Why Politicians make for bad Policy Makers?

I was reading this piece in Businessworld, and found a very succinct reason why politicians, who are so successful at stirring up local emotions, falter when they win the elections and enter the bigger stage (near the end of the article): [link]

Politicians grow up in stagnant little wells of local politics, where they learn to play with parochial prejudices. The prejudices are shackles in the larger roles politicians end up in.

Made a lot of sense to me!

Sometimes, some politicians are smart enough to figure out that in order to build up grassroots base they need to stir up emotions — and they do it just to win the elections, even though they know full well that its just a means to an end. What’s happening in Mumbai (marathi maanoos) and what happened in Gujarat (post Godhra) earlier, and often keeps happening in Bangalore (Kannada Rajyabhasha) are obvious examples of these.

I am also so thankful that our prime minister is a non-political person. At least he doesn’t do things for a political win — however, I wish he had some more politicial dexterity to handle his party, his coalition-partners, and the opposition better.

About kpowerinfinity
I *♥* technology, business, conversations, experiences, books, music, theater, coffee and people. I am an entrepreneur in the city of Bangalore - my company, Capillary, provides customer engagement programs and marketing services to retailers around the world.

10 Responses to Why Politicians make for bad Policy Makers?

  1. Vijit Jain says:

    Politicians are forever seeking to exploit ‘parochial prejudices’. I think this phenomenon is a downside especially acute in democracies, owing to the very nature of their establishment order. They however succeed to varying extents in different countries and the difference has mostly to do with education and awareness.

    Thus in an America, you would be hard put to win elections by stoking Yankee prejudice amongst the Southerners but you might be able to do so by ranting against immigrants (they call immigrants ‘aliens’, for crying out loud).

    I guess what I am basically trying to say is that, most of the politicians are the bad apples of a society, but they are still springing from that same society. Its upto the society to forever churn its carts, drop the bad ones and improve quality of apples its throwing out as leaders.

  2. @vijit: True — finally, in a democracy, the final blame lies with the electorate. However, I am not sure if the situation is as simple as that. I was reading in Tarun Khanna’s Billions of …, most people vote for instant gratification rather than understanding the longer term policy. Who can help them get the next meal, or job… rather than who improves economy.

    Talking about America, given that most Americans have a completely different world view, and their politicians too twist the issues to suit their needs. Finally, education should not stop with being able to read or write, but is about insight, and all politicians take advantage of their polity having a modicum of that.

    Politicians are definitely the bad apples — what happens (I think) is that the grassroots politics is so nasty that its very difficult for the good apples to survive it. Its the survival of the fittest — and I am afraid, the way standards are falling, this may be one area where we might rue Darwinism a lot more than we wish.

  3. theincompletesentence says:

    Well..PM Singh is no good than the rest of the lot. He has no backbone, lacks authority and lied to the nation about the damning restrictions imposed on India’s military nuclear ambitions by the N-deal with USA..!!!

  4. Abhishek says:

    Well I wouldn’t say Manmohan Singh lied about anything. I would be surprised if people expected US to just ignore the nuclear test issue. As Mr. Singh himself put it “we have right to test and they have right to react”. And THEY will react the same way, irrespective of whether we go ahead with the deal or NOT. It is true that with the deal we will be more dependent on other nations, but the risk involved could be minimized if we get more nations to supply us the nuclear fuel.

  5. Abhishek says:

    @KK and Vijit: both of you are obviously right, but I would appreciate vijit’s opinion more because it asks “us” to realize our duty rather than pointing at political evil. Raj Thakhrey is a smart sshole, and dumber ssholes are those who follow him, and dumbest are those who understand the situation well but do not react to it in election. It is so unfortunate that those who actually understand (or think so :) ) issues and/or posses ability to distinguish between “bad and worse”, ppl like us, do not take interest in issues and vote. I am pointing at many of cool-s/w-dudes, who simple say “marane do saalon ko”, instead of “maaron salon ki”. Half of them are idiots and other half are those who have lost hope in any “Indian” system.

    In summary :
    1) We need more involvement
    2) we need to be more hopeful and learn from ppl who are actually still working hard to develop the country

  6. Abhishek says:

    if we compare India and US, why do we forget that How long US has been a free country, and how long India, and we are now competing with them on many issues.

  7. Abhishek says:

    not issues, front (typical s/w lingo: issues)

  8. @theincompletesentence: I agree that perhaps the PM would’ve been more open, but I also understand that its very difficult to be very open in such situations. Finally, he does mean the best for the country (in which I have no doubt). I think Manmohan Singh for one is above those accusations. And as Abhishek says, what would happen in future is anybody’s guess (pun intended). There would be sanctions, and we would live with them.

    @Abhishek: Agree — the dumbest are the ones who know but don’t act — but in most cases, its not as simple (which would be the typical answer). Getting into that territory is extremely pernicious, and before one gets in, one better be fully aware of the consequences. In this regard, I actually love the Tata Tea ‘Jaago Re’ campaign — which just exhorts the young to rise up and vote. I think our franchise is a great power in our hands, and we should rise up and exercise it— which unfortunately many don’t.

  9. Abhishek says:

    I agree, many of can not enter that territory, I insisted upon voting and be positive and hopeful about the system and India. Feel proud of fit, try to rectify the wrongs if we can. Just being a responsible citizen is all it takes to make a country world leader. Small changes that we all can bring in our lives are: follow the general rules, do not waste resources and through vote let the lesser bastard win to “force” him to be lesser and lesser bastard.

  10. theincompletesentence says:

    @ Abhishek: The reaction of US, in case India do another N-test is her prerogative, but the effect of that would be much more significant now, both in economical and technological terms. Also, the approach to get imported technology is always a step backward from development in real terms.
    I know a lot of us who read news on internet and listen it on tv believe what the Indian Gov and our PM has said because that was what got coverage from our mass media.(which equally sucks like Indian politicians..that’s a different topic altogether). However, facts say a different story. Please go through the following article if you have time: http://www.frontlineonnet.com/stories/20081107252211300.htm.

    Well I am not doing an India-bashing, but then we have to accept that things are not at all fine and there’s no real effort to improve it, at least in terms of political will of our leaders(including PM Singh). I’m happy that we are reaching to the moon in a few days time but more sad that 17 Indian states have “very alarming” stages of hunger in people and India has the largest number of people suffering from hunger in the world!!(http://theincompletesentence.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/india-land-of-hunger-for-growth-or-growth-of-hunger/)
    I still believe Mr Singh is in the league of worst prime ministers India ever had..well on second thoughts I don’t even see a league of good PM’s of India..;-)

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