Great question -
I’m curious as to what your take on getting involved in politics is. For as long as I’ve been reading your blog, I’ve never seen you directly mention the subject, but many of the topics you touch on would be things anyone interested in statecraft would do well to master.
The way I see this, and I guess it is just part of my personality, is that it would be an all or nothing sort of deal. Either you get seriously involved or you stop paying close attention. It has really been wearing on my sanity to be knowledgeable on the subject but do nothing about it.
[...personal details about local government problems removed...]
Current situation aside, how do you feel about entering the public arena in general? Does the mask you have to wear to be allowed to play the game eventually corrupt? (I say mask in relation to your post about how as soon as you are addressing a large group of people your depth of connection has to shrink) Is it so hopeless and/or soul-sucking that I instead should just give money to somebody to fight for me?
Curious what you think.
Thanks for your time,
Yes, I study statecraft. History, economics, law, governance, policing, commerce, regulation, warfare, organization, bureaucracy, leadership, speaking, communication, decisionmaking, statistics, probability, ecology, health and epidemiology, secondary effects, education, development and planning, things like that.
I dig that stuff. I read as much on it as I can.
But we need to draw a distinction. Those topics are governance-related, not politics-related.
My feeling is this - governance is a very positive thing, good to study, and good for the world. Good governance is one of the things of primary importance to the world.
Politics, on the other hand, is at best non-destructive. Politics can not be good. Politics has never been good, can never be good, and won't be good.
Politics is trading favors, appealing to various factions for votes, politicking and cutting deals and things like that.
The best you can hope for, in politics, is that it doesn't overwhelm and destroy your government. Which it has, many times.
Politics creates all kind of unholy alliances. Politics means that Group A support subsidies for Destructive Activity B, so that Group B agrees to create regulations that break the back of all of Group A's competitors. In a system of governance without this political wheeling and dealing, Group A would naturally be opposed to subsidizing Destructive Activity B (for instance, ethanol/corn subsidies in America), and Group B would be opposed to choking off all of Group A's competition (for instance, regulation that gives exclusive local infrastructure rights to one company, and bars competitors).
Politics typically results in terrible governance.
Anyways, five points basically here -
1. I’m curious as to what your take on getting involved in politics is... many of the topics you touch on would be things anyone interested in statecraft would do well to master.
You sound to me like you're interested in what I call "governance" (what you call "statecraft"), and like you're not interested in politics. I feel the same way. I believe in governance, but politics more or less turns me off. There's ways to affect and improve governance without getting involved in politics though.
2. It has really been wearing on my sanity to be knowledgeable on the subject but do nothing about it.
There are things you can do to improve governance without politics. Well, not entirely without politics, even the most basic of human interactions includes some minor political component. But you can largely focus on governance and improving it with minimal politics.
3. Current situation aside, how do you feel about entering the public arena in general?
I applied to be a reserve officer for the LAPD in 2009 - that's a role that volunteers and gets police training and supports the police force in an auxiliary role regularly, and is called on if emergencies strike. My application was turned down, sadly, but I do believe in public service absolutely. In any semi-sane area, the police are mostly apolitical and that's a way to affect governance, for instance. I've been doing casual research into counter-insurgency for a while, and if I can help develop counter-insurgencies techniques to help protect civilians and servicemen from crime and terrorism, I will.
My profile is generally rising in the world right now, I've been meeting a lot of people and getting recruited for a lot of things. This is all in business these days, but if I was called on to improve the governance of a nation or area that I had respect and loyalty to, I would. In fact, it's one of the things I aim to do with my life.
But I don't see myself as a politician. Advisor, researcher, administrator, negotiator, manager, officer - I'd serve in one of those roles if I was called on. But I don't think my skillset is well-suited for running for a political office.
4. Does the mask you have to wear to be allowed to play the game eventually corrupt?
No and yes. The "mask" - having a public persona that differs from your private persona - is part of doing anything publicly. For instance, as a general rule, you should never show fatigue or illness or doubt if you're in a position of leadership or command. But that doesn't corrupt you, that's just part of how things are.
What does corrupt you is that you have to make deals that you know are wrong. "He who pays the piper calls the tune" - well, he who pays the politician calls the tune.
For instance, no one sane could support corn/ethanol subsidies on the basis of governance. It's just a terribly bad idea that increases pollution, shifts what gets produced agriculturally in America to worse stuff due to incentives, and then we wind up with corn and corn syrup in god damn everything we eat which makes people fat and obese and unhealthy.
But, the beneficiaries of corn/ethanol subsidies tend to be clustered in Republican/Midwestern states. The Republicans can't well attack and alienate their own base. And the Democrats don't want to get into an austerity war, since their supporters generally get a much larger share of subsidies and benefits than Republicans.
The problem is, people need to rationalize to feel good about themselves. A Senator can't well say, "Yeah, corn subsidies are destructive to America, but I have to back them for political reasons" - he can't say that, he has to talk about... I don't know, the tradition of farmers in America and how important they are. Or some nonsense like that (there's no independent farmers any more anyways, it's all large farming conglomerates, some of them running land at a loss in order to pick up subsidies - crazy). So the Senator has to keep going to bat for stuff he doesn't believe in, which destroys his will. It's not being unable to show his true feelings that breaks him - we all have an external persona to some extent, and you can survive that - but instead being forced to repeatedly speak against his true feelings that breaks him.
(In case anyone's wondering what I'd do with farm subsidies if it was up to me, I'd write a check for 10 years worth of subsidies right now and then discontinue them forever afterwards.)
5. Is it so hopeless and/or soul-sucking that I instead should just give money to somebody to fight for me?
Okay, I shouldn't laugh. But I'll refer you to one of the most important works of political science in history -
These arms [of mercenaries] may be useful and good in themselves, but for him who calls them in they are always disadvantageous; for losing, one is undone, and winning, one is their captive. [...]
I conclude, therefore, that no principality is secure without having its own forces; on the contrary, it is entirely dependent on good fortune, not having the valour which in adversity would defend it. And it has always been the opinion and judgment of wise men that nothing can be so uncertain or unstable as fame or power not founded on its own strength. And one's own forces are those which are composed either of subjects, citizens, or dependants; all others are mercenaries or auxiliaries.
- "The Prince, Chapter XIII: Concerning Auxiliaries, Mixed Soldiery, And One's Own" - Nicolo Machiavelli
That's one of the most important lines in The Prince. "[Using mercenaries is] always disadvantageous; for losing, one is undone, and winning, one is their captive."
When you pay someone to fight for you (or politick for you, or otherwise get you what you want), then either you lose when they lose, or you're bound to keep paying them forever. That's how we wind up with as screwed up governance as we do, the long tangled web of money and favors.
And you can't really dependent on mercenaries - they turn on you if it's opportune. Or they retire, and their successor decides that your interests aren't as important to his political base as some rival faction, and he chooses them. "It has always been the opinion and judgment of wise men that nothing can be so uncertain or unstable as fame or power not founded on its own strength."
Beware paying people to fight for your interests. It's... incredibly unreliable.
No, it sounds to me like you've got the will to make a difference, but you don't really have the stomach for politics. Maybe you will later - the more the years pass, the less idealistic and more pragmatic I become. Perhaps later you could make the requisite devil's bargains in order to reach power, but it sounds to me like you don't have the stomach for it right now.
So instead, focus on improving your skill at governance, and make yourself useful to those who are in charge. If you're serious about making a difference in your community, start by trying to reach relatively low-ranked politicians who are already favorable to your general position. Research the politician and his causes, understand what matters to him, and go in and present yourself as favorable, appreciative, and willing to serve.
I would say, take a position of 50% admiration, 40% desiring to learn a little bit from him or her, and 10% sharing an observation or valuable piece of information. If you can bring him an interesting report, set of facts, book with important passages underlined... something like that. But again, 90% interested in what he or she is already doing - admiration and curiosity.
If it makes sense, then present your findings and how you can help. Try to make this apolitical as much as you can - you don't want to turn "political mode" on. Just like with a tough negotiator, you don't want to flip their competitive instinct; with a savvy politician, you don't want to turn political mode on. If so, you'll be getting schmoozed and promises made and platitudes. Whereas if you want to actually affect governance, it seems like it'd be better to get the honest perspective and feelings of whoever you're meeting.
So 90% admiration, but don't promise votes or money or anything like that. You'd be way out of your league anyways, since it sounds like you don't have much experience in the political game (yet). Instead, focus on the causes the person cares about, and try to make yourself use from a governing perspective in those causes.
Don't ask for anything. Don't promise anything. Just admire, ask good questions, and offer a bit of service.
You can do this in person or via writing letters, probably a mix of them would serve you well. Treat everyone in the person's office well. Then expand from there - it's kind of a funny thing, being acknowledged as an expert is one of the things that makes you an expert. If a number of politicians keep your counsel, then your counsel starts to be seen as expert and valuable.
Of course, you need to actually have some skill and chops in whatever form of governance matters to you, but you sound like an intelligent and motivated person to me, so it shouldn't be too hard to acquire the skill and knowledge. And the more your counsel is taken, the more people become willing and excited to teach you and expand. It's truly a virtuous cycle - if your counsel is seen as valuable, then others want to teach you to make your counsel even more valuable.
Note that none of this process is particularly fast. Like anything in life, building the strength and ability and resources and connections to do large meaningful work takes a while. Just like you ought to be skeptical of anyone who promises instant results with a diet, huge returns with no risk in investing, or instant success in entrepreneurship without hard work - likewise you should be skeptical of someone who promises to make great changes on your behalf in governance or politics.
To truly shape the course of human affairs, it takes time to hone your skill and knowledge, and to demonstrate your ability and usefulness to those who currently have say on how things are.
But it sounds to me like you could do it - very good questions, and thanks for reaching out.
If you have experience in politics and/or governance, please comment on this article or email me. Anonymous commenting is fine. I'd love to hear more about what you think, your analysis of C's question and my response, and to generally learn more on this. Thank you.
Interesting post, as always. I am also interested in improving governance without becoming an elected politician. You talk at the end about the importance of honing skills and knowledge that are useful to politicians. What do you think are the skills that are most under-appreciated? At the moment I am focusing on statistics and the programming needed to support it because I think that most people undervalue data and what can be drawn from it relative to opinions. What do you think I, or anyone else interested in the field, should focus on next?
I would write you an e-mail but this post is good occasion.
I'm rereading a good book on the subject of strategy ang governance I wish to recommend it to you. You can look at it in the link - A treatise on efficacy: between Western and Chinese thinking by François Jullien. The book is so good because makes a comparison between western and chinese thinking and shows the differences. I promise you it will change your perspective.
I've got to be honest with you - I don't really like politics anyways. Governance, I like governance. I believe in good governance. But I don't believe in good politics - in fact, I don't even think there is such a thing as good politics. Politics can certainly be bad or stupid or destructive, but almost never good. Diplomacy can be good. Governance can be good. Politics can at best strive not to be bad, stupid, and destructive; it can't ever be good.
Yet, sometimes I'll see a discussion on some outpost of the internet that I visit, and then I might be tempted to jump in. From now on, new policy - no trying to persuade anyone of my politics. Instead, I'll look to share some historical background or references I've read or learned about that I find valuable, and let people mostly draw their own conclusions. Maybe I'll share my own views if I've already given a number of relevant examples.
But no more just trying to convince someone their politics are mistaken - it doesn't work, and besides, I don't like politics anyways. I should talk governance with people with historical examples, not politics. Governance is good. That's something I can get behind, good governance. Politics, not so much.
You, Me and the Future of Governance in the World's Biggest DemocracyNational security. International relations. Economic growth. Reduction of poverty. Political stability. Political engagement. Public services. Private sector. Rights of the people. Corruption of their representatives. Faith based politics. Secularization. Majority politics. Coalition politics. Manipulation of voters. Promiscuous manifestos. Affirmative action. By some people, of not all people, and if recent history is anything to go by, then surely not always for the people. How political are you?
We are all political in one way or another. We have opinions and ideas about how to govern our own lives. We have our own personal manifestos. We surely care about our own safety and, to a large extent, the safety of our loved ones. We are concerned as much about accumulating wealth as we are about reducing the poverty of our families. We strive hard to bring stability to our relationships and engage in debate and deliberation with our friends and relatives. As much as we believe in ourselves, we still partner with others to reach our goals. Those who have worked or are working in offices will surely understand the complex milieu of human interactions that we call "office politics". So then, governance of a nation isn't all that different from governance of our own private lives. This is because most of us have a sense of direction, goals and motivations in some form or another. All this makes us natural politicians. Of course to be an elected member of a party, one must showcase certain qualities such as the ability to speak clearly in public; qualities that need not be shared by all of us. If we assume, however, that such special qualities are not that rare as to be deemed extraordinary or can be learned as part of a general all-round education, then we have to ask ourselves why most of us do not consider a life in politics of the nation or of nation building.Why do we shun a career in national politics? Why do we not care? The answer cannot be the lack of skills because it is the same set of skills we use to succeed in careers ranging from teaching to entrepreneurship, from media to corporate management. The skills of a leader, of a communicator, of a teacher, are those that can be replicated in any domain. So then we can have vision, we can be reflective, we can be communicative, we can have a sense of right and wrong, we can have a determination to challenge the status quo, we can be progressive in thought and in action, wecan be leaders. What else, if not this possibility, can explain the success and progress we have witnessed so far - the economic growth driven by the entrepreneurial spirit? For if these skills were a super-rarity, we would've struggled to make progress with our lives be it in any field.There may be more plausible reasons, than the lack of skills, that can explain our disinterest with politics over and above the personal level. One regularly cited reason is the corruption that is endemic to politics in particular and to governance and power in general. Lord Acton remarked: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Another reason for our general distaste for politics may be connected, in one way or another, to incentive structures when compared to alternative career choices. Students these days regularly check the average pay of graduates post graduation in a given subject before they take a decision. Then comparison will boil down to purely what one gets from a banking job relative to what one must make do with in a Government job - this discrepancy can be one of many reasons for corruption, taking us back to our first point. A third point that can shed some light on how we look at politics may be connected to the attitudes of the ever-growing middle-class in India, destined to become the most economically dynamic and powerful group of consumers in the world. The attitudes of such a significant and influential group will unexceptionably have a deep impact on the national zeitgeist. Let us consider some of these points.Can endemic corruption be an eternal deterrent to political participation? I argue that it cannot be. Since our point here is implicitly making a relative valuation between politics and private sector employment, then let us consider the level of corruption and unethical behavior outside of politics. Only then can we make a fair judgment. By now you must already have an idea where I'm getting to. The private sector is awash with corruption and unethical behavior; as much as in politics if not more. To use a few well known examples, consider the Enron scandal: boosted profits and hid debts totaling over $1 billion by improperly using off-the-books partnerships; manipulated the Texas power market; bribed foreign governments to win contracts abroad; manipulated California energy market. Related to the above scandal, consider the story of the well known accounting firm, Arthur Andersen: shredding documents related to audit client Enron after the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission of America) launched an inquiry into Enron. On June 15th, 2002, Andersen was convicted of obstruction of justice for shredding documents related to its audit of Enron, resulting in the Enron scandal. Nancy Temple (Andersen Legal Dept.) and David Duncan (Lead Partner for the Enron account) were cited as the responsible managers in this scandal as they had given the order to shred relevant documents. Since the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission does not allow convicted felons to audit public companies, the firm agreed to surrender its licenses and its right to practice before the SEC on August 31, 2002. This effectively ended the company's operations.The list can be very long if we take a closer look at practices of many well known brands. This, however, is not an argument against the idea of free enterprise or a reason to undermine the importance of business in society.Unethical behavior and greed can be traced to every corner of private enterprise whether it is software companies, pharmaceutical companies or in financial services. It must be stated that unethical behavior in the private sector takes place in spite of plum salaries and fat bonuses. Then it cannot be due to poor working environment or insufficient pay checks or lack of opportunities. It is clear that corruption and unethical behavior can and will continue in some form or another as long as we remain human. So then those who talk about political corruption are only telling half a story. But hey, the pay in private sector is much more than in public sector, so, what the hell! What does that tell us about our choices? If we decide to choose a higher paying job in private sector (based on the argument that corruption and dirty deals deter us from politics) that is as susceptible to corruption and unethical behavior as politics, then it is sanctimonious, philistine and disgraceful on our part to condemn corruption in one part of organized society and turn a blind eye in another part where the personal pay-offs to us might be greater. I suppose then it is difficult to make a person understand that corruption is obviously possible even outside of politics when his or her pay-check depends on not understanding it. Difficult but not impossible.The second point is about incentives. Is there an incentive to working in politics? What counts as incentives to you? There is no running away from the fact that there is a huge difference in income between working in politics and working in private sector. Is it possible to have another perspective on incentives? Let us take a quick look at some of the impact that good politics and good policies can have. India, as we speak, is thrusting ahead, breaking barriers, and looking to become the center of the world. Policies that were ignited 16 years ago is having clear impact now. We embarked on an economic reform in 1991 and since then we have transformed ourselves from an agrarian and closed economy to an open and a progressive one. The benefits have reached a broad constituency. Since 1985, India has lifted more than 100 million out of desperate poverty, both in urban centers and the hinterlands alike. We laid the foundation for broader economic growth in an environment that was more conducive to foreign investment so that we positioned ourselves to draw more wealth from services and industry. In the last four years, the average GDP has been 8.6% and the planners expect it to grow by an average of 9% through to 2012. India now boasts an impressive and vibrant private sector in automotive, IT, manufacturing and pharma. The stars of Indian industry are now capable of foreign acquisitions like Tata Steel's $11billon takeover of its Anglo-Dutch rival Corus. These are just a few examples of what right policies can do. Are these not incentives? The policies that are put in place have significant impact even on the health of the private sector. For free enterprise to thrive, it needs a supportive environment. That is the role of the government. The government is run by people's representatives.This is not saying that it is all done. India still faces significant challenges. A significant segment of the population is still deprived. There are challenges in power distribution, water supply, sustainable agriculture, and massive challenges in the provision of world class infrastructure such as proper roadways, railways, bridges, dams, airports, seaports and container terminals and much needed urban regeneration in overflowing cities such as Mumbai and Delhi. There are more challenges in dealing with "softer" infrastructure such as education in general and schools in particular, health care and hospitals. Discouraging infant mortality rates and alarming levels of illiteracy are just a few examples of gross shortfalls that we need to deal with quickly. To add to this, we need to maintain a thriving and vibrant labor market. To accomplish these goals, we need in place a series of socio-economic reforms guided by strong policies backed by stronger political will. The incentive structures here are different and yet can be much grander. In which other field can you expect to have the largest impact on the largest numbers? Much remains to be done about the exact running of the Government machinery, about the productivity and efficiency and its reputation and goodwill. It requires a different kind of reform within itself. This requires leadership and vision.Third point is about the attitudes of the burgeoning middle class. I suppose the issue about incentives too is, in many ways, part of our attitudes. The middle class in India is growing stronger and stronger economically but at the same time they are also becoming more apathetic towards politics. There was a time when the middle class played a crucial role in Indian politics leading to the eventual independence and the writing of the Indian constitution. Power in India was not always concentrated in traditional landed elites, but in the old middle class—educated, professional and, of course, from across various religions. Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, represented this class. Although rich enough to have studied at Harrow and Cambridge, he did this on the money made by his lawyer father rather than revenue from inherited land. So did the deputy prime minister, Vallabhbhai Patel, from a mercantile community; successive presidents of India—Rajendra Prasad, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Zakir Hussain (the first of three Muslim presidents)—were all middle-class intellectuals. Even the great BR Ambedkar, who rose from the poverty of a Dalit family to be the leading author of the Indian constitution, created a middle-class background for himself by becoming a lawyer. Their efforts have had direct impact on the lives of millions and set the scene for the rise of the modern Indian middle class. What we can now observe, however, is a growing distaste for political participation, whether be it voting or direct participation in party politics. It is obvious that many issues in hand such as micro credit, and the amount of money ploughed back into rural regeneration and agriculture need not touch a middle class nerve. How about the unpredictable supply of electricity? Urban infrastructure? Tax regimes and exchange rates? Politics influences policies which in turn have wide ranging impact across the whole spectrum of the society. Still the middle class is slowly backing out. Politics is now frowned upon and the rights are taken for granted. The general neglect comes from the surety of the middle class success; their belief in self-upliftment. Many do not acknowledge the services of the state and many do not even bother to form an opinion on the role of the government and this culture is fast spreading - people, especially the younger generation, are now, in general, politically apathetic.The $1-$5-a-day crowd still remains the most politically active segment and for obvious reasons. They know that it is their lives that are most likely to be impacted by the policies of their elected representatives. Decent schools, crime-free neighborhood, clean water supply, adequate health care and the supply of other basic amenities matter to this segment the most. These are areas where the government can and should intervene to bring about change and progress. After all, investment in health care in Tamil Nadu, education in Kerala, roads in Maharashtra, targeted agricultural relief in West Bengal have all helped the working poor, and political parties that have delivered have thrived over several electoral cycles.Political activity can have different faces with different colors. Voting is one thing but being voted for is another. The general indifference of the middle class to political participation does not spell good news down the line. We need the young, intelligent, and the educated to take more active role in national and domestic governance. The public governance arena must attract talent and to do so it must clearly distinguish between higher and lower performers. Public administration and politics should compete for talent with other sectors. Part of the this solution is in the hands of the current administrations and the other half is in the hands of the growing young middle class. Today, IT professionals tend to contribute to their corporate charity bag and thereby boosting corporate philanthropy. They believe this is a more reliable way to make a difference. It may indeed make a difference. However, philanthropy is no substitute for good and able public governance. To have a sustainable impact on the lives of people and the future of the country, we need visionary leadership willing to make hard choices and bring about the right policies that create an environment suitable and conducive to growth and prosperity. This cannot be achieved by merely contributing to corporate philanthropy.It is not hard, with a few minutes of reflection, to imagine the consequences of our indifference. Over the last many decades, one of the predominant characteristic of the Indian scene has been the continuing rise of communalism; the compartmentalization of identities; the drawing of new horizons of narrow cultural frontiers. This can probably be traced back to Indira's Emergency. We have come a long way in terms of economic progress since the License Raj. However, even now, we still see politics being played with communal cards; efforts to ghettoize different parts of the country. Election manifestos can conveniently avoid discussion of the more immediate social needs such as education and health care or stressing on reform initiatives in the agriculture sector. India has the world's largest school-age population. These are the children on whom we depend to drive innovation, productivity and development to ensure India's sustained progress. Only 60 per cent of Indians are literate which shows that the state governments, by and large, have done a poor job of providing quality education. Another issue that is central to the education debate is the supply of skilled and inspiring teachers. Teacher absenteeism and their basic qualifications remain a serious challenge to the development of a sound education system. To add to these issues, our education system is neck-deep in affirmative action; even recently, the number of reserved seats for medicine was increased leaving fewer places that can be awarded on merit to students who deserve it. Such decisions are driven, overwhelmingly, in fear of losing valuable votes of the so-called "marginalized". Clearly there are other ways to make sure higher participation in education and we need to base our system on merit. This is and will continue to remain an urgent issue to be resolved by courageous leadership. India accounts as the world's third largest HIV/AIDS infected population, infant mortality rates remain twice as high as that of China, clean water and sanitation remain out of reach more millions. Yet public spending on health care remains less than 1 per cent of GDP. The rural areas need to be educated not just on education and health care opportunities but also on how best they can utilize wastelands, for example, to cultivate it with crops such as eucalyptus trees and jatropha, which have global markets and can be grown economically on relatively unproductive land. It is clear that many of our "representative" parties have promiscuous agendas and, I hope, we can all agree that the tactic of purposefully creating schisms between different communities or between different levels of the economic order must stop.No, I do not intend to say that all politics today is a grim business. We do have intelligent and visionary leaders even now. However, coalition politics turns policy making into a tea-party where people sit around and make "polite" conversations; a situation where the Prime Minister has to think of the survival of his coalition rule before the basic needs of the people. More can and must be done in terms of educating the masses about the priorities, about the give and take of economic policy making. New political parties need to take shape whose agenda remain strictly secular, the idea and ethic on which India was born, and progress oriented, driven by a much younger, intelligent, energetic, reflective, passionate, optimistic and most importantly communicative bunch.Where is the oomph from the young middle class, which made all the difference in the past? We are the first to form complaints (remember your looks of disgust, your disparaging and inimical remarks, your it-is-so-much-better-wherever
-else comments, your feeling of hopelessness - the flawed system; the brotherhood of shit and squalor) about the status quo but remain, shamefully, the least interested in resolving them. Progress will be followed by interregnum; possibly with morbid consequences for us all. The largest and the most dangerous pitfall lying ahead of us is this: adoption of a ghetto mentality where we scamper to get our nails into every pie of progress but remain, in many ways, exiled from of our nation. To forget that we belong to a larger community, to exclusively identify ourselves in straitjackets is, in my opinion, a voluntary self-expulsion from the diverse realities of the multitudes; multitudes that have been the defining characteristic of the very idea called India. It is time to redefine politics and the role of the government. You and I have a larger part to play in a participatory democracy. I am hopeful. Vive la Republique!
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