Friday, Jan 21, 2022 11:45 [IST]

Last Update: Friday, Jan 21, 2022 06:12 [IST]

Is Opening New Political Outfits the only Way Forward?

JIWAN RAI

Political Possibilities
The world’s most advanced modern civilizations have not been the outcome of an endless number of political parties being born at regular intervals. Nor do the most progressive political cultures need more and more political parties joining the fray. What makes any nation or society politically strong is the quality and longevity of political discourse.
Sikkim’s smallness is its most useful blessing and most dangerous bane. In no other state in India are the possibilities as profuse as they are in Sikkim. One in three thousand adults can become an advisor or chairperson of a government department and one in ten thousand adults can become an MLA or Minister. One in over 3 lakh adults can become the Chief Minister or Lok Sabha MP. For that to happen, all one needs to do is to become politically active. In Darjeeling, even with its massive population, no local person has become a Lok Sabha MP in many years. The three hill MLAs there and other politically elected and nominated individuals do not enjoy as much political powers as our leaders do here. These political possibilities make the Sikkimese people a politically ambitious people.
There is no denying that such profuse political possibilities have benefitted a large number of politically active individuals and their families hugely. There has been overall development for sure. However, because we enjoy such limitless possibilities of achieving any political ambition locally, we have ignored the other fundamental aspect of politics - namely an intellectual discourse on Sikkim politics. That is possibly why in Sikkim any leader can say anything, anytime without being asked to justify the tenability of their utterances. And we are not unaware that in Sikkim, anti-intellectual utterances abound galore.  Our public discourse on politics has been most terribly stunted. To put it bluntly, in Sikkim, political activities outpace political ponderings, political noise outshouts political musings and political parties outnumber political thinkers. There is some sort of impatience among potential youth. Sikkim lacks educated individuals who can proactively think and act politically without necessarily becoming a member of a political party. We have not done enough to keep the political conversation going outside of political platforms. That is one reason why our politics work only electorally.
If Sikkim is serious about a paradigm shift in its political dispensation, we need to have a consistent, sincere, patient and bold political discourse in the public domain. I am not saying that we all need to join or launch a political party and start politicking. We need to hone our intellectual abilities to think and talk politics. Sikkim has to see more and more political commentators, thinkers, observers, analysts and lay people talking about politics. We do not need to join politics to support the party of our political leaning. We can be a professor or a businessperson and still support our political parties. We can be an analyst or contractor and support the party we like. But what we all need to do is lift our public discourse on politics to a higher level. We need to create a conducive ambiance for an open, free and civilized political dialogue in the print and electronic media. Let them who are driven by the zeal of becoming CM, Ministers, MLAs, Chairperson, etc. in the next election do what they want. But the others who want to see a long term change in the quality of Sikkim politics must remain fixated on commentating on contemporary politics. Mind you, politically active ones can hardly bring about a real change in politics - but thinkers, commentators, writers, journalists, scholars, observers and the rest can, provided they keep their thinking caps on and keep expressing themselves. It is a long-haul process for sure. It is not a 30 seconds to glory path. It is almost always a thankless job, often risky and the most ignored endeavour. But if we keep at it, we will gradually see our political thought processes maturing. That is exactly how the world’s most advanced civilizations have been built – through the rigour of behind the scenes, long haul thinking - and not through the noise of speeches and slogans.
Have you ever wondered why the majority of our leaders still speak toddler level language and think knee deep thoughts? Have you ever wondered why our politicians take the names of their political opponents more than they criticize their political stance? Have you ever wondered why there is so much heat in our political speeches and interviews and yet no light? Have you ever wondered why our leaders stir their supporters more than they inspire them? Have you ever wondered why we take most of our political decisions due to anger, not due to enduring reasoning? Have you ever wondered why our politicians worry more about 2024 than the long term future of the state? Have you ever wondered why our politics have been a seeming game for those who are more ambitious than they are meritoriously capable of?
The only way forward towards bringing about a long term change in our political culture is to keep our political discourse alive outside the political platform. We need to talk politics parallel to the political platforms decorated with flags and banners.  There are hundreds of able Sikkimese who can do this. But many of us are not doing it simply because no one gives an iota of interest in anything expressed outside the political forum. But that mustn’t discourage us. We need to keep talking, writing and expressing our perspectives as long as we do it honestly. Believe me, we do not need more political parties. But we certainly need more political thinkers.  It doesn’t matter what leanings they have. Some of the best thinkers in the world have their own political, philosophical and religious leanings. We must feel free to express and counter-express our perspectives. We do not need to keep changing our leanings, our talk and our tone. All we need to do is being who we are and saying what we think honestly.  
(jiwangtk@yahoo.com)

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi