The more things change the more they remain the same– or so the saying goes.
The Princely families of earlier years are Royal in name only, their privileges and Privy Purses having been cancelled. But the resulting void has been filled by the Royal Families of Indian Politics.
The recently concluded Indian General Elections have shown us this.
Vinod Sharma at India Retold has analysed how the 2009 elections have empowered Dynasties and not the youth.
Indyeah has given a comprehensive and detailed summary of Dynasty and Nepotism in Indian politics.
Kislay Chandra has- tongue in cheek- explained the suitability of the Scion of the First Family of Indian Politics for the post of Prime Minister.
It is evident that Dynasty Politics is here to stay. A change may be possible in the long run, but not anytime soon.
So why not try to make the best of a bad situation? If we cannot change the system, perhaps we may be able to influence the people involved.
And that is where our traditional wisdom may be useful. It is the trend nowadays to trash anything traditional. But in the present situation, we should look back in history a little.
Some think that the younger generation in politics today do not have the talent, intelligence or common sense required to rule the country.
But this same problem was there, in the old days, when princes ascended the throne just by virtue of birth.
We find that earlier generations were more adept than us at solving this problem.
Their motto was-“catch them young”.
The future rulers had to be molded while they were still at an impressionable age. We have seen earlier that the game of Moksha Patamu (or Snakes and Ladders) was used to impart moral education to children in ancient India.
Similarly the Panchatantra, a collection of animal fables, was used to impart knowledge of ‘Nitishastra‘ or principles of human conduct and political science to Princes who were likely to succeed to the throne.
The Panchatantra is thought to have been written around 200BC by the great Hindu Scholar Pandit Vishnu Sharma.
The Panchatantra is an interwoven series of interesting animal stories. It has been compared to a set of Russian Dolls, which is a good description.
The stories are divided into five parts-
1. The Loss of Friends
2. Gaining Friends
3. Of Crows and Owls
4. Loss of Gains
These stories from the Panchatantra have entertained and imparted wisdom to many generations of children. Children love the colourful and very pertinent names of the animals in the stories. Laghupatanaka, the crow, Chitragriva, king of doves, Hiranyaka, the rat, Priyadarsana, the Cobra and many others.
A favourite story is The Crocodile and The Monkey . Through this story of Raktamukha, the Monkey and Karalmukha, the Crocodile- Pandit Vishnu Sharma explains to the Princes,
“He overcomes all problems
Who does not lose his cool
Even in the face of adversity
Like the monkey in the water.”
So, is this likely to be a viable solution? –Catch the politicians’ children while they are still at school and try to mold their characters? It has been successful in the past.
There is one catch, however. The Kings in India Past wanted their children to be taught Nitishastra. They wanted their successors to be well versed in moral political principles. They saw this as an advantage.
What will the attitude of today’s politicians be? Will they allow their children to be instructed in Nitishastra?
Perhaps they will see an understanding of moral principles as a handicap instead of an asset?