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If politics is dirty, what is the alternative?
My wife says politics is dirty. She does not want to hear any discussions on politics. My sister says politics is dirty. She does not allow any discussions on politics at her parties. They are right in saying politics is dirty. Just listen to the quality of discourse by politicians.

Congress politicians keep reminding us that our PM was a "chaiwala". The PM keeps abusing the "Nehru Gandhi" dynasty. The CM of a state says that women are responsible for rape and most rapes are consensual. The latest in the un-ending list of derogatory statements and anti Muslim tirade is a state leader calling the opposition party "eunuchs". Thousands of politicians have criminal cases including rape and murder registered against them and these cases remain unresolved for decades. Political parties do not implement court orders including those issued by the Supreme Court. 

Politicians proudly claim to be patrons of mining mafias in Rajasthan who are ruining the environment, depleting ground water resources and stealing government revenues. Politicians encroach government land and do not vacate government accommodations. Their misdeeds can fill thousands of pages. Most of them are ill educated with little knowledge of economics, history, geography and governance. 

Politics is unavoidable 

Unfortunately politics is unavoidable in democracy where a political party or an alliance of political parties has to get a majority in an election to form a government and run it. It is immaterial that we can have a minister of education with dubious educational qualifications, a finance minister with no knowledge of finance or economics, a defence minister with no knowledge of defence and so on. But if we discard democracy, we may be saddled with a tyrant for our lifetime like many African countries with a corrupt president for life. 

So what should we do? 

Let me ask you some counter questions. What do we do when our house is dirty? We clean it. What do we do when our body is dirty? We take a bath and clean it. So if politics is dirty what should we do? We must clean it. 

How do we clean politics? 

It is perhaps the most difficult thing to do. But we must. Some suggestions are given below. 

Get to know the political parties 

We, the uncommitted voters who do not belong to any party must find out more about the political parties and their stated and hidden agenda. We should visit the web sites of the political parties to know their stated agenda. We must see whether what they are doing is as per their stated agenda. For example, a party may say it wants to end corruption but does not appoint Lok Pal and try to gag media to prevent them from reporting government corruption. A party may swear by our secular Constitution but supports Islamophobia. 

Get to know the candidates 

We, the uncommitted voters must find out full details of the candidates before we vote. If we vote for a candidate with a criminal record, crime will increase. If we vote for a corrupt politician, corruption will increase. If we vote for an arrogant politician, he will treat us like dirt once elected. If we elect a poorly educated politician, he will not know what to do to make our lives better. Full details of candidates are available at the web site of Election Commission. We must discuss the merits and demerits of each candidate in the family and in any forum including social media. If we do not vote for unsuitable candidates, the political parties will be forced to choose good candidates. 

Take promises of politicians with a pinch of salt 

Politicians will promise anything to win elections. Modi ji promised to bring back black money and give each family Rs 15 lakh. The reality is that each year, about $4 billion or Rs 28,000 crore of Indian wealth is flowing out of the country. Has the government been able to stop it? He promised to bring good days. Has he been able to do so? We know fairness creams will not make us fair. But we still buy fairness creams. We know that using a branded deodorant will not get us a sex partner. But still producing deodorants is a multi-billion dollar industry. The gullible will always be cheated. Promises to achieve goals in 3 to 5 years are meaningless. What a government is going to do now is what matters. Look at performance and not promises. 

Do not believe in dooms day prophesies 

Some will say that Christian charities are converting Hindus into Christians and Christians will take over India. A few beneficiaries may have converted. So what? In 200 years of British rule only about 3 percent of the Hindu population converted to Christianity. In 700 years of Muslim rule only 14 percent Hindus converted to Islam. Many of these conversions were voluntary as is in the case of singer AR Rahman. How many Hindus have converted to Christianity in the 70 years of our independence? Does it matter? Do you know or care to know how many Hindu Dalits converted to Buddhism without coercion and incentives to simply escape our cruel castes system and discrimination in society? Does it worry you? Do you know how many million dollars of foreign exchange has been lost, how many welfare projects have been aborted because the Government has banned these charities from working in India? We worry about a few religious conversions and vandalize churches. We worry about so called "Love Jihad" and act to prevent it. Do we worry about rape, acid attacks and setting women on fire? Do we clamour for speedy justice? How many rapists have been lynched?     

Learn to distinguish fake news 

Most of the news circulated on social media is fake. They are designed to sow fear and mislead people. They need to be corroborated before being taken seriously. Most of the economic and growth projection are paid news, designed to support the government's policies and Neo-liberal economic policies which benefit the rich multinationals and international investors rather than the common people. There are no dissenting articles on government bailing out the NBFC ILF&S but plenty against waiving farmer loans. Look for and study contrary views in the web and in foreign media. 

We must know what we want 

We must know what we want. In a country with limited financial resources, do we want drinking water or bullet trains and mega highways? Do we want good government schools and hospitals or we want government to pay insurance premiums and money to private schools and hospitals? Will feeding stray cows or stopping free commerce in cattle reduce our hunger? Will building temples and statues improve our living conditions and infrastructure?  Will jobs be created if we allow cheap imports from China? Will law and order improve if it is managed by vigilantes and moral police instead of the state police? Should justice be pronounced by Khap Panchayats, maulavis or priests instead of judges in a court of law? 

Conclusion 

If we believe in democracy, we must vote and elect a political party to govern us. If we want to vote, we must know who we should vote for. If we want to know who we should for vote for, we must know what the political parties and candidates stand for. If we want to know what the prominent politicians and political parties stand for, we must discuss politics and politicians even if such discussions are heated and unpleasant. We must also learn to agree to disagree, not to be abusive and respect opposing views. We must know when to change the topic. 

Please remember, in a democracy we get a government most of us voted for. If we do not vote or vote for unsuitable candidates and unsuitable parties, we have no right to complain about the government or our plight.  One of my "gurus" told me not to keep cribbing. He said you control some things and can influence decision making in some cases. We control our vote. I am trying to influence you to take decisions in your interest. Changing government every five years may not be a bad idea.  It prevents politicians and politicians from becoming arrogant and forces them to act in public interest.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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