The past few days, citizens of Karnataka are being treated to the latest round of ‘tamasha’ of the people in power. One Chief Minister challenges a former one to speak the truth in front of a popular deity. The people of the State watch as the slanging match reaches a new nadir in its idiocy and gumption. Many see the Chief Minister as having timed this very poorly, but is it really so? With so little governance to show to the people of the State, and with so many corruption scandals rocking him and his family members, I feel that it is very resourceful of him to shift the entire focus of the State to something that people are unsure of how to react to. Swami Vivekananda had once written that Indians are very religious – they live religion, eat religion, sleep religion and even rob religiously. Not to be left behind, our Chief Minister has added the uncanny craft of politicking religiously too. From doles to the many religious institutions to hobnobbing with religious heads to visiting the numerous temples all over the country to this latest ‘politrick’, he seems to have fine-tuned the art of doing everything but governing.
Not to be left too far behind, the former Chief Minister Kumaraswamy would also like to jump onto this bandwagon. It is a pity that he did so little when in office but now spends all his time in ‘exposing’ the Chief Minister. In doing so, he is only exposing himself and his empty political rhetoric. It is tragic that the people of the State have to tolerate such mediocrity in statecraft. Our founding fathers had this to say when they wrote Section 51A of the Constitution: ‘It shall be the duty of every citizen of India … (h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform’. With the political leadership being bankrupt of all scientific temper, whom does one turn to to lead this State from where our so called ‘God-fearing’ leaders have taken it to. Do they even know and understand what scientific temper is?
Wikipedia states that scientific temper describes an attitude which involves the application of logic and the avoidance of bias and preconceived notions. Discussion, argument and analysis are vital parts of scientific temper. It is thus necessarily open — admitting every point of view, however heterodox it might be, or where it comes from. Elements of fairness, equality and democracy are built into it.
As discussed in various other references, ‘spirit of inquiry and reform’ is part of scientific temper. It is interesting to note in this context that the Indian constitution mentions humanism also along with scientific temper.
It is time that our political class took a lesson in not only Governance and Statecraft but also in bringing this concept of scientific temper into their thinking and actions. Whether they realize it or not, they should understand that they are still role models for the political class from the Panchayath to the State level. Now everyone could decide to settle their political differences not through informed debate, but through ‘truth-ceremonies’ in temples. Why, one may even start thinking of having our assembly sessions in courtyards of temples – at least that way some truth may get spoken!
Governance seems to be the silent victim in the drama that is being played out. From our rural economy to infrastructure to service delivery – we seem to be besieged with mis-governance. The need of the hour is policies based on reason, science, humanism and socio-economic frameworks. Or possibly, our leaders feel that GOD will take care! Now the citizens need to make a beeline to the nearest temple and pray that God knocks some sense into our politicians and hope that ‘sanity’ will soon prevail. Till then, we have to wait and watch and see if God too can be bribed into silence.