Politics of Good
Hailing from a rural village Annadanam in the Nalgonda district of Telangana, Uma (28) was very passionate to be a part of Politics. Though she is well educated and worked extensively in the social sector for a decade, she couldn't find a way to the active politics as she hardly had any support and guidance. Meenakshi (24) from Delhi is running an NGO for education and social development, wants to be a politician and to become a minister, again clueless having experienced the dearth of platforms handholding her dream. However, there was a paradigm shift in the pathways of people like Uma and Meenakshi after "She Represents'' - a seven day immersive programme hosted by a Delhi based political leadership development organization Indian School of Democracy (ISD).
Politics is good but we have less politics of good, so we feel politics is dirty. The feeling of politics is dirty, makes it more dirty and keeps good people at bay. In a February 2020 judgement the supreme court asked the political parties to specify why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates. In 2019 as many as 43% of MPs had criminal cases pending against them. A very recent report by Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) finds that 24% of Rajya sabha members face criminal cases. The analysis also found that 203 of the 229 MPs or 89% of those analysed had declared assets over ₹1crore. The nexus of corruption and politics is also a pressing concern. Does it mean that politics is only for corrupted, criminals and affluent people ? Would it be a hindrance to attract people with integrity and commitment to be a part of the political process in this country? Answers to this question remains elusive.
Nevertheless, we have sprouts of hope. Indian School of Democracy (ISD) a budding organization founded by two young visionaries is one in such direction. Aiming high to build a community of principled public leaders, working to make India a global inspiration for inclusive democracy; Hemakshi Meghani graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School in public policy and Prakhar Bhartiya completed his masters in public administration from Columbia University are in a daring pursuit. After successfully organizing Democracy Express and She Represents- a week long programme introducing youth to different pathways to politics and building a community of future principled leaders, Indian School of Democracy is venturing into an year long programme. After seven decades of independence, we are not at a stage to say that our democracy is working for all. As we reflect, one of the many reasons is the dearth of principled leadership in public service. Today, India needs its best hearts and heads to serve, and nurture them as a cadre of enterprising and moral public servants, says Prakhar Bhartiya, one of the founders. Hemakshi, co-founder of ISD believes that every generation needs its own leaders and our generation is struggling to find principled leaders in the public and political landscape. Today, a lot of motivated and talented young leaders often do not choose the path of public service. We need to bring a change.
The recently concluded She Represents exudes confidence among the young team at ISD. “I have learnt that age doesn't define wisdom, I have got the reaffirmation that "naive optimism" is the way to go forward, I have learnt that the present policy work I do is only as effective as the results on ground lest it will only be a badge on my CV”; Spurti, one of the participants of She Represents shares her experiences. Uma says it's her life changing journey with ISD, Meenakshi undoubtedly decided to choose his tryst with politics, and Reeta wants to contribute more to his native community. Many more young people resolved to pursue their passion for national development through politics.
The notion of politics is dirty needs to change and the need of this hour is to create principled leaders who can colour the tapestry of democracy with vision, commitment and values.