Opinion Politics

The Old Men of Indian Politics

Old age may be equated with wisdom but in politics wisdom evaporates with old age. “The older I grow”, wrote American journalist and writer H.L. Mencken, “the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.” So is there any similarity between Manmohan Singh and L.K. Advani apart from their prime ministerial ambition? Yes, both the politicians have tuned grey. Manmohan Singh is 77; Advani is 82. That brings us to an interesting question: Why do we Indians – whose half population is under 25 – have prime ministers and political leaders on the wrong side of the age?

Consider this: Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first and longest serving prime minister, was 58 when he took charge of the country in 1947. Lal Bahadur Shastri was 60 when he became prime minister in June 1964 after the death of Nehru. Indira Gandhi was only 49 when she became the first and the only woman prime minister of India in 1966. Rajiv Gandhi was barely 40 when he became the prime minister following Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Vishwanath Pratap Singh was 58 when he succeeded in becoming prime minister in 1989. Chandra Shekhar was 63 when he took over prime ministership in 1990. H.D. Deve Gowda was 63 when he became prime minister in 1996.

So what were Manmohan Singh and L.K. Advani thinking when they exchanged verbal volleys? Was this an attempt to distract public attention? Nobody disputes the fact that Manmohan Singh is a meek prime minister. But is L.K. Advani a strong candidate for prime ministership as advertisements portray him to be? (A point worth-noting: L.K. Advani is the only Indian prime minister aspirant who is perhaps spending millons of rupees on advertisements) L.K. Advani may not have undergone heart surgery like Manmohan Singh but in essence he is weaker than the prime minister. In a press conference recently, he flexed his muscles by lifting a pair of dumbbells! This strategy was to diffuse the public perception that Advani is an old man. But wrinkles on his forehead cannot be straightened with a shot of botox injection! Advani is essentially a week man although he has been billed as India’s “iron man”. Why is Advani silent on Varun Gandhi’s communal outburst? It is not the first time that he has adopted the conspiracy of silence. Is that a sign of an iron man? Or has he become a man of irony?

If Manmohan Singh underwent a heart surgery then Atal Bihari Vajpayee had a knee replacement in the year 2000 as a prime minister. It was a replacement of the knee of nation! Can we imagine that the “heart” and “knee” of nation are so weak that it requires an operation to fix them?

Then there are politicians who can’t even walk: Arjun Singh (79), our HRD minister, walks on a wheelchair. A.K. Antony (69), defence minister, recently fainted while attending a parade in Pune. Pranab Mukherjee (74), who still dreams to become prime minister, can be seen catching forty winks at campaign rallies. BJP stalwarts Jawant Singh and Yashwant Sinha are above the age of 70.

Jyoti Basu, the longest serving chief minister of Bengal, was part of the CPI (M) Polit bureau till April 2008, at the age of 94! Karnanidhi is 85 but still heads DMK! M.K. Naraynan, our National Security Advisor, is 75! What kind of security can we expect from him?

Why can’t we have a legislation to put restriction on the age of politicians? We already have a legislation by which bureaucrats retire at the age of 58. Although both politicians and bureaucrats are public servants but we treat them with a different yardstick. Alas, no such legislation is going to come forward from any political party because all parties are united on this: they intend to rule India till the last breath! India will not witness the dawn of professional politics as long as this “democratic freedom” is curtailed. Perhaps this tradition of rewarding old men of politics is borrowed from Joint Hindu Family Firm (JHFF) where ‘Karta’ remains the head of the family as long as he is alive!

One cursory look at other democracies reveals that the politicians are far younger. Barack Hussein Obama, president of United States, is only 48; Gordon Brown, prime minister of United Kingdom, is 58. Nicholas Sarkozy, French president, is 54.

The Indian politicians will rebuke the idea of political retirement because politicians never ‘retire’; they are only ‘tired’! There must be an age for political retirement, say, 65. Politicians will have 7 grace years as compared to bureaucrats! Isn’t this a good hypothesis for politicians? For those who don’t agree on 65 as the age of retirement, consider this:

After 65, Alzheimer’s disease is very common in developed countries like America. Indian politicians have been victims of Alzheimer’s disease as well. From Ranganath Misra to Sri Krishna to Sachar Commission, Indian politicians have literally “forgotten” the real issues of Indian Muslims.

Isn’t this a result of Alzheimer’s disease?

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About the author

Mubasshir Mushtaq

Mubasshir Mushtaq is a freelance journalist and corporate analyst for DinarStandard.com. He is the Indian correspondent for Egyptian website Islamonline.net. He also writes for Inquilab, India’s largest selling Urdu daily published by Mid-Day Group. His pieces have appeared in the Asian Age, Deccan Chronicle and Covert magazine. He specialises in law, journalism and current affairs. He says, “Business runs in my blood, law lies in my logic and journalism in my jaw.” He is 25 and holds a PG Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication.

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  • Muslims.Muslims and Muslims???????Anything else hero???? hate non Muslims or hate Hindus or Jews or hate USA-inspite of the fact that south asian nations are dependent on money from USA.If religion has made us perverts,I cannot expect sanity from intellectuals.When you ask muslims were neglected-why cannot we question our faults???? Why is islam tainted with terrorists? Why are you not sorry shall I say religiously blind to mass murder tactics of mullahs and terrorists??? What are your recommendations for oppression of muslim women?? What are recommendations for madrassas??? Why is islam called religion of terror? The list is endless!!!!!!
    World is seeing a monster in Pakistan!!! What are your recommendations hero?????? It has be muslim or muslim or muslim or we cannot sleep right ???????? Unless we lose this religious stink we have surrounded ourselves-we will not progress.

  • No one has forgotten the issues of Indian Muslims.I think there are very few issues of Muslims in India.They live like king atleast in Bengal.Its proof is three districts of West Bengal is Muslim majority….malda,murshidabad and North Dinajpur.They are highly placed in Indian jobs.Do a research and see yourself…and forget about this Sachar Committee..please dont disturb our harmony…..

  • Also…..i would agree that young generation should come forward to take hold……why not you?..come and tke hold if you are so concerned may be not for India…but atleast for Muslims.Do something rather than shouting take charge….sorry bhi..if i have been little harsh!