Can any youth in India have a shot at Indian politics just like he can succeed in any business? While there are laws and guidelines that encourage people to take up different professions what do we have things to promote political-social entrepreneurship? What hard and soft infrastructure does India have to produce politicians?
Indian politics is caught in a vicious cycle. It is almost impossible for a common Indian to join politics. The cycle starts with money and ends with money. Here lies the plethora of corruption that we are currently witnessing. In order to fight elections you need at least few crores. Where do you get that money from? A common man does not have the capacity to raise this money hence this becomes the first hurdle. So who fights for elections, people who have lots of money have the best chance, this typically means someone who has earned it from other professions and has white hair does it and the youth gets his chance when he no longer young. He has a chance when he is dried up,dusted and has white hair.
Rich candidates have the deep pockets that can buy those tickets and seats but once they spend crores they want to make a return on their investment, this forms the fundamentals of corruption scams that we are witnessing. They do it not just for themselves but for the careers of coming generations. They have incentive not to work for people but to raise money that they can reinvest to fight the elections and to lead a lavish life if they do not die in office, which seldom happens since they continue to be in politics right till their 80s and 90s. This cycle continues. Most often people who have been in politics pass on popular support and money to their children. This has lead to the treacherous dynastic politics in India.
Dynastic politics is not surprising since it is not unnatural for a child to pick up his or her parent’s professions; there is a culture within the family that promotes this. This happens in business as well. Indian Business families like political families are known to give leadership opportunities to their children who become Managing directors at young ages. However we live with this fact and hardly complain. There is a underlying reason for our acceptance.The answer lies in entrepreneurship. If we feel we are smart enough we can become their competitors, we can create our own businesses. Entrepreneurship gives us the chance to be an Ambani or a Tata. Frameworks and policies, foundations, bank loans, venture capital help fund to create value and make young dreams possible. At 21 or rather much earlier you can realize your dream to become a CEO. Much of India’s growth stories are stories of such entrepreneurs. But how about political entrepreneurship is it possible to be an Ambani or a Tata of politics when the entry barriers are so high, how does one start up, how does one compete with established players who have money and power to their advantage.
One way would be to start up from the grassroots just as you do in a business venture, work your way up the corporate ladder. This is a fine argument. The problem lies in the financing of campaign; if you are honest and unelected there is virtually no way to earn money. There are no economic returns only social returns one that can have wide economic returns for the entire economy by those incremental everyday actions. There is no venture capital for political campaigns, all the special interest money goes to people who already have the influence, and it is not ideas that rule as they do in the entrepreneurial world. This calls for electoral reforms that limit the use of money and have a fight based on ideas. There is a need to have a level playing field where money does not become the sole deciding factor. There is a role for the government, political parties and civil society to play. We need to develop a frame work and an incentive system for young people to join politics. It must be looked more rationally than with the lens of sacrifices. Youth need to be given special scholarships to work in politics, it needs to be looked upon favorably and not as a dirty word. Parents need to encourage kids to form informed opinion of developmental priorities rather than to dismiss political ambitions “as only for thugs or rich”. Non profits need to encourage debate and provide grants for the young. Foundations need to have this in their portfolios. We cannot let youth wait until we get to our 60s and 70s. As we age our risk taking ability decreases, we become conformists, the idealism erodes, our responsibilities multiply, and we become advisors rather than game changers. Today’s glimmers of hope will extinguish if we do not protect and provide the fire within, with the right set of favorable conditions both by policy and private initiatives.
How do young people view politics is of crucial importance to India. We need to make sure we train and make youth understand politics, the business world provides opportunities of paid internships which help young understand the nuances of industries, how about politics? How do we create a public culture of political internships that are widely publicized and competed?
Talent in governance system comes from professionals only in advisory roles and not in mainstream politics; the youth wants a balance good life and a right life.People with nation building aspirations need to be provided basic necessities and an environment free from violence. The brightest Indians take up consulting rather than policy making which is left at the hands of uneducated leaders. This needs to change, since Indian talent is a global commodity, this expertise is now up for exports. If we do not change we would lose out on talent to other nations as we have been doing in the past. The educated youth in India is extremely sought after for its superb analytical and language skills .They are welcome in almost every country. These are hard choices the India youth has to make to live in India or to leave India. This will not be governed by patriotism alone since in the face of globalization all that matters is the availability of opportunities. Are we ready to give the youth an opportunity or maintain the status quo of corrupt politicians is for the nation to decide?