Should politicians in India have a retirement age? The answer is a resounding, yes. However, in reality, most politicians retire only at death. Around 80% of our politicians are above the age of 70 years. In the absence of age limits, politicians maintain their seats until their last breath. This situation is unfair to the rest of the government officials as most fields in India have a fixed retirement age. Public sector employees in state and central government retire at the age of 60 years. But there is no retirement age for the members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Governor, Chief Minister, members of Legislative Council and Assembly, President and Prime Minister. Why can’t we have a fixed retirement age in electoral politics?
Indian politicians have long been targets of ridicule and reproach on account of their illogical statements about women and the society. They often pass preposterous comments on sensitive matters concerning the population. While 78-year-old Mulayam Singh Yadav had said, “Boys will be boys and they commit mistakes”, 67-year-old Mohan Bhagwat believed, “Rapes occur in India and not in Bharat”. 70-year-old Vasudev Devnani propagated a bizarre argument stating that cows exhale oxygen and 78-year-old Subramanian Swami contended, “Homosexuality is a genetic flaw that is being celebrated”. These politicians who administer our nation are not alone in passing such outlandish ideas, there are many more traditionalists like them. How can we, as a nation progress and look forward to a liberal society when the ones in power are filled with obsolete and fallacious notions? The saying, ‘With age comes wisdom’ doesn’t hold true to Indian politicians. The opinions voiced by our elderly politicians show their conservative and archaic beliefs.
Incompetency and Inefficiency
The Indian society when compared to the rest of the world was suspicious towards modernization until the 80’s. The country opened its doors to western influence and globalization only in the 1990’s. As a result, a majority of Indians belonging to the older generation are driven by religious thought. Unfortunately, it is this generation that dominates the country’s politics. Unlike the present generation who are influenced by western ideologies and lifestyle through multimedia and literature, the older generation is reluctant towards change. Modern and liberal outlooks are usually frowned upon by the aged. Belonging to a much older generation, politicians remain hostile towards modern scientific discoveries that debunk traditional and religious practices.
The general pattern seen in human beings is that once they cross the age of 60, they begin to endure health problems which affect their ability to work effectively. In most sectors, the retirement age is 60 as the productivity level of an employee begins to deteriorate as they age. Politics, being one of the most vital vehicles of our society needs to be managed by those who are capable and proactive. But it’s a pity that majority of our ministers are above 80 years. A few months ago, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, 65 years and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, 63 were hospitalized due to ailing health conditions. The task of running the nation is strenuous and requires undeterred perseverance. Thus we can’t afford to have ministers who go on leaves for months. Therefore a retirement age needs to be set for politicians due to their inability to cope with the rigours of a demanding career.
Around 50% of India’s population is below the age of 25 and more than 65% is under 35 years of age. India has 600 million young people and by 2020, the average age of an Indian is expected to be 29 years. But is India’s young blood adequately represented in the government? No. The lukewarm pace at which the youth are entering politics is of serious concern. In a young democracy like ours, the dearth of young leaders is impeding the growth rate of the society. The aspirational youth need to be encouraged with more opportunities so that their ideas and energy push the nation forward. These fresh minds are filled with passion and have the potential to work with zeal and confidence. Young people are more flexible, adaptive and risk-taking when compared to senior politicians. Growing up in an online world, the millennials have witnessed political polarization, economic collapse, communal violence, racial discrimination and other social upheavals. Unlike the previous generation, the inquisitive young are eager to raise question against such issues and fight them. While the elders accept social disharmony as a common occurrence and remain passive towards it, the young are furious to put an end to it. Since the young have access to information from all over the world, they are more liberal and broad-minded in their approach. To them human diversity, equality, freedom and feminism are norms. They are more tolerant and less religious. Therefore, they are capable of bringing in a reformist perspective into the electoral process if they are given a chance.
Since the politicians in India don’t have a fixed retirement age, most of them refuse to give up their seats and we see the same faces again and again. Despite their incompetency as politicians, they continue to serve the government as it allows them to earn income for the rest of their life. For them, politics is a way to earn their bread and butter without much hard work rather than serving the country. In this regard, if an age limit was set, the young would get a chance to join politics. People’s representatives should be physically and psychologically fit. Senior politicians should give up their positions to young politicians so that fresh ideas and plans can be implemented. According to Bloomberg, India’s youth are the world’s future. How can the ageing and ailing relics of politics understand the issues faced by the youth? Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. So we need young leaders to lead a young nation. And this is only possible if the senior citizens are forced to vacate their positions for new thought.
Picture Credits :thetsmblogger