In Defense of Politics and Politicians

While Politicians can be punished for non-performance by the electorate, other sectors have no accountability.

While Politicians can be punished for non-performance by the electorate, other sectors have no accountability.
While Politicians can be punished for non-performance by the electorate, other sectors have no accountability.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]W[/dropcap]hich is the most accountable profession in India? If an aam aadmi or an elite is asked to respond to this question, politics indeed will never cross their mind. But contrary to public perception, politics and politicians are far more accountable in our country than any other profession. A critical and impartial analysis of corporate sector, judiciary, media, NGO’s, social sector and sports associations will reveal that elections and Right to Information (RTI) has the political establishment on their toes while other professionals get a free ride.

Non performing governments at the Center, Maharashtra, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Assam and Kerala have been replaced in the last five years. Can the same be said of Corporate India? It is impossible to replace a non performing Chief Executive Officer in any of the listed companies. Or take the case of 2-G scam. The central figure in the scam, then telecom minister, was forced to resign from his job, was in prison for more than a year and lost his Member of Parliament status after losing in the last general election. On the other hand, corporate executives were in prison for less than a couple of months before they were granted bail. Currently, all of them have a plum and cushy jobs including being Chief Executive Officers and Directors in board rooms.

Indian Banking system Non Performing Loans are much discussed, but no one has yet been made accountable for the fiasco. Neither lenders who are mostly private and public sector banks nor borrowers who are mostly large Indian corporations have paid a price for wreck less lending and borrowing.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]J[/dropcap]udiciary, a pillar of democracy, of late has come under fire for delayed justice and an opaque selection process. Hence the first bill introduced by the new government on assuming office was the “Judicial Standards and Accountability” legislation. The bill received unanimous support from all political parties but was rejected as unconstitutional by judges themselves.  More recently Justice Chelameswar opted out of the collegium by refusing to participate in meetings while demanding transparency in appointment of High Court and Supreme Court Judges.

And there is nothing to write home about the other pillar of democracy-the fourth estate. Indian Media is fraught with ethical lapses and poor judgments. Paid news is rampant for which no one has yet been punished. All journalists in the infamous Nira Radia tapes brushed aside allegations of impropriety. Most news organizations they represent chose to look the other way and never even bothered to publicly rebuke them for their so called professional transgressions.

Are NGO’s and Civil Society groups transparent and accountable? Everything about them is hidden – hidden agenda, hidden fund raising methods and hidden financial statements. According to Government of India, there are more than three million such entities and most of them do not disclose their funding source. Many are riddled with conflicts of interest, misuse donors and taxpayers funds for unrelated activities.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]O[/dropcap]ur social sector institutions – Education and Health Care- have failed our society and are the primary reason for India’s low ranking on Human Development Index. Despite a ban by Supreme Court, Capitation fee continues to be collected by Professional Colleges. Unfortunately the practice has now spread to primary education. And the education sector has become one of the hotbeds for generating black money.

Renowned cardiologist Mr. Devi Shetty argued in a business congregation that medical profession today competes with politics for being deemed the most corrupt profession. And to prove his hypothesis, a television channel exposed the nefarious nexus between doctors and pharmaceutical companies where in medical representatives were caught bribing Doctors to prescribe branded drugs when generics are available in the market. In 2010, the then President of Medical Council of India was arrested by CBI on bribery charges.

Finally, Sporting Federations are renegades and are rarely accountable to either the Sports Ministry or to the public at large. Most of them select team members who represent India on various athletic meets and team events across the globe and hence were deemed public servants in a Supreme Court judgment. But rarely do they serve the public cause or work towards brining athletic pride to the country. All of them are self-serving autocratic bodies that are accountable to no one.

Democracy makes it possible for the political establishment to be held accountable. Elections every five years allows people to weed out the corrupt and non-performing politicians. And RTI is enhancing transparency in politics and government organizations than ever before. It has also been a fantastic tool in strengthening the hands of prosecutors and public litigants to punish the guilty and imprison them.

No doubt that there is a lot that needs to be improved in our political process especially to evolve a transparent method to fund elections and distribute tickets. But rather than blaming politics and politicians for all ills of society, India’s governance cause will be best served if other professionals make efforts to improve transparency and accountability in their respective professions.

N. V. Krishnakumar is an investor and ardent follower of economic and political developments in India and United States. After graduating from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service with a Masters in Public Finance and Policy, he returned to his hometown of Bengaluru. He is active politically and engages in civic activities.

He tweets at @envyk_blr.
N V Krishnakumar


  1. Nicely summarized article.
    I have always held that while the legislative is targeted for every wrong in the country all other pillars and allied organizations go scot free without accountability.
    Thus while a politician may make money on the sly for five years , looking over his shoulders and if he is lucky others can exploit, corrupt, misuse, overuse the system till retirement and beyond.


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