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The changing face of society: Ambition and ego seem to increase with age!
What is the very basic requirement of an individual in India? It is security in terms of food, clothing housing and healthcare. Only the people below the poverty line are said to harbour this basic insecurity. However, the number of people below the poverty line has been decreasing over time.

In earlier times, people were content if their basic requirements were met.  The towns/villages were by and large self-sufficient and administrative structure was lean. The individuals, by and large, did not see a large role for themselves in their own locality or beyond and leadership and administration was the preserve of a select elite group. 

With rapid expansion in education, transport, communication, presence of better organized and expanding machinery of administration and, finally, globalization bringing better career opportunities, people began to see a larger role for themselves in jobs and services including administration in their own locality and outside. In such a situation the importance of 'self' starts to become prominent in the scheme of things, the rat race for success accentuates. This inflation of ego, if unbridled, can work even against collective welfare. It is prudent to remain watchful. 

The notion of democracy has also encouraged the belief that every individual is absolutely equal in all respects. It has now become so pronounced that every privilege becomes a matter of right and not for negotiation or to be earned. The same logic applies when a group takes up an issue of narrow group-only interest. Every sectarian movement thus becomes legitimate and democracy turns into 'mobocracy'.

That is why more and more regional issues are coming to the fore. In India, a non-partisan finance commission, appointed every five years, calculates the formula that decides which state gets how much money. This year, the government advised the commission to use the 2011 census instead of the 1971 one. Southern states are worried that this will significantly reduce the share of revenue received by them, the very states that have worked the hardest to empower women and control their populations and for which they are considerably richer. 

People everywhere are voicing very local issues – eg in Tamil Nadu, the Central government's inabilityto urgently implement a recent Supreme Court order dealing with water-sharing between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka; in Karnataka, where the incumbent chief minister has sought to turn coming elections into a referendum on sub-national pride. That is why, Gujjars, Jats and other castes are agitating for special category rights; and, in the absence of group muscle, Bengali Hindus are being discriminated against in Assam. There is now clamour for religious minority status. 

Earlier there was retirement (vanaprastha) followed by renunciation (sanyas).  Now retirement is only a break for a retiree to get more invigorated for pushing for a newer and better job. Power politics is another tool that is now understood by all. Every individual now wants to wield power and, in politics, the idea of retirement has completely disappeared. Ambition and ego seem to increase with age; how else can you explain the likes of Arun Shourie, Jaswant Sinha, Deve Gowda and Shatrughan Sinha? 

(The writer is a commentator and an author.)

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 In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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