Friday, Jan 22, 2021 08:00 [IST]
Last Update: Friday, Jan 22, 2021 02:32 [IST]
Temperamental or Intellectual?
The Sustainable Development Solution Network publishes a World Happiness Report based on their survey of the state of global happiness. In their 2020 report, India ranked 144 out of 156 countries. The report was published in March 2020 which was much before the crushing pandemic maimed the world. I hope they will bypass the 2021 survey. This grieving world doesn’t need anyone to share how happy it has been during the dark days of 2020.
However, it is worthwhile to ask hypothetically, if there was a similar survey to measure national anger and frustration, where would our country feature in the ranking? Media, entertainment and politics – the three megaphones of Indian society indicate how angry and frustrated India is right now. Most of the news shows seem like a horror show anchored by news readers who seem to be irritation, annoyance and frustration personified. How do they manage to breathe normally after shouting their lungs out? Our entertainment is obsessed with savage brutality of the highest degree. Violence is the new virtue promoted by Bollywood. What can we say about Indian politics? It feels as if all the most frustrated and angry people have banded together to start an institution called politics. Constipated looks, raised index fingers, acerbic language and angry voices are the essential qualifications of an effective politician in contemporary India.
What do local politics look like? Of late, I have been watching a number of political rallies in the Darjeeling-Kalimpong hills and Sikkim recently. The political rallies in Darjeeling have been overwhelmingly attended by young people. Many young leaders have been addressing the rallies. Likewise, many young Sikkimese men and women have been seen speaking from political platforms. For the hills that have been obsessively wanting to see youth participation in politics, these are probably good signs. However, a closer look at this youth participation will bring to mind several causes for concern.
Almost every one of those youth leaders has compulsorily learnt to speak into the mic angrily and sometimes nastily. Their speeches sound like the expression of an angry mind. Their body language suggests how impatient, angry and frustrated they are. They continually shout at the top of their lungs with their index figure raised and anger written all over their young faces. Is that a good sign of politics? How well nurtured can a society be that is exposed to such angry emissions coming from the highest pedestal of politics?
What is lacking among these youth leaders is control over their emotions, depth in their utterances and vision in their outlook. The hill politics need youth for sure. However, what the hill politics needs even more is cool and calm headed youth who can think harder, deeper and smarter. Our politics doesn’t need to be driven by anger and hatred. We need to initiate a reason-driven, discourse-driven, studies-driven and wisdom-driven politics. We do not need trigger happy, angry shouters who have no control over their emotions. We need patient and deep thinkers who think with their mind, empathize with their hearts and speak from their conscience. Genuine smiles, sympathy, grace, love and respect must mark our young aspiring leaders. These traits are the hallmark of humanity in a civilized society.
Undoubtedly, there are hundreds of reasons behind the widespread frustration and lack of happiness in our country. It will take a tremendous effort on our part to transform India into a happier country. However, the first thing we must do is to discard the politics of anger and hatred. The hills must do the same. Darjeeling should have learnt by now what anger-driven politics has done to the hills. Sikkim must learn from the rest of India as well.
“Youth power” doesn’t mean ranting and raving and blowing one’s top all the time. Nor does it mean issuing threats and diatribe. Youth power is all about bringing a transformation in our overall thinking by way of advocacy, discourse and actions which will lead to a better and happier life. They must espouse to a thought revolution. Read eclectically and compulsorily. Listen to the world’s great leaders in different fields. Learn how they speak. Try to appreciate the depth of their knowledge, fathom the weight of their substance and appreciate the beauty of their articulation. Power does not lie in the loudness of our noise. Nor is it expressed in anger. Great speeches are not shouted out at the top of one’s lungs. Adding to this, character building is an absolute must. Honesty, meekness, trustworthiness and integrity make leadership genuinely powerful. Many cannot speak the truth because they lack these traits. Success achieved by speaking lies and empty threats are fleeting and often self-destructive. We only need to look at the now former US president to learn this lesson loud and clear.
When we talk about youth participation in politics, we must also be clear about the quality of their participation. Youth in itself has no potential. Youthfulness is equidistant from great wonderful possibilities and great disastrous tragedy. Therefore, it would be a disaster to catapult young people into positions of power and responsibility when they are more temperamental than intellectual.