Why did Imran Khan lose the elections? The answer lies in why meritorious people like him fail in politics in general.
There is always blame levelled on meritorious students that why don’t they join politics though the politics needs them badly. In support, French President Charles De Gaulle says that, “I have come to the conclusion that, politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians!”
Politics should not be left to the politicians alone because politics is all about people and before I utter the biblical notion of democracy, we can say that Politics is of the people, by the people and for the people. So people from all walks of life should join politics, especially those who are capable of bringing welfare to people.
I was having a discussion with my friends at the dinner table on why meritorious students don’t join active politics and what we are losing due to it also, what can be done to involve them in politics. There points of disagreements and agreements amongst us but we unanimously agreed to the need of meritorious students in politics.
In theory, leaders are chosen from the people in a democracy and they reflect abilities and vision of people at large. In western democracies, we see never witness a crisis of a lack of meritorious and able leadership. Structurally, democracies in the developing world are the same but context is very very different. The low level of literacy and less politically conscious developing democracies get politicians which are elected by the people but they do not really reflect the abilities, vision and dreams of the people.This situation can’t be left to work on its own as the relation between politics and social change is a typical case of the chicken-egg paradox.
The changes in society influence its politics and at the same time the politics and political/state policies change the society. I am not here to establish the causal relationship between these two. Rather, I want to put my thought regarding the importance of meritorious students in politics.
Let me clear my own understanding of meritorious in this specific context. I admit, there are lots of ambiguities involved in defining this notion. Actually, it is true that, everybody has merit to some extent to do something. But for the sake of argument, let’s consider the students who have showed their competency in an institutional framework are meritorious. Simply, I can put the word as educated. For sure it is a limited definition of meritorious but I think it is alright for this discussion. On the other hand, here the politicians are the people who are actively involved in field level politics and connected to and deal with the masses.
Why Meritorious Students Generally Diverge from Active Politics?
There are lots of exogenous factors why politics can’t attract meritorious students but some endogenous factors also play a role.
Meritorious people have to show their competency in the institutional exams and thus have to be intensely involved in academic studies. So usually they get less time and chance to mix with the public. Yes, there are some who can manage both but observing the general scenario of present day curriculum it is well established that they really have less scope to mix with public.
The second fact about them is, they are always seeking perfectionism as they have showed their perfections in their own exams and their determination doesn’t let them compromise on this point. And, in case of developing countries, perfection in politics is near impossible. By perfection, I mean playing by the rules, discipline and most important of it all- ethics.
The third fact is, most of them have just a little understanding of the ground level problems in politics. The supplementary problem is in the education system which is less and less application-based and least connected to the real world. The basic political problems do not find a place in texts and with this text the problems can hardly be solved!
As it is, literacy rate of developing countries is very poor. Around half of this population can’t either read or write. Keep this fact in mind; these people understand the world in a different way as against the university educated so called meritorious people.
The question why did Imran Khan lose the elections provides an example of the same. Pakistani leader Imran Khan fought general elections in 2013. There is no doubt at all that, he is the most charismatic leader in Pakistan in current times (at least in terms of middle class’s expectations). But after election it is seen that, he is elected in all the urban areas where people are educated and globally conscious. But the rural people didn’t vote for him because they thought he is not a big leader and their vote to him will be just spoiled! Same case happened in Bangladesh. When the first and only Nobel laureate and the founder of the largest poor’s bank in Bangladesh Dr. Muhammad Yunus declared to form a political party in 2007 after feeling the need of a third party, he was refused power coldly by the masses and politicians uttered that, “He is an educated and noble person and we all respect him. Why he wants to join politics!”. If the script sounds similar then don’t forget the Indian example of Arvind Kejriwal.
So, I think there are some structural problems in adjustment in politics which deter the meritorious people in developing countries from joining active politics. The most important fact and indeed the beauty of democracy is that politicians are a reflection of the society. If the society is not educated enough then educated leader can’t stand validated. That’s why the developing and less educated countries lack educated or meritorious leaders in politics.
Politics shapes the society and society shapes its politics. In development literature, we often find that one of the main problems of ‘underdevelopment’ is its weak political institutions and lack of a governmental capacity to go for visionary goals. The success of ‘East Asian Tigers” is usually explained as the role of dominance of meritocracy in bureaucracy and politics.
Nobody will disagree that, development is needed for us and a proper path of development must be designed and approved by the politicians. Besides other important points, if we just look from a completely development perspective, we need meritorious or educated politicians in our politics.
(N.B: There are lots of meritorious and educated leaders in developing countries showing hope to us and we are deeply grateful to them)