Sadhguru and Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan : Criminalization of Politics
Sadhguru and Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan : Criminalization of Politics
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Sadhguru and Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan : Criminalization of Politics

Pennews

In an episode of the “In Conversation with the Mystic” series that took place on 16 June 2012 in Hyderabad, Sadhguru and Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan discussed a range of subjects from morality to politics and corruption, nation and society, and the spiritual and temporal. The following is the sixth part of their conversation.

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (JP): Sadhguru, to go back to the practical realm of politics and governance – you have a real challenge in the country today. You go to any party leader, any legislator in the country, an MLA or MP, a Chief Minister or opposition leader – privately, they all lament the same thing: “I want to do something good, but without spending crores of rupees to buy votes, I’m not able to get elected. Without putting up crooks and criminals as candidates in many places, my party does not have a chance of getting those seats. But once I get those people in, I’m helpless because then I’m caught in a vicious cycle. I cannot get out of it.” Now what do I do? I know this is a self-created problem. The political process that ought to be the solution has become the problem over a period of time. Partly because we centralized power; partly because we gave people an illusion that a king is elected, not a representative to get things done through due process of law; partly because we have not even ensured the delivery of simple services. Whether it is a birth certificate or a ration card, without some baksheesh or sifarish , nothing happens.

Sadhguru: If you don’t have money, you’re not born. [Laughter]

JP:Absolutely. A famous cricket star told me this story. There was a death in the family; he went to the municipal office in Bengaluru for a death certificate, and he wanted it immediately. They said, “No. You can collect it tomorrow by paying 50 rupees.” He told the lady at the counter, “I have to go on a West Indies tour tonight, as part of the Test Team. I’ll give you 100 rupees. Can you give the certificate now?” She said, “Yes.” One thing that is nice about corruption is it is totally socialist. Cricket star, influential person, or poor person – it applies universally.

Sadhguru:If you pay 250 rupees, you can get it even if the person is still alive. [Laughter]

JP:Absolutely. Add a few more zeros, and you can actually kill the person. But Sadhguru, given this context, for people to take care of their lives and to empower the communities so that leadership emerges and they understand responsibility and limits, if things go wrong, you must punish them very firmly, but people will start taking responsibility.

Sadhguru:Now you must define the word community. There is a challenge in that.

JP:A village, a ward.

Sadhguru:That is not how people look at it. “My religion is my community. My caste is my community. My family is my community. My community is my blood.” These definitions of community have to change, which is not an easy task. This would have worked best had it been done when the euphoria of nationhood happened, but we have not done that work.

JP:You are absolutely right, Sadhguru. It is an extremely complex task. We messed up quite a bit; now we have a challenge on our hands. Obviously, we cannot give up in despair, and we cannot wait ad infinitum to transform the democracy in India. We have to make it happen as fast as possible.

Sadhguru:Yes, we have been developing for too long. [Laughs]

JP:Exactly. People who ought to be willing to take political responsibility are not willing to do so because they know it is a thankless, losing proposition. A good person – good not only morally but in terms of competence, delivery, vision, and leadership – is now shunning public life. If you create an electoral model that makes it easy for such people to get elected, things could change.

We all talk about criminals in politics. In 1999, we came out with a list of 42 notorious criminals contesting elections at that time in this state [Andhra Pradesh]. That was the beginning of a process that led to a law in 2003. But why are these criminals in politics in the first place? The first thing is, when there is no normative justice, the criminal whom we revile has actually become the undeclared judge. He became the saviour of the ordinary people; therefore he earned their respect and their money. Two, once the criminal has that influence; he wants to be in politics because he can control the police in a system where the police are in the hands of politicians. Three, once in our electoral system money power, caste power, and muscle power together ensure a higher chance of success, the political parties are after you. And four, in a system where nothing gets done in an ordinary course, a danda seems to get some things done. And therefore people trust a criminal to get at least something done in an inflexible system. Without going into these issues, merely saying, “all politicians are criminals,” doesn’t really take us far. Could we make people recognize the complexity of the political process? And how to bring about the fastest and most genuine transformation of our polity?

Sadhguru:As you defined the problem, I would like to stretch it a little bit before I answer this question. That is, criminals are not entering politics because they want to control the police or something like that. Essentially, whether policeman or criminal, both of them carry a danda. One serves what all of us have agreed to as law. Another serves his own understanding of how the society should be.

Whenever those who carry the danda to enforce the law do not wield it effectively enough, in reasonable amounts of time, naturally people will look to someone else who has a danda and will wield it quickly. You get justice quickly. Today in India, it has become very ambiguous – who is criminal and who is not. As it is, so many people who are respected businessmen are in prison. Tihar jail is full of top level business people. “Criminal” is a strong word.

We need to understand this in the Indian context. Our action should be appropriate to the situation we are in. We cannot talk like Switzerland, where if you put a law on the notice board, everyone will follow it. That is not where we are. So what is the solution? The solution is simple enough, but not so easily enforceable. It is very easy to say, “All of you vote for the best man.” Who is the best man? What do I do if I don’t like any of them? A lot of youth don’t vote. That is not a solution. Whom do I vote for? The best criminal! [Laughs] In Tamil, there is a saying that means, “Do you want a good man or do you want a capable man?”

Jayaprakash Narayan: It’s not a possibility to have both at the same time?

Sadhguru:I’m not saying it’s not possible. But if that is the choice, what is your choice? If you are interested in the nation, you want a capable man. If you are interested in your own morality, ethics, and values, you want a good man. Good people who sit in very significant positions of power and do not have the capability to make their goodness manifest, will do more damage than a criminal.

JP:But we would like both competence and integrity to be together.

Sadhguru:You asked for a practical solution, not an ethical answer. We must understand, the leadership as a whole has gone through a metamorphosis in the last 200 years. A few centuries ago, religious leadership was the most powerful leadership; religious leaders controlled even the king. After some time, the military leadership took over. We suffered the dogmatism of religious leadership and came down to the tyranny of military leadership. Then, in the last 100 years, we have moved on to the confoundedness of democratic leadership.

For a simple decision that one man could make, 540 people sit together and cannot arrive at a decision. Everyone knows what the country needs, but to make 540 people agree to one idea is taking a long time. By the time you make a decision, it is irrelevant, most of the time. This confoundedness is there across the planet and nations. Whether it is ecological laws, human rights, or other things, you cannot make any decision because various interest groups keep pulling and pushing.

Now, leadership is moving into the hands of economic leaders. In the next 15 to 20 years, economic leadership will become far more important than political leadership. Even now, in many countries, businesses already decide what the politicians should do. Here in India, we have done a different kind of job. We have an economist as a Prime Minister; he has never been elected. This means we are not following democracy because democracy happens by election.

Right now, we are running the nation by selection – because we have our own jugad for everything. While across the planet, the power is moving from the political leadership to the economic leadership, here, the economic leadership has not come to that level, so we have made an economist a leader, who has no political capabilities. In a democratic society, when a political leader stands up, a million people should stand up with him – only then he is a political leader.

When the leadership is moving into the hands of business, this is a responsibility. I don’t know whether they will stand up to it. In the last 10, 12 years, I have been constantly in dialogue with economic leaders across the planet and also in this country, mainly because I see that in the next few years, the world will be theirs.

They have always been seen as vested interests because they are people who operate out of personal ambitions. To transform them from personal ambition to a larger vision is the most significant thing we need to do right now, because whether you like it or not, the power will shift from political leadership to economic leadership. If the shift does not happen consciously, it will move from economic leadership to criminalization. A criminal is a businessman. He is driven by personal ambition, but he does not go by the law – that is all the difference is.

Many business people are also not going by the law because the law is ambiguous and it is enforced ad hoc. “Why should I go by the law? I will find some other way to do it.” This culture is setting in. If we do not shift this consciously, naturally, criminals will become leaders. You should not be surprised if people who have proper criminal records become Prime Minister of this country in the next 20 years if we do not do anything about it now.

In an episode of the “In Conversation with the Mystic” series that took place on 16 June 2012 in Hyderabad, Sadhguru and Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan discussed a range of subjects from morality to politics and corruption, nation and society, and the spiritual and temporal. The following is the sixth part of their conversation.

JP: Sadhguru, to go back to the practical realm of politics and governance – you have a real challenge in the country today. You go to any party leader, any legislator in the country, an MLA or MP, a Chief Minister or opposition leader – privately, they all lament the same thing: “I want to do something good, but without spending crores of rupees to buy votes, I’m not able to get elected. Without putting up crooks and criminals as candidates in many places, my party does not have a chance of getting those seats. But once I get those people in, I’m helpless because then I’m caught in a vicious cycle. I cannot get out of it.” Now what do I do? I know this is a self-created problem. The political process that ought to be the solution has become the problem over a period of time. Partly because we centralized power; partly because we gave people an illusion that a king is elected, not a representative to get things done through due process of law; partly because we have not even ensured the delivery of simple services. Whether it is a birth certificate or a ration card, without some baksheesh or sifarish , nothing happens.

Sadhguru: If you don’t have money, you’re not born. [Laughter]

JP:Absolutely. A famous cricket star told me this story. There was a death in the family; he went to the municipal office in Bengaluru for a death certificate, and he wanted it immediately. They said, “No. You can collect it tomorrow by paying 50 rupees.” He told the lady at the counter, “I have to go on a West Indies tour tonight, as part of the Test Team. I’ll give you 100 rupees. Can you give the certificate now?” She said, “Yes.” One thing that is nice about corruption is it is totally socialist. Cricket star, influential person, or poor person – it applies universally.

Sadhguru:If you pay 250 rupees, you can get it even if the person is still alive. [Laughter]

JP:Absolutely. Add a few more zeros, and you can actually kill the person. But Sadhguru, given this context, for people to take care of their lives and to empower the communities so that leadership emerges and they understand responsibility and limits, if things go wrong, you must punish them very firmly, but people will start taking responsibility.

Sadhguru:Now you must define the word community. There is a challenge in that.

JP:A village, a ward.

Sadhguru:That is not how people look at it. “My religion is my community. My caste is my community. My family is my community. My community is my blood.” These definitions of community have to change, which is not an easy task. This would have worked best had it been done when the euphoria of nationhood happened, but we have not done that work.

JP:You are absolutely right, Sadhguru. It is an extremely complex task. We messed up quite a bit; now we have a challenge on our hands. Obviously, we cannot give up in despair, and we cannot wait ad infinitum to transform the democracy in India. We have to make it happen as fast as possible.

Sadhguru:Yes, we have been developing for too long. [Laughs]

JP:Exactly. People who ought to be willing to take political responsibility are not willing to do so because they know it is a thankless, losing proposition. A good person – good not only morally but in terms of competence, delivery, vision, and leadership – is now shunning public life. If you create an electoral model that makes it easy for such people to get elected, things could change.

We all talk about criminals in politics. In 1999, we came out with a list of 42 notorious criminals contesting elections at that time in this state [Andhra Pradesh]. That was the beginning of a process that led to a law in 2003. But why are these criminals in politics in the first place? The first thing is, when there is no normative justice, the criminal whom we revile has actually become the undeclared judge. He became the saviour of the ordinary people; therefore he earned their respect and their money. Two, once the criminal has that influence; he wants to be in politics because he can control the police in a system where the police are in the hands of politicians. Three, once in our electoral system money power, caste power, and muscle power together ensure a higher chance of success, the political parties are after you. And four, in a system where nothing gets done in an ordinary course, a danda seems to get some things done. And therefore people trust a criminal to get at least something done in an inflexible system. Without going into these issues, merely saying, “all politicians are criminals,” doesn’t really take us far. Could we make people recognize the complexity of the political process? And how to bring about the fastest and most genuine transformation of our polity?

Sadhguru:As you defined the problem, I would like to stretch it a little bit before I answer this question. That is, criminals are not entering politics because they want to control the police or something like that. Essentially, whether policeman or criminal, both of them carry a danda. One serves what all of us have agreed to as law. Another serves his own understanding of how the society should be.

Whenever those who carry the danda to enforce the law do not wield it effectively enough, in reasonable amounts of time, naturally people will look to someone else who has a danda and will wield it quickly. You get justice quickly. Today in India, it has become very ambiguous – who is criminal and who is not. As it is, so many people who are respected businessmen are in prison. Tihar jail is full of top level business people. “Criminal” is a strong word.

We need to understand this in the Indian context. Our action should be appropriate to the situation we are in. We cannot talk like Switzerland, where if you put a law on the notice board, everyone will follow it. That is not where we are. So what is the solution? The solution is simple enough, but not so easily enforceable. It is very easy to say, “All of you vote for the best man.” Who is the best man? What do I do if I don’t like any of them? A lot of youth don’t vote. That is not a solution. Whom do I vote for? The best criminal! [Laughs] In Tamil, there is a saying that means, “Do you want a good man or do you want a capable man?”

JP: It’s not a possibility to have both at the same time?

Sadhguru:I’m not saying it’s not possible. But if that is the choice, what is your choice? If you are interested in the nation, you want a capable man. If you are interested in your own morality, ethics, and values, you want a good man. Good people who sit in very significant positions of power and do not have the capability to make their goodness manifest, will do more damage than a criminal.

JP: But we would like both competence and integrity to be together.

Sadhguru:You asked for a practical solution, not an ethical answer. We must understand, the leadership as a whole has gone through a metamorphosis in the last 200 years. A few centuries ago, religious leadership was the most powerful leadership; religious leaders controlled even the king. After some time, the military leadership took over. We suffered the dogmatism of religious leadership and came down to the tyranny of military leadership. Then, in the last 100 years, we have moved on to the confoundedness of democratic leadership.

For a simple decision that one man could make, 540 people sit together and cannot arrive at a decision. Everyone knows what the country needs, but to make 540 people agree to one idea is taking a long time. By the time you make a decision, it is irrelevant, most of the time. This confoundedness is there across the planet and nations. Whether it is ecological laws, human rights, or other things, you cannot make any decision because various interest groups keep pulling and pushing.

Now, leadership is moving into the hands of economic leaders. In the next 15 to 20 years, economic leadership will become far more important than political leadership. Even now, in many countries, businesses already decide what the politicians should do. Here in India, we have done a different kind of job. We have an economist as a Prime Minister; he has never been elected. This means we are not following democracy because democracy happens by election.

Right now, we are running the nation by selection – because we have our own jugad for everything. While across the planet, the power is moving from the political leadership to the economic leadership, here, the economic leadership has not come to that level, so we have made an economist a leader, who has no political capabilities. In a democratic society, when a political leader stands up, a million people should stand up with him – only then he is a political leader.

When the leadership is moving into the hands of business, this is a responsibility. I don’t know whether they will stand up to it. In the last 10, 12 years, I have been constantly in dialogue with economic leaders across the planet and also in this country, mainly because I see that in the next few years, the world will be theirs.

They have always been seen as vested interests because they are people who operate out of personal ambitions. To transform them from personal ambition to a larger vision is the most significant thing we need to do right now, because whether you like it or not, the power will shift from political leadership to economic leadership. If the shift does not happen consciously, it will move from economic leadership to criminalization. A criminal is a businessman. He is driven by personal ambition, but he does not go by the law – that is all the difference is.

Many business people are also not going by the law because the law is ambiguous and it is enforced ad hoc. “Why should I go by the law? I will find some other way to do it.” This culture is setting in. If we do not shift this consciously, naturally, criminals will become leaders. You should not be surprised if people who have proper criminal records become Prime Minister of this country in the next 20 years if we do not do anything about it now.

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