall ill and gets admitted in some hospital for some fictitious illness that needs no treatment, yet undergoes some major “complicated, life threatening surgery” when severe conflicts rage in his territory, then you know, your candidate is not even brave enough to face challenges. S/he is probably not even fit to represent you. Her/his health is so precarious that you ought to find a healthier representative to do the difficult job of leading the nation.
Governance is very serious business. It involves a lot of media attention. Not to mention the money, the strings of power and the infinite possibilities to better the quality of life of the hapless voters. Any individual involved in such an important business must have some morality, ethics and basic manners.
Check out your candidate and find out if s/he has adequate integrity? Any immoral acts? Dishonesty in personal or public life? Promiscuity? Criminal record? Does the person tend to lie through his/her teeth and cover up deficiencies with sweet talk and oodles of charm?
How does the candidate talk about his opponents? Does s/he treat them with due respect, dignity and courtesy or does s/he treat him/her with disdain, contempt and mockery?
Gentle banter and leg pulling in the name of good clean humour is all okay. But does your candidate get down to mudslinging and behave petty? Does your candidate offer praise where it is due and tone down criticism even when it is deserved? Does your candidate know to play the game in the spirit of the game, or does s/he behave like a spoilt brat who cannot take no for an answer.
If your candidate is morally upright, ethically sound and well mannered, then s/he is the right choice to represent you. But if the candidate has serious flaws then you might have to reject his candidature. No point in having someone so worthless represent you, is there?
When difficult circumstances arise, then would your candidate stand for the truth, come what may? Is his/her integrity beyond all doubt? Does s/he keep up her/his words? Is s/he known to be nepotistic? Does this person curry favours for his/her own kith and kin and makes sure that his/her family gets all the benefits of powerdom?
Even Fidel Castro, the famous communist leader of Cuba, did not want to let power slip into the hands of nonfamily. When Fidel was sick and bedridden, he quickly transferred all his Presidenthood to his brother Raul Castro. Not to an able outsider. Not to any other efficient comrade who had fought grave battles for him. When it came to power, even the popular communist hero, who was against all private ownership decided to hand over charges only to his own blood brother.
Even in our own country, we find blatant exhibits of nepotism - most politicians field their own children into fresh elections. If their children are not of contestable age, then they settle for their submissive wives. If there is no wife, then the politician would typically settle for some dumb, subservient wife-like man to play puppet. All that matters to them is, by some means to hold on to the power within their reach.
If your candidate is so selfish and nepotistic, then how well would s/he serve you as a leader? So do consider the nepotism ratio before you decide to cast your vote for your candidate.
Well, people, these are some of the fun tests that you can apply to check out the votability of your favourite candidates. If you find someone who fits the bill at least by the long shot, then go ahead and make him your representative. If you think there is no one good enough to represent you, then mention that to the polling officer. This election gives you the liberty not to vote too! Thank the EC for small mercies!


அழகு செல்வன்,S.P said...

//If you think there is no one good enough to represent you, then mention that to the polling officer. This election gives you the liberty not to vote too! Thank the EC for small mercies!//.

Hmmm.,It will be more laudable if you have said something more clearly about 49(0), in addition to the above sentences. Still loads of people are unaware of that!

அழகு செல்வன்,S.P said...


kayal said...

an eye opener..esp the 49 0 of Indian constitution .

mak said...

Hello doc it was nice & informative to go through your election special...but are you kidding. To find a leader with all the qualities mentioned by you. I know you cannot say "USE 49(O)".So it was a smart way of putting it around to your readers...

Anyway it was really informative.

dondu(#11168674346665545885) said...

டாக்டர் ஷாலினி,

நேற்று மாலை நீங்கள் கிழக்கு பதிப்பகம் மாடியில் மட்டுறுத்திய குழந்தைகள் மேல் பாலியல் வன்முறை கலந்துரையாடலின் நேர்முக வர்ணனை மாதிரி நான் பதிவிட்டுள்ளேன். தயவு செய்து பார்க்கவும்.

டோண்டு ராகவன் vadivukkarasi said...

that was a good one. u have placed us in one another difficult situation of testing the available ones. though i consider it positively. u ve given a clean guidance of how a leader should be which would be useful for to be leaders.