Excellence disqualifications

EducationWorld November 2022 | Magazine Postscript

LIKE THE BOURBON KINGS OF 16TH CENTURY France, members of the opposition Congress party refuse to learn from history. Despite this vintage political party (estb.1885) being roundly trounced in two successive General Elections (2014 & 2019), Congress has rejected the party presidency bid of erudite and charis­matic Dr. Shashi Tharoor, former assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and author of 21 books covering history, sociology, divinity among other subjects.

Tharoor’s defeat in the first internal election of the Congress party in 22 years, is bad news for all believers in democracy, because it ensures the Nehru-Gandhi family’s domination of Congress, which until it was routed by the BJP in General Election 2014 and again in 2019, ruled India for over half a century. After the BJP swept to power a decade ago, although Congress has the largest number of opposition seats (53) in the 543-strong Lok Sabha, it has been reduced to a shadow of its former glory, with an exodus of leaders and members shifting their allegiance to BJP which with its Hindu majoritarian agenda seems set to win the next General Election scheduled for 2024.

At a deeper level, reluctance of the Congress to change the status quo — the mild-mannered Mallikarjun Kharge, elected president, is likely to be an obedient rubber stamp of Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi — reflects the anti-intellectualism of the political class which has ruined post-independence India’s high-potential economy and deeply divided the country along caste, class and religious fault lines. A three-term MP who retained his Lok Sabha seat despite the BJP’s countrywide sweep in the past two general elections, Tharoor is not a political novice. But his disqualification is that he is highly educated with excel­lent command of the English language, and is a globally acclaimed former diplomat and writer. In the arid politi­cal landscape dominated by leaders with minimal or faux education qualifications, Tharoor’s excellent education and proven erudition are disqualifications. The tea leaves don’t read well for 21st century India.

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