The Christian divide on politics, protests and race — 2 pm today on “Live On with Joyce Davis”

The Christian divide on politics, protests and race — 2 pm today on “Live On with Joyce Davis”

Many churches in our region are politically divided, with congregants split on everything from the …
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It’s time for a new politics

The Times of India has updated its Privacy and Cookie policy. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the better experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the The Times of India website. However, you can change your cookie setting at any time by clicking on our Cookie Policy at any time. You can also see our Privacy Policy Interested in blogging for timesofindia.com? We will be happy to have you on board as a blogger, if you have the knack for writing. Just drop in a mail at toiblogs@timesinternet.in with a brief bio and we will get in touch with you. Wherever you look today, you see politics. There’s politics in academia. There’s politics in the movie business. There’s politics behind the Nobel Prize, which Gandhi didn’t get but Jimmy Carter did. There’s politics among NGOs. The deserving rarely get the Magsaysay; the clever ones do. There’s politics in the bureaucracy. There’s politics behind economic decisions. There’s the politics of poverty and the politics of wealth. And, as we all know, there’s the politics of politics itself. The politics of those who rule us and the politics of those who want to. Without politics, you wouldn’t have conflict. And if you didn’t have conflict, you wouldn’t have democracy either. The democracy we are so proud of today is actually based on the politics of conflict. But if you think the absence of democracy assures you the absence of conflict, you would be wrong. There’s as much, if not more politics in authoritarian regimes as there are in free societies, except you are less likely to see it in the open. The reason for that is simple: Those in power freely bump off their critics. Not that they do not bump people off in democracies. There are as many killings in both. In authoritarian regimes, you don’t discuss killings. In democracies we argue over who is right, the killer or the killed. But nothing stops the killings because the truth is: We love to kill. We love to kill each other for profit or gain. We love to kill other species. Sometimes for food. Most times, for the sheer love of killing. We club seals to death because they make holes in fishing nets. We kill deer because they damage crops. We hunt foxes because it’s fun to do so. In India, you can call any animal ‘vermin’ and kill it. Like nilgais, for instance. Though we bow before Ganesha and Hanuman, we destroy elephant corridors, allow elephants to be poached. Monkeys are killed because they are seen as a nuisance. There are temples raised to rats and snakes where thousands go to pray and, then, promptly go home to kill rats and the odd harmless snake that may have lost its way. We talk of conservation but the tiger and one-horned rhino are openly poached by killers with political patronage. But let’s return to our first question: What is politics? Politics began as the fine art of public discourse, a means of drawing attention and gaining power; the power to lead people towards a better future. Today, it’s no more an art. It’s the science of grabbing and retaining power. To do that, politicians often use the most despicable devices: like fomenting hatred among people, looting, thieving, grabbing what belongs to others. False promises are made; people are misled, told lies, cheated, threatened, punished for all the wrong reasons; shown the chimera of impossible dreams, and exploited with fake narratives of history and religion. Politics is the science of staying in power and having access to the vast money and resources that this provides. Technology is the politician’s cunning ally and social media, its sexy *****. As a kid I remember pictures of Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore on the walls of our home. With the little money my parents had, they bought Tagore’s state-subsidized collected works in 23 volumes. Consulates gifted us books that introduced us to their finest literature. Today, we call this the politics of soft power. But it introduced me to Herman Melville and Walt Whitman on the one hand; Dostoevsky and Maxim Gorki, on the other. It was later, in my youth, that I read Ginsberg telling Americans to go fuck themselves with their atom bomb; I heard of the horrors of Babi Yar from Yevtushenko’s poetry, I read Solzhenitsyn on the Gulag and the inhumanities that happened there. That’s when I realised that the heart of politics lies in opposing the tyranny of power. That’s why I abandoned poetry for journalism, I even went to parliament to try and figure out what politics can do, how it can change India. Those in power today blame Nehru for all our problems. They cannot dare to blame the Mahatma. Not as yet, though the rumblings are there beneath the surface. It’s a battle not between the left and the right wing, as we tend to simplify it. It’s a battle for the soul of India. Do we believe in corrosive hatred and use religion, caste and regional identities to amplify it for political gain? Or do we fight for a more compassionate society where hope rules the hearts of people, not hate? Politics is supposed to be the art of the possible. Yet, during this pandemic, it has failed us on all fronts. We have seen the epilepsy of governance. We have watched millions of lives destroyed by the inaction of those who could have made a difference. Jobs have vanished. Businesses are collapsing. People are dying every day while the government doles out only vague, elusive promises. It is perhaps time to look for another kind of politics. A politics that heals people, brings them together to build a safer, stronger society premised not on fake promises but what we can actually do. 73 years ago we won freedom on the basis of a simple political tool—ahimsa. The art of weaponizing non-violence. It’s time to discover another political tool. The art of choosing governments that actually work. I am not sure whether “choosing governments that actually work” is an art. Anyway, how could it be achieved? With what? The electorate is busy elect… Good point, as it is good to blame politics, but sometimes it is also necessary to blame ourselves regarding our selection of the politics. Interestin…
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Politics this week

Donald Trump marshalled enough Republican votes in the Senate to consider a replacement for Ruth Ba…
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