Parties should bring social issues to the front

From an era of identity politics we are moving towards development politics. The experts talk about the crucial role of Bijli/ Sadak/ Pani ( BSP) in many of the state elections. We have a two by two matrix. Leaders who are perceived to be corrupt but deliver on development front like Karunanidhi/ Badal etc. Leaders who are not corrupt but do not provide development benefits like Mamata and leaders who are perceived as corrupt but do not deliver like our Maya/ Lalu etc. The last category is leaders who are perceived to be clean and strive on the development front like Naren Modi/ Nitish Kumar etc. Not only development efforts but law and order are also important phenomena which should not be forgotten.

But beyond a point developmental issues will lead the polity nowhere if it is not accompanied by major social issues.

These social issues can transcend caste and religion.

In the US context in the eighties and early nineties the social issues were brought to the front by Republican party more particularly Reagan Republicans and set an entire new agenda for polity. They have changed the debate and discussions in US polity ever since that time. In India political parties are not known to take up social issues other than standard motherhood/ apple pie type of inanities. In India all parties assume that Government is the solution to all issues without realising that Government can be a problem. One of the major reasons for the current economic crisis in the west is the declining saving habit among households. In other words they have become consumptiondriven economy and all institutions whether government or business or families are highly leveraged or borrowed beyond their means. The main reason for the savings to decline in households is the decline of the family system. More than 50 percent of births took place in the US in 2010 out of wedlock.

In other words single parent families or families to be supported by State have phenomenally increased. In the case of blacks the number of out of marriage births is more than 80 percent.

Family as an institution is crumbling and alternatives have not come about. Concomitant to that is the demand for recognition of same sex marriage/ living together/ pre- nuptial sex etc When family as an institution is crumbling then the ” Sovereignty of the family” is lost. As in the case of the riots in UK last year when thousands of youngsters were on streets there were no voices from parents which could push them back into homes. Actually in UK as it was rightly told by commentators there are more households with TV than with husbands. In the last fifty years the west has created a huge monster called ” right based” society in the name of ” individualism” Given such a situation it is expected that we in India do not traverse the same path. We are also stressing on rights of any number of groups. Rights of women/ rights of animals/ rights of minorities/ rights of disabled/ rights of children/ rights of criminals. But nobody wants to talk of duties. The word ” Dharma” denotes both rights and duties in different contexts.

It is assumed that social/ religious leaders will take care of societal issues and politicians will care about Bijili/ Sadak/ Pani. That may be a simplistic assumption. The time has come for political class to think about far reaching social issues confronting our society. Not all of them can be tackled by Government and many of the social leaders are not able to solve or even talk about them. Whether is female infanticide or old age security or declining family values- it is required for political leaders to take a stand and be counted? Otherwise western funded NGOs are setting social agenda as per western notions.

Most of these western- funded NGOs have agenda- driven activities where agendas are set in the west.

For instance a recent report suggests that in Bangalore alone more than 1500 divorce cases are filed per week and most of it is by couple in the age group of 25- 35 after 3 to 7 years of marriage.

This is a huge social issue but not talked about or discussed by political parties.

Incidentally family values and duty based societies will be supported by various religious groups like Muslims/ Christians and also cut across caste affiliations. Our polity is slowly moving from identity based politics to developmental politics. Time has come to set social issues based agenda along with developmental goals.

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