A leading e-commerce website had conducted a big sale just a few days ago. Everything from mobile phones to shoes were on sale and millions of customers were racing to get the best deals. The kind of filters available for us today on these sites, make it much easier to arrive at the perfect jeans with the right colour and size. Now, when it comes to price we scour the internet to get the best deal for the same product. Even though this is our typical behaviour as consumers, as citizens we don’t even put this much effort in choosing our political leaders. 

For the past 3 years, we are witnessing a path-breaking leadership change in the USA. The most powerful leader of the free world, is now an individual who doesn’t believe in climate change, cultural exchanges or even social spending for that matter. Americans chose the leader they believed would guide them into the future. But the fact of the matter is that he still remains somebody who has an 18th-century line of thinking. 

As Indians, we have much to learn from this episode. As a middle-income country, we need to focus on choosing leaders who are more focussed on our future than our past. For more than seven decades the political narrative has been of poverty alleviation, healthcare, jobs, infrastructure etc. India has made a lot of progress in many of these areas and it is about time that we looked forward to newer, better and more future-focussed targets for our country. From the educational perspective, we need to focus on upcoming fields like space, quantum computing, green energy, electric mobility and more. 

Even though the ground reality remains that a large portion of our population lives below the line of poverty, it is also true that in the years to come India needs to be prepared in all manners to lead the world in terms of productivity, scientific research, skilled manpower and more. If the famous words of Joseph de Maistre are to be believed that “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”, then the responsibility is definitely on us to bestow power on people who believe in futuristic thinking. 

Instead, we are divided on religious lines, caste lines, regional lines, ideological lines and more. These are the parameters we use to choose our leadership. I think that instead of putting the burden on our government and elected representatives, it would be wiser to introspect within ourselves as to what are the parameters we have set for choosing our leaders. If we choose a leader on the lines of some distant ideology, then the blame too should be on us when the said leader under-performs or doesn’t perform at all.

If you look back and refer any manifesto brought out by any party during the previous Lok Sabha elections, you will see that the promises or benchmarks set are mostly very reactionary. The things that they plan to achieve are all a result of the general mood in society instead of being based on the actual long-term needs of our country. This to me is the kind of mediocrity that we cannot afford in our leadership. As Indian citizens who are aware of what’s happening in the world around us, we should play a proactive role in transforming the political agendas of political parties. An educated, aware, and active population has the best chance of electing and working with leaders who are fully aligned with the aspirations of our country.

For starters, please join volunteer groups or NGOs that are working to create social change by taking our leaders and political system into confidence. These organisations are your bridge to the political class that we elect. Even though active politics isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, being politically active and aware should be a personal priority for every proud Indian.

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash