When Facebook was first launched, unlike today everyone was very excited about it. People used to fill out every single detail about them in the profile section. But the common response in the section “Political Views” was always “Not Interested”. The reasons behind this response were, “politics is boring or not cool enough.”
Even though our Facebook profile may still have the same response, we can’t say the same for ourselves. We may identify ourselves as “apolitical”. But in this social media ecosystem, we all are getting exposed to political news and opinions. Even if we are not aware, political news, mixed with our prejudices, is influencing us.
On the opposite of apolitical, there are people with extreme views. These people are following one ideology, forgetting that they are citizens too. The binary of choosing two extremes is a trap. So is there any impartial way to form our political opinions?
There is no step-by-step process to form a political opinion. But let’s try to frame some ground rules. We need to consider them before forming an informed, unbiased political opinion. So let’s get into it.
Why does it matter to have a political opinion?
It is already common knowledge that people generally avoid getting political. One reason for that is our attitude of “avoiding conflicts”. Getting Political means you may need to take sides and defend it. In this process of defending you may hurt the sentiments of people.
The other issue with getting political is you need to have an informed opinion. You need to study and research the topic of conflict. This is a heavy task for many so they avoid getting political.
Some people argue that they can make a difference in the world without getting into politics. But it is not completely true. It is well known that whatever you do, that thing will have a political aspect to it. For this, you have to dive deep into the understanding of that cryptic legal language.
The most popular example is the entrepreneur Elon Musk. He has served in the business advisory council. He later left the council. Because the position of Trump and Musk on the environmental crisis was different.
If someone asks “what difference does it make if I never get political?” it is like saying that “what if I never learn to speak any language (not even sign language)?”
Politics is the way by which we citizens communicate with people in power. Our vote not only decides who is going to get elected. But also makes a statement that we reject the policies of the previous ones.
Politics decide every aspect of our lives. So not getting political can cost us our fundamental rights. Economic opportunities. A safe and healthy environment to live, and a life with dignity and liberty.
How do we choose our politics?
It is pretty clear now why politics is necessary for us but how to choose our politics? Because if we do not choose our politics then the politics will choose us. This is what we are witnessing now: a lack of political awareness. This is giving politicians an upper hand over the citizens.
So, for the sake of understanding, we can classify politics into two types. First is “politics of people” and another is “politics for people”, now let’s try to understand it.
- Politics of people
It is the kind of politics in which politicians play politics based on demography. The most popular markers of that are Religion and Caste. People tend to get attached to their identity and feel proud of it. It is not a bad thing. But when the greatness of one’s identity becomes attached to degrading the identity of others. Then it becomes harmful to the peace of society.
The whole Hindu versus Muslim debate is nothing but a bogus narrative. It says that the identity of Hindus is in danger and the primary reason for that is the existence of Muslims. It is irrational and ridiculous to believe. But in 2015 it started with the mob lynching of Muslims who were allegedly carrying beef. Now in 2022, people are celebrating the remission of rape and murder convicts because the victim is a Muslim.
Does this mean all identity politics is bad? It will be wrong to say that. India is a diverse country. So it is very important to give proper representation to everyone. Especially to the people of various minority religions and backward castes and communities.
Social justice is important to correct historical errors. As India has a long history of atrocities in the name of identity. But it is still prevailing in both the system and society.
Identity is important for people and they should feel proud of that. But people should know the difference. When someone is working towards the welfare of their community. And when they are using their sentiments to fuel hate for their electoral agenda.
- 2. Politics for people
This is the boring kind of politics people run away from but it is the most important one. In India, a government stays in power for 5 years. At the time they need to work towards the development of the nation. Even though they have come into power based on identity politics. People need food and jobs. And they cannot compensate for it with praises of the culture of their community.
The basic facilities like education, health, roads, and employment. Law and order, infrastructure, ease of doing business, etc. all fall into this category. No matter what your identity, these things affect everyone. For example, rising inflation is a matter of concern and everyone is suffering because of it.
When you look around, you will not find these issues trending. Because it demands answers from the politicians and questions from the citizens. It seems both sides are not interested in doing this which is harmful to everyone.
But now politics of identity and the hate it brings is dominating the political sphere. So citizens should bring the debate on track and talk about the things that matter to everyone.
So, can there ever be a perfect political opinion? And the answer is No. New political parties, faces, and ideologies come with time. Needs of every time are also different.
Like in the 1900s, the Industrial Revolution was necessary. But now the protection of the Environment should be in focus. So we have to upgrade our opinions too.
We are living in a democratic country. It does not work in the way that it is there now so it will be there forever. There will always be some forces present that want to disrupt this system. It may fool you into believing that they are bringing glory to the past. But it will give you only a nation of tyranny.
This is no warning for a dystopian future. We can look around the world and can witness countries. Some are in a state of civil war or others are in total dictatorships.
So, yes politics can be boring and complex to understand. But we must take part and educate others. Form opinions with factual backing only. This small step can safeguard our present and the future of the coming ones.