Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Age based reservation in Indian politics (Satire)

Ganguly is out of the one day team. I suppose a golden duck is enough to throw him out of the reckoning, though age and agility have been touted as the underlying reasons. I wish we were as strict with the non-performers in the government offices. I wish we followed the policy of sacking politicians on age and non-performance basis. There is no fool proof method of ensuring that senile leaders don't win election. In a country where we use the excuse of age to let the batsman in best form and other two with their proven record sit out in a series against Australia, it is too incredible to see bare chested forty plus, Shah Rukh Khan being accepted in role of twenty year olds, and an even older Rajnikant gross billions as young and dashing protagonist in Sivaji. Yet I am here not to praise the aged, but bury them.

In the following text copied from Wikipedia, we have the age based statistics of India for coming years:


Table 2: Population Projections (in millions)

Year Under 15 15-64 65+ Total
2000 361 604 45 1010
2005 368 673 51 1093
2010 370 747 58 1175
2015 372 819 65 1256
2020 373 882 76 1331

Source: Based on P.N. Mari Bhat, "Indian Demographic Scenario 2025", Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi, Discussion Paper No. 27/2001.


In a country where we have reservation for everything, including communities that together constitute the majority of population, it is disheartening to see the minority -- old people -- are ruling the nation. While people above the age of 65 constitute only 5% of Indian population, they hold most of the offices of value, including ministries and the presidency. The 33% people, all below the age of 15, are totally unrepresented. Their daddies and mummies (who are fighting against >65 saasus or mothers-in-law) are also under-represented. I suppose and propose age based reservation to get rid of the bias. The lack of age base equality has lead to gross miscalculation of India's needs and priorities by a minority, age-old political community. No wonder they harp about things that ended with fall of Berlin Wall or crumbling of Russian Empire. No wonder they still think of subsidies in government ration shops and caste-based reservation as the only viable means of making a large section of people happy. Wake up! The share of government as an employer of value has dwindled to the degree that was unimaginable twenty years ago. (I guess they woke up to that possibility, so the brand new education and industrial policy wants to impose caste-based affirmative action everywhere).

We need young leaders. Nearly half of India in 2015 will comprise of people who were born and grew up after the onset of globalization. Nearly half of the Indians by 2015 will have no connection or sentimental attachment to Gandhi family and so candidature of Rahul Gandhi and policies of Congress party that revolve around him are doomed. Nearly half of the country would have no recollection of the fall of Babri Masjid or Advani's Rath Yatra and so BJP needs to reinvent itself. Nearly half of the country would have grown up with hundreds of channels to choose from (including MTV and Fashion TV), will have no televised Ramayana or Mahabharata serials in their memory, and with Tendulkar as their only cricket icon since their birth. The country's morals and regional values would have plummeted beyond recognition. Most of the working class in next decade will comprise of people who would have no recollection of waiting lines for telephones, cars, scooters and so on that existed in pre-globalization era. Most educated ones will lack capacity to read and write well in their local, ancestral languages, and most would have no recollection of wars with Pakistan, China or riots/blasts in Mumbai. Many would have studied from politically correct bland textbooks and many would have dropped out after high school for high paying BPO night shifts. Many would have grown up in nuclear families, many without siblings and too many with digitized dreams. Most wouldn't know of the Emergency, the lack of Coca Cola for over a decade, the militancy in Panjab and that Pandits ever lived in Kashmir. To give them representation, to give them a voice, to address their concerns and needs requires a fresh breed of leaders, that can be nourished only by age based reservation.

For centuries people of young age have been kept under the rule of old people. Old people have always had a position of privilige that they have ever used in promoting more old people. Old age is hereditary. The improvement in health services has only increased the potency of old age. Viagra is perhaps responsible for many old leaders continuing to rule even after their retirement age is past due. Even where the father has been minister or politician for thirty to forty years (intermittently at times), the children have to wait till they reach necessary old age to become leaders. The injustice that has continued for centuries must be addressed in a fashion similar to how caste based divisions have been repressed (or was it re-stressed) by reservation. It is high time that the young ones in India launch a struggle to disband the tribe of the minority old people who are occupying the positions of worth. The time has come for the young to truly snatch what is rightfully theirs. In the democracy the majority must rule, and by reservation, we ensure just that. So be it the realm of caste or age, we must follow the policy of affirmative action. The under-represented, under-valued youth in India needs empowerment.

The youth need their rightful say in the governance and decision making. We must re-prescribe the Hindu tradition of Vanaprastha (leaving material life for life in forests) for old people. This will force new blood in the political world of India, and simultaneously increase the number of people leading pious and religious life in the country. Well, for the benefits of Vanaprastha and Sanyasa (total giving up of worldliness), I will ask you to refer to Vedas, Upanishads or maybe their German translations that have been subsequently translated into titles like "Hinduism for Dummies" (or will be translated into such titles). This is no time to let the old lurk as rulers and hurdles in the progress of the majority, the vibrant, the young in India. An age based reservation in politics is the need of the hour.


Anonymous said...

Thats a great thought for a country like ours although I more strongly support no reservation for anything except capability kind of model. With more educated youth in ruling position, we might have fewer incidences of girls getting beaten up for going to pubs. I am not sure we would forget our traditions or history by that much. At least I hope we dont.
Another problem also is the hesitation among young adults to jump into politics. It definitely is a dirty mess with crime and corruption and not easy for lot of people to handle. Hope that situation changes at some point so that the oldies are actually forced into vanaprasthashram.

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