Saturday, January 16, 2021

Be leaders

Our people are still by and large disempowered in matters of governance. Educated, passionate young men and women who wax eloquent in criticizing the government for making a mess of things have traditionally relegated themselves to the sidelines of passivity and pacifism. In their eyes, the stereotype of a typical, traditional “politician” in Nagaland is that of a venal, virile, mostly unintelligent opportunist who, free from the compulsions of ideology, is wedded to his self-seeking lust for power. And the stereotype, unfortunately, is pretty accurate. Long story short – the emancipated, passionate and sincere lot stays away from mainstream politics – especially in contesting elections or being part of active politics. The political sentiment isn’t the only factor at play here. The older, educated Nagas, especially the city folk, have turned into an excessively cynical mass of pontificators who look at elections as high treason and consider matters of governance to be irrelevant. Yet, ironically they are the most vocal among all in expressing dismay and disgust at the quality of leadership that we – directly or indirectly – continue to foist on our own heads. It has often been said, particularly in social media posts, that we don’t need leaders at this point – but evolution and introspection. In fact such statement can be more dangerous for a nation that is struggling in a precarious political situation. We need leadership – educated, clean, passionate and patriotic leaders who realize the importance, rather indispensability of constructive, progressive politics in changing what we find unacceptable in our system. There can be no doubt about that. No society or nation can afford to be leaderless. And we are no exception. So what’s the way out then? By the amount of our cribbing and complaining – status quo is certainly out of the question. We need change and we need saviors. We need leaders. But where will these leaders come from? The men and women who will dive head-on into the thankless, murky and stinking cesspool of our mainstream politics, not for their personal interests but for the interests of the people and the state? Leaders who will sacrifice the safety and prosperity of their professional careers to wade through the venal, at times thankless swamps of our mainstream politics! Where will they come from? They will certainly not fall from the sky. Will they then come from the ever-growing pool of lately-turned-moral retired bureaucrats? Clearly not! These former front line custodian of corruption, nepotism and wanton loot – will they now come and flog this state in politics after stripping it stark naked in bureaucracy? Will they deliver hope and change? Unfortunately all political parties in our state seem united in their infatuation with corrupt retired bureaucrats – God knows why! Perhaps by the measure of sycophancy! Tragically, almost all our senior political leaders are consciously or subconsciously intoxicated with sycophancy and who could be a better sycophant to bow, adore and praise a political leader than a retired bureaucrat who did exactly that a few years ago – as an officer of the State? Who could be a better prospect at towing the line of the leader without expressing an opinion to the contrary? Nobody else but a retired bureaucrat! Coming back to the earlier question, so where will our leaders come from? And yes, God bless us, we need one badly! We need idealism and passion in leadership. Pragmatism is grossly over-rated in politics and whatever “realism” a politician needs, comes after a political conquest, not before it. We need incorruptible leaders – not one, but a bunch of them – who bring competence, education, vision, humility, servitude and statesmanship to the table – not just flowery rhetoric or a fear-induced ambiguity on major political issues we are facing as a nation and as a state. Again where will they come from? They will come from amongst us – normal folk from non-political families who can’t go on complaining endlessly anymore while choosing to do absolutely nothing to change what we have a problem with. And the best and only effective way to change a society, a system, an economy – a nation – is through politics. The sort of politics that changed the world we knew of – liberated people from misery, ushered nations into prosperity and guided them out of hopelessness.