For a long time I am hearing the arguments like there should be retirement age for politicians; youth should take the place of senior politicians in the higher levels of our august democratic institutions including Parliament, Cabinet etc. Some people are reasoning that senior politicians are the root cause of many of our troubles and young blood is a silver bullet for all the challenges our country faces.
I am yet to find any evidence to support these arguments. I am not saying that youth can’t introduce valuable ideas to governance, certainly they can. But if somebody is saying to me that only youth can commence new ideas and senior politicians are the reason for stagnation and delays then, I am sorry; I have to differ.
India is a very vast and diverse country with one sixth of world’s population; diverse than any other country in the world including China. Now let’s calculate how many years it will take for a person born in an isolated remote village of India to reach the centre stage of power politics in New Delhi. Assume that he/she is not a protégé of any politicians, neither a celebrity nor a business mogul. In this case he/she has to move through village level, block level, district level and state level to reach the highest echelons of power in Delhi. In all the way he/she has to compete with sons/daughters/relatives of politicians, celebrities, business tycoons who often start their political career at a higher platform – directly in Parliament or Assemblies.
Mass leaders are not born in a day; it requires a lifelong dedication to politics. In this situation it is quite natural that by the time he/she reaches New Delhi; he/she often finds white hair and a weaken body in the mirror. At the juncture can we took away his/her right to become PM or Minister only because of age? I don’t think we can. India is not a country where any common man can become president after sitting a few years in senate and a very hard campaign over two years.
Moreover, age often gives you the experience (it may not be true in all cases). An experience to handle the people and a chance to gently implement the ideas accumulated and refined over a long period of time. Now if you are saying that, well your retirement age is over, you can’t become a minister; it’s not only a denial of fundamental human rights but also depriving ourselves from a chance to benefit from their experience. To reach Delhi from the bottom of the pyramid needs a lifelong dedication to politics.
What we can have is a mix of both young and old blood in the administration not the total elimination of the second category.
Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia - Later edited to suite this article