2nd Year No 72 — Friday – 23rd December 1955
– Jawaharlal Nehru
Must youth dabble in politics? Youth has always taken a keen interest. The history of great political movements is not complete without the mention of the glorious part played by young persons.
What in fact constitutes politics? The idea about it is so vague that rarely will two persons explain it in the same way. To many it is just firework. It may mean anything from the plucking of the moon to the establishment of a millennium overnight.
Educated youths should explode the dreadful and dangerous vagueness. Nothing is more dangerous than the people reacting just because they expected more than politicians can give. If politics and politicians must thrive, the people should be given an accurate picture of our possibilities.
If the myth is not exploded, politics and politicians will be blown up. That is so because of certain nefarious tendencies at present. That is so because some people of weak moral calibre have cheated the people by tall promises or over-blackening the opponents.
Some persons have only one aim: to go to Council by hook or by crook. They do not care for broad principles. They are prepared to change them if only they are promised success at the polls. They can sell their poor brethren in bargaining behind the screen. Themselves at any cost and the country goes to dogs.
Another set no less dangerous want to surround itself by satellites however colossally foolish these may be. They sponsor some mediocrities and dunces to honour not because they can help the country but only because they have some personal advantages in that gamble.
Both these sets of politicians must be kicked out public life otherwise there will be disillusionment. Youth must soon prepare to take over by waiting to elbow out the older ones. It is necessary to prepare for some time before entering politics. It will be most monstrous folly to assume that one can go to Council just because he is a graduate or professional.
Politics needs some preparation. I meant honest politics. In other parts of the world, when someone demands to stand as candidate on behalf of a party, he is asked: “What’s your line?” It would mean: for what branch of public affairs have you any specialized knowledge?
Take the case of Hugh Gaitskell. He leads the Labour Party at 49 just because he is a sound man in financial affairs. Let us see how that should apply to Mauritius. Take the Executive Council membership. If any Party has to do any effective work, membership of this Council should in the first instance be given to people who have some specialized knowledge of agriculture, industries and finance.
These are our major concerns and ignorance in them must render representation severely ineffective regarding the great problems. Our representatives are therefore interested in second grade matters while the initiative of finance and agriculture will pass out of our hands. It would mean our living in a fool’s paradise.
What is the use of responsible government without initiative in economic matters? So that if you have any political ambition to enter Council one day or to become a Minister, take your line and specialise. Here is a short list of subjects that will be necessary for a Ministry to know with precision: Agriculture, Industries including possibilities of new ones, Finance including the set-up of industrial finance, Education including absorption of the educated, Local government, Rural uplift, Co-operation and Trade Unionism, Trade and Commerce, Health and Housing, Social Services including welfare of prisoners, patients and probationers, Broadcasting and other forms of Recreations, Publicity, Communications (International and External), Revenues and Tariffs.
Politics has stages. The first is generally pure demagogy. Demagogy has some element of dishonesty. Making wild statements is good in a half-civilized society if it is good at all. We must have the cooperation of young people to put politics on sounder footing.
The days of pane-crashing and fire eating are dead and gone. We must now write facts, talk facts. The days of emotional outbursts are gone forever. We do not want cool calculation and marshalling of arguments. We do not want either people who will remain dumb in Council or those who believe more in shouting than in wisdom, more in histrionics than in transacting public business.
That politics alone will lead this country forward that it is based on honesty, civility, knowledge of facts and of course courage. There should be only one aim in entering politics: to serve the country with maximum devotion. There are no preferences and favours in politics: the best must have the best whoever they may be.
In the world today when politics has been grouped into recognized patterns, there is little room for personal opinions. But there is and there will always be scope for ability and integrity in any sphere of life.
You should never go to Council just because you cannot make enough in your profession. You can plant pumpkins instead. You would be dishonest to go to Council just because you have tons of money and you want to give the superficial polish to your faded name. You are lunatic if you have put it in your head that you must go to Council only because you happen to hold a University or professional parchment.
You must go to Council if it tingles in your blood. Politics summons and you feel spurred. You brave the rough weather and you do not feel stifled by neighbouring insincerity or tokens of ingratitude. You want to serve and you derive pleasure in burning the midnight oil in the preparation.
In this conception of politics I request young persons to interest themselves and to prepare. Going to politics when you are too young have a danger: if you enter Council in your thirties, you must be an extraordinarily brilliant person for the people to sustain you till you are in the sixties or seventies. If you are not so, you must be prepared to die benighted after having enjoyed the limelight.
Whatever it may be, politics does not promise easy living and does not always bring honour. But we do need able young men of goodwill. The country needs it. I am not talking of any party. You may join any party as long as you honestly desire to serve the country.
I am aware that among young people who have just returned or who will be returning shortly there are excellent specimen. My plea is that they should fix their “line” and take to it with zeal and zest.
Jay Narain Roy