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The Quest for the Royal Road: As the Ruler, So the Ruled

Published: 13.02.2016

A question often arises in my mind: Should there not be a definite criterion of qualifications fixed for political leaders? It is necessary for those who wish to enter the medical profession to pass the definite examination. Certain qualifications are also required for becoming an engineer or a professor. Some qualifications are required even for the most modest posts of clerks. But the tragedy is that there are no fixed qualifications needed for those who wish to enter politics. Nor are any qualifications considered necessary for them. Sometimes it appears that those who are found unqualified for all other fields are probably the most qualified for entering politics.

I had read a satire somewhere:

Once the teachers of a school asked their students, What would you like to be in life?" One student said "I would like to do my M.Sc., because I want to be a scientist." Another student said, "I would like to study engineering because I want to become a competent engineer." That way, all students mentioned their own favourite fields. Then the teacher addressed himself to the student who was the most mischievous and most impertinent. That student said, "Sir! I cannot apply my mind to my studies at all. You know very well that this is my third year in the same class. Under these circumstances, it is impossible that I would make any headway in studies. Without studying, I cannot become a scientist, a doctor or an engineer. Yes, I can certainly become a national leader, because, for becoming a leader, no testimonial or certificate of qualifications is necessary. Moreover, all the qualifications a political leader needs, I am having from my childhood, as you see. Whenever some trouble is to be created or a strike call is to be given, or slogans have to be raised in one's own support, I have always been in the forefront. That is why my aim in life is to become a political leader."

Who is a True Leader?

This is not only a satire on today's political character. It is also the bitter truth about it. You would find such political leaders holding the veins of the country who can even sign their names with difficulty. In this field, no educational qualifications are needed, nor any intellectual or physical qualifications either. All that is needed is the ability to manipulate or the certificate of the caste or the community. That is exactly why, even after independence, the poison of casteism, communalism, linguism and provincialism is spreading more and more in the veins of the nation. This is so, because only on those considerations, the candidates for our Parliament and the State Assemblies are selected, votes are attracted only by exciting those feelings and only on that basis the representation is given in the cabinet of ministers. How then can we expect that casteism, language and communalism would not thrive in the country? Would it not be a false hope?

When I talk about fixing qualifications for political ' leaders, it is not about academic degrees or other external criteria. It is about inner character. It is extremely important to evaluate the inner character of the person who gets elected to our Parliament. If his personal life is pure and without blemish, free from addictions, unavaricious and he is not the type of use public money for himself, his family and his relatives and for whom national interest is more important than the party interest and for whom the nation alone is of supreme importance, he is a true leader, who can lead the country towards progress in every field. This is possible only when his own character is noble, his outlook is liberal and his thinking is directed towards the wider interests of the nation.

It may be asked if such a thing is possible in the present environment. I do not think there should be any difficulty about it. Even if there are difficulties, we should get over them because this is an unavoidable need of the nation. But this can happen only when the political parties and the public give their co-operation. The political parties should select their candidates by rising above considerations of caste or community and on the basis of good character, internal and external. The aim of those candidates, should be not winning the election by hook or by crook but to provide healthy and clean leadership to the country.

As the Ruler, So the Ruled

Such an outlook makes the people much more responsible. What type of people would get elected would depend on the decision of the people. Today the adage 'as the ruler, so the ruled' is no longer as meaningful as it was under the autocratic political system. Today, the affairs of the state have to be looked after by the representatives of the people and who those representatives should be, is also decided by the people. Hence, it should be said that the ruler would be as the people are and so would be the leaders. If people elect wrong and corrupt people to the Parliament, it is futile to hope for a clean administration. In that case, cursing the leaders does not carry much meaning. Hence, it is necessary to enlighten the people with this regard.

How can the people, who sell their sons for the sake of a few silver coins, who lose their sense of discretion to distinguish between right and wrong candidates for a few bottles of liquor, send their right representatives to the Parliament? The very basis of democracy is the votes of the people. If those votes become sullied by corruption, the administration is bound to become corrupt. Corruption in elections is at the root of the corruption that is thriving in politics. Hence it is necessary to pay attention to clean and fair elections. Its full responsibility lies with the people. The political parties may try to attract the voters by any unfair means, if the people of the country do not become a party to it, corruption would not be able to spread. It would stop just where it exists. Corruption spreads only by the co-operation of the people.

Nation Secondary, Self-interest Primary

Leaving out the good candidates and electing wrong and corrupt people is mainly because of selfish interest of the persons. They think that if good candidates get elected, they would not be able to get their quotas by unfair means, their wrong actions would not be covered up, their caste or community would not be able to make any headway. Because of countless selfish motives of this nature, good candidates are being sidelined. It is necessary to think seriously about this state of the country which is moving fast towards disintegration. In today's situation, caste is of the highest importance and the nation is secondary. Community is most important, the nation is ignored. Language and province are the chief considerations, the nation is treated with indifference. As a result the nation is weakening day-by-day and the forces of casteism, communalism, language, etc., are becoming increasingly stronger. Time was when the individual hesitated to associate with any wrong activity in the name of religion. Today, under the impact of the West, religious values have almost lost their ground. We have not been able to establish national values. Since both religion and the nation have ceased to be centres of faith, individual selfish interests have gained the prime importance. The problems of caste, religion, community and language are becoming grave. We are hearing the voices about discrimination between the North and the South. Why do these things happen? Only because the emotional unity of the country is breaking down.

Clean National Character

The only solution of all these problems is that the national character should be clean. From that point of view, I would particularly like to draw public attention to certain matters. If voting is clean and healthy, democracy too would be clean and healthy to the same extent. For clean voting, it is important that voters do not cast their votes by being lured with money and other temptations. They should vote not out of considerations of caste or community, but on the basis of merits of the candidate. They should oppose the use of liquor and other intoxicants at the election times, keep away from obscene propaganda and false allegations and not try to create disturbance or riotous situation anywhere. It is important for the candidates not to try winning the election by using unfair means, not to encourage changing of parties, not to murder moral values for the sake of power and should remain always active to promote emotional unity of the nation. The political parties should certainly decide specific criterion for the selection of their candidates. In selecting the candidates, they should give priority to persons who are qualified and have good character.

Many years ago, I had presented an electoral code of conduct to the leaders of all political pax-ties during the anuvrat campaign. I was happy that all parties unanimously accepted its significance. But I have no hesitation in saying that inspite of accepting its importance, no one bothered to follow it during their election campaigns. It seems to me that now that suggestion is before the people of the country, and through it, they can show their lofty character and be helpful in making the future of India bright.


Title: The Quest for the Royal Road
Acharya Tulsi
Publisher: Adarsh Sahitya Sangh
Edition: 2013
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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anuvrat
  2. Casteism
  3. Environment
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