Whether political parties adopt capitalism, communism, socialism, or any other ?ism?, basically all deal with issues of how best to cater to the fair aspirations of people, how to conduct a society so that it removes disparities.
By George Fernandes
For any human being who has been blessed with intelligent thought processes, emotions and aspirations beyond his own survival and well-being, there has to be a goal and a purpose. An individual also knows that concern for the self cannot live in isolation. It has to be connected with the lives of others and society in general. Most such thoughts are in the realm of philosophy since human beings ask questions about the purpose of their existence, the presence of good and evil, and the kinds of checks and balances that must exist to have a well-ordered and just society.
Any ideology is rooted in such philosophical premises. Therefore it can be said that philosophy has been popularised through politics. Whether political parties adopt capitalism, communism, socialism, or any other ?ism?, basically all deal with issues of how best to cater to the fair aspirations of people, how to conduct a society so that it removes disparities and injustices, how to provide opportunities to all citizens to serve both themselves and others so that the fruits of production are available to all, and how to motivate people to give of their best to build a nation. Ideologies must be inspirational, educational, motivational and sentimental and have a sound underpinning of morality and ethics. To that extent it would also be fair to say that ideology is to politics what religion is to society as it provides an anchor for actions that is essentially for the well-being of all.
A party has to have an ideological foundation to provide the binding thread that allows people of identical ideas to come together to pursue their public goals in a purposeful manner. If there is no ideology, there is no inspiration and if there is no inspiration there can be no action.
Ideologies must be inspirational, educational, motivational and sentimental and have a sound underpinning of morality and ethics.
Ideology in coalition era
Since coalition governments have become a recent way of life in Indian politics, the ideological positions of participating political parties are necessarily jettisoned in order to find common acceptable ground for them to work together. While this is a fact of life and compromise is an essential part of politics, the inspiration and motivation stirred up through taking strong ideological positions is lost. Therefore, parties and party workers seem to find themselves at a loss and without familiar moorings while their counterparts in government are engaged in essentially administrative tasks?otherwise known as governance. Even in such activities, where normally an ideology would govern the choice of action among a set of options, in a coalition where no ideology prevails, the choice is often the ?common? and ?minimum? acceptable one but perhaps without either ethical anchors or commitments to stated positions.
Basically and essentially, politics must be about people and not about the politician. Unfortunately, in a world where individuals and personalities are given more importance than team work, ideologies, methodologies and collective functioning, the politician projects only himself or herself and forgets about the people except as a slogan or peg on which to hang their ambitions. Politics is about people, their joys and sorrows, their hopes and aspirations, and it is their collective strength that must fuel the politician to work with a singleness of purpose.
Ideology lifts us out of our own selfish concerns and puts us into a frame where we are willing to sacrifice personal gain for public good.
What happens in the absence of ideology? It means the absence of institutionalised activity with integrity and discipline, the absence of collective responsibility and teamwork, and most importantly, the absence of any motivation to struggle against the ills of society, governance and other aspects of public concern. Ideology lifts us out of our own selfish concerns and puts us into a frame where we are willing to sacrifice personal gain for public good. Whether the motivation for a certain ideology comes from religion or logic or ethics, and whether it reflects concerns of human rights, nationalism, freedom from poverty, a fair distribution of the resources of mankind, or any other aspect of public life, the ultimate purpose is ostensibly the same.
Dr Ram Manohar Lohia once said, ?Politics is short term religion and religion is long term politics?. Just as religion cannot do without ethics, morality, justice and humility, politics too cannot function without an ideology that encompasses all these aspects. An ideology also cannot be one-dimensional when it translates itself into politics. Here again, Dr Lohia defined the three necessary aspects that could be called integrated and holistic politics. He offered the symbol of the shovel to denote constructive political work. The bars of a jail signified the willingness to struggle and give up one'sown freedom, if necessary, to secure the rights of others, and the ballot box, to demonstrate that a combination of the first two, along with participation in the electoral system in a democratic framework together constitute true politics. All these aspects must therefore reflect the idealism provided by an ideology, the intellectual inspiration to collectively work for the common good, and the ethical underpinning to achieve credibility. Without ideology politics becomes mere soulless play-acting and governance becomes the mere mechanical functioning of various arms of what is largely a heartless administrative system.