Wasteful ageism

EducationWorld October 2020 | Postscript

Even the occasional follower of the US presidency election campaign — the electorate of the world’s most powerful democracy will vote on November 3, less than a month from now — can’t help noticing the extent to which unapologetic ageism has crept into political jousting. According to President Donald Trump (74), his Democratic party rival Joe Biden (78) is too aged to be able to shoulder the cares of presidential office and his campaigning is enabled by performance enhancing drugs.

However in the scrappy first head-to-head presidential debate which Biden won hands down, the latter proved that he not only is totally compos mentis, he is an intelligent, well-informed, experienced and compassionate political leader, the mirror opposite of Trump. If the American electorate re-elects Trump, it will be clear proof that those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.

Given the slavish tendency of influencers in Indian society to follow American trends, it’s unsurprising that ageism — described as “stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age” — is also rife in Indian society. Despite chronic vacancies in the higher judiciary, experienced Supreme Court justices are compulsorily retired at 65, and high court judges at 62. Most of them continue their careers in arbitration or as heads of tribunals with perfect ease. Why shouldn’t they continue to serve the public interest? Ditto army generals and seasoned civil servants. Why shouldn’t they continue to serve the public when 80 is the new 60?

In this connection it’s worthy of note that judges of the US Supreme Court continue in harness until death or proven incapacity. It’s quite obvious the real rationale of pushing perfectly capable oldies out of office is to artificially create employment within a low growth economy in which an aged political class (there’s no retirement age for politicians) is unwilling to relinquish control and command of all economic activity. It’s a wonder why the passive public tolerates aged politicians blundering on forever while capable professionals are put out to pasture prematurely.

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