Of Politics: Dazed & Confused

The time has come, … to talk of many things: Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax– Of cabbages–and kings– And why the sea is boiling hot– And whether pigs have wings” ( ‘Through the Looking Glass’, Lewis Carroll)

 But, with polling for Delhi state elections  2015, ending at 6pm this evening, I am drawn into talking about politics. Not about who or which political party is going to win the elections and all that blah blah which TV channels, print media, social media etc are going on and on ad nauseam.

What troubles me is the dismal state politics has degenerated into.Not just here, but globally. Where are the statesmen and visionaries of the past  ? Where are the debates? And where are the leaders who would heed Martin Luther King Jr’s words that “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right” ?

 There are no ideals .There is no loyalty.

When I was studying in school, we had a ‘house’ system that was based on a color and a historical personality, together. The house was denoted by a badge.We had four houses. Red & Rabindranth Tagore, Blue & King Ashoka, Green & Sarojini Naidu, Yellow & Chatrapti Shivaji.I am sure most schools had similar systems. I believe that such  a system was an early initiator into  making us aware about politics. We were taught to owe allegiance to our house, imbibe the characteristics of our historical leader, learn both the strengths & weaknesses of other houses, compete healthily for positions of excellence in various fields like games, debate, art, theatre,drama etc.The most coveted position was naturally the ‘All Rounder’ cup at the end of each school year. Something like winning the elections 🙂

Each one of us was allocated a ‘house’ from Grade 3 onwards till Grade 10. I had been given the ‘Blue ‘ House. Possibly, that is why I have such a strong connect to King Ashoka. He remains my favorite historical figure. What fascinated me about him was his complete re-nunciation of state and glory to follow the path of the Buddha.

In between my schooling, I left for a couple of years to travel all around Europe and parts of the Middle East. My parents strongly believed that just a book-ish kind of education would not develop my mind and make me understand/appreciate the rich diversity of different lands and its people . The nuns ( I studied in a Convent) also agreed. When I returned to take the board examiations, a new class teacher allocated me the ‘Green’ house, saying there was no place in the ‘blue’ house! I was devastated! My agonized pleadings fell on deaf ears.I have never been able to forgive that particular teacher for her in-senstivity and inability to understand/empathize. I actually went into a depression and my grades plummeted.Thankfully, the school Principal, a most beloved nun called Sister St Joseph, sensed my unhappiness and restored my blue house to me 🙂 I remember clearly her words to me then. She had talked about loyalty and ideals. I went on to become the Blue House Captain and we had won the ‘All Rounder ‘Cup. I also remember the screams of joy of the entire house when I won the ‘All Rounder’ student of the year too. We, Blues girls, were a team in heart, mind, body and soul 🙂

Politics and political parties was like my ‘house’ system earlier.They inspired. They made us want to achieve.They no longer do.

 Thus, Mahatma Gandhi, says in ‘Young India’, Oct 22, 1925, “The Roots of Violence: Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Knowledge without character, Commerce without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice, Politics without principles”.

 More of the conversation between the Walrus and the Carpenter.

It seems a shame,’ the Walrus said,
      To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
      And made them trot so quick!’
The Carpenter said nothing but
      The butter’s spread too thick!
I weep for you,’ the Walrus said:
      I deeply sympathize.’
With sobs and tears he sorted out
      Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
      Before his streaming eyes.
O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
      You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
      But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
      They’d eaten every one.”

Ring a bell, any one ?Why do I feel uneasy and bereft?Time to go , guys. I am going to listen to the Beatles now :