Perhaps it has never so happened in India that the state of politics has fallen to levels that can only be called repugnant, shameful, and a deterioration in ethics and how political parties address their opponents, fellow politicians, and in many cases even rivals within the same political party.
The sense of the same is evident and seen whether it is any matter that has the potential to gain political momentum, an issue at hand, or even matters related to policies; the manner in which and the way it attracts a dialogue or a debate can only be described as ugly.
A simple yet straight example of the same is to watch any debate or dialogue on any media channel, public rallies, and even interviews, the political rivals while addressing the issue quickly and in evidently turn the topic or matter at hand, not as a debate or an address but into a personal vendetta.
The manner in which these political honchos address each other can only be described as unrespectful for the fellow politician, not a healthy debate but a war of words where the only thing that matters is to be able to silence the opposition not by intelligence but by getting personal and venturing into territories where the issue at hand is forgotten but personal vendetta and the ‘digging of the past” is what matters the most and takes the front seat.
By using inflammatory remarks against each other, our political system today is fraught within. Today politicians indulge in an increasingly derogatory speech against one another; the language is vulgar and very close to violence; if these politicians had a chance, they would perhaps sort out the matter not with a debate but with fists.
This is a dangerous trend and not in the countries interest simply because such hate speeches make societies more likely to experience political violence and terrorism.
As the political leaders themselves indulge in inflammatory speech against one another, it encourages people from various segments of societies to follow suit; it promotes and sets an example for societies to follow in the footsteps of these political leaders and political parties.
If politics is divide and rule, and for one party to gain momentum in any election or otherwise, the best and the most prudent thing to do is divide the people into the lines of religion, caste, and other social barriers. Politics and political parties and their leaders have increasingly been using this strategy to win elections or even to create a specific issue in order to win some political mileage irrespective of whether they are in power or not.
Therefore, the country’s welfare and its citizens’ best interest are covered under the political garb of divide and rule. Segments of societies and people at large are led to falsely believe or believe in an ideology that is twisted and hence constantly pitted against one another – brilliant psychology at play – which is both dangerous and misleading.
Hate speech has increasingly and consistently been fed by and through all social media platforms, rallies, and political addresses. They are increasingly using language and words that do not suit people who are political leaders of this country.
These remarks are not just political theater or innocent rhetoric; they are indeed personal and extremely derogative both for the person who makes such statements and for those towards whom these statements are directed.
Truth be told, our political parties have been for decades now indulging in hateful or questionable techniques, hateful rhetoric targeting each other and even minority groups of society and is an established technique to unify and mobilize local political supporters and also to dehumanize and delegitimize political opponents.
Is this the way and the manner that our so-called political leadership should behave? Is it not both embarrassing and utterly shameful at the level that these political leaders sometimes stoop to and the words that are used, just so they can gain some political mileage or for some screen time?
Hate speech by politicians also has another result, and that is of serving to deepen political polarization. In the past, the interactions between our political leaders were within humane boundaries and mutual respect; however, this is not the case that is at play in the current times.
Violence is a direct by-product of hate speech or dehumanizing statements – the current political environment is nothing short of violence.
Whether it is Rajiv Gandhi or Amit Shah, or any other political leader, almost all barring a few, have recently displayed signs and speech that is an example of the same. An environment prevails in the country that is increasingly becoming tense and uncertain.
Whether it is addressing and calling a fellow politician ‘a terrorist’, ‘anti-national,’ or raising provocative slogans or even making highly sexists remarks such as ‘boys will be boys,’ ‘tunch maal’, ‘rape by 2 men, not gangrape’ and many many such statements show not only the mind and the thought process of political leaders but also the shallowness and disrespect they have for their fellow politicians.
Suppose this is the direction in which the country’s political leaders are headed, and this is the route as to how they choose to address each other and any matter at hand. In that case, this trend is alarming, for it indicates to our younger generation that this environment and the manner in which communication takes place is acceptable. It sets a perilous trend that shows that it is allowed for fellow competitors to resort to mud-slinging, derogative words, and hateful speech and resort to any level just to come out on top.
Perhaps our politicians should go back to school and attend classes that educate the minute and necessary art of rightful and respectful communication. Communication and language that is not dehumanizing and derogative towards any individual, party, or party leaders. The nation and the outcome are both in the hands of these political leaders. For the country to head in the right direction, it is imperative that our political honchos understand that they serve as a mirror to society and the population at large.
Personal responsibility and individual respect for one and all are fundamental for a developed, intelligent, and emotionally healthy society. Our politicians are certainly falling day by day in this fundamental responsibility.