Political Philosophy, Politics and Politician

Author, analyst & soldier scholar, Lt Col. MK Guptaray (Retd) delves deep into the roots of political philosophy, its systems and the prerequisite's to be an effective politician in this approach paper.

Political Philosophy, Politics and Politician

In the known human history the types of governance which have been followed so far are democracy, theocracy, tyranny timocracy, oligarchy and various other lesser known governing systems followed by the aborigines or tribal in their own small little sects which may be not connected to the main stream and are unknown or lesser known.

There have been many great thinkers from ancient times till the modern era who tried to espouse various theories and their applications on governance.

The great ancient thinkers belonged to India, China, Greece, Italy and Germany. Just to name few of them: from India, Lord Krishna, Chanakya, Manu Sanghita, Buddha, Nagarjuna, Vyasa, Yajnavalkya etc; western philosophers were Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Averroes. From China they were Confusious, Laozi, Mencius, Zhuang Zhou, Mozi etc.

Among the modern thinkers we have Adi Shankara, Guru Nanak, Ramkrishnadeb Raja Rammohan Roy, Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar, Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi from India; Karl Marx, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Kant, from Europe  and Sun Yat-sen, Zheng Xian, Zhu X, Zengzi from China and there are many such philosophers with list unending.

Political Philosophy or Political theory deals with different aspects of activities in governance of the society, e.g. law, property, politics, justice, enforcement of law by authority, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties of the citizens owe to a legitimate government, and when the government may legitimately be changed by a collective decision, if ever, and what are the responsibilities of the citizen.

Besides all the internal matters it also deals with Defence, Foreign Relations, International trade and all types of interactions needed for a state to function. Political philosophy is also a branch of philosophy and political science includes various other social, legal and administrative aspects which affect the living in the society.

All these thinkers tried to find out the best and harmonious way of living. It is understood that whenever a group of people live together there is a need to have certain rules and regulations and a governing body to create these rules, regulate and also govern and execute them as a duly accepted enforcement authority, especially while there is a debate between parties having power and the citizen.

This also includes local governments’ affairs of state, enforcement of public law, public affairs, diplomacy, party politics, activities aimed at improving someone's status or increasing power within an organization. The ultimate aim should be the well-being of the people of the country.

There are philosophers of different eras and countries who tried to espouse or develop different theories with ultimate aim to provide suitable conditions for establishment of a welfare state.

The ultimate aim of all types of governance theory has been to provide such a state of administration which would create a welfare state, providing a harmonious administration.

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Certain Theories are Discussed Below

Democracy: It is ruled by the people, of the people and for the people (Abraham Lincoln); so that proper and suitably elected representatives take care of administration on behalf of the citizen and provide a welfare state. It can be ruled directly or by representation. Democracy rests upon the principles of majority rule and individual rights.

Oligarchy: is a government by a small group of people having control of the country in which members of the ruling group are wealthy or exercise their power through their wealth are also known as plutocracies. In this case governing elites were recruited exclusively from ruling caste.

Timocracy: A timocracy in Aristotle's Politics is a state where the property owners may participate in government. The more extreme form of timocracy, is where power derives entirely from wealth with no regard for social or civic responsibility.

Aristocracy: government by the best (Plato's ideal form of government), by a small privileged class or by minority consisting of those presumed to be best qualified to rule. An example of an aristocracy is Britain’s Royal family.

In India Two classes of the Indian nobility existed in the Moghul era: Mansabdars were the administrative and military nobility, a group of people who were sort of nobility of the office, and depended on the revenues given to them by the monarchs and generally not connected to the land.

The Zamindars were the Feudal Nobility, possessors and proprietors of vast holdings of land. This was the social class from which the future kings of India would arise. This was the truly Indian Nobility, the Federal noble class of ancient India.

Dictatorship: It is a form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations. It generally results from toppling a legitimate government forcefully by military, strongman by revolution or a legitimate governmental head turning into dictator when he gets addicted to power and having weak opposition.

Absolutism: Absolutism is a political theory and form of government in which unlimited, complete power is held by a centralized to sovereign individual, with no checks or balances from any other part of the nation or government. This political doctrine practices unlimited centralized authority and absolute sovereignty, as vested especially in a monarch or dictator.

Tyranny: A system of government where a dictator oppresses and subjugates the masses. The philosophers Plato and Aristotle defined a tyrant as a person who rules without law, using extreme and cruel methods against both his own people and others.

Communism: (from Latin communis, 'common, universal') is a philosophical, social, political, economic ideology and movement, primarily based on Marxism, whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a communist society, namely a socioeconomic order structured upon the ideas of common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money and the state.

In this system there are two major social classes, bourgeoisie and proletariat or haves and have-nots.  Conflict between these two classes is the root of all problems in society and this situation can only ultimately be resolved through a social revolution.

Socialism: is a political, social and economic philosophy encompassing a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management of enterprises. It includes the political theories and movements associated with such systems. Social ownership can be public, collective, cooperative or of equity.

Capitalism: is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, a price system, private property and the recognition of property rights, voluntary exchange and wage labour.

In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investments are determined by every owner of wealth, property or production ability in capital and financial markets whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.

Kingship: The divine right of kings, or divine-right theory of kingship, is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God.

In this way, the "divine right" originates as a metaphysical act of humility or submission towards God. The divine right has been a key element for legitimizing many absolute monarchies.

Constitutional Monarchy is form of government in which a monarch is guided by a constitution where his/her rights duties and responsibilities are spelled out in written law or by custom after having glimpses of almost all the political theories we may try to learn political philosophy propagated by few of the eminent philosophers of ancient, medieval and modern era.

Authored by Lt Gen (Dr) VK Ahluwalia (Retd): Available on Amazon & Pentagon Press

Ancient Traditions

Politics goes as far back as human history; Archival Image

Ancient India

Indian political philosophy in ancient times demarcated a clear distinction between (1) nation and state (2) religion and state. The constitutions of Hindu states evolved over time and were based on political and legal treatises and prevalent social institutions.

The institutions of state were broadly divided into governance, administration, defense, law and order. The principal governing body of these states consisted of the King, Prime Minister, Commander in chief of army, Chief Priest of the King. The Prime Minister headed the committee of ministers along with the head of executive (Maha Amatya).

Few of the Very Eminent Thinkers had Been...

Lord Krishna

Arjuna's charioteer Lord Krishna assuaging him of his moral dilemma's in the battlefields of Kurukshetra; Artists Rendition 

If there is any single figure that represents India, its yogic spirituality, vibrant culture and ancient history, it is Lord Krishna. This is not any easy choice, as India is also the land of Buddha, Rama, Shankara and many sages and rishis of the highest order.

As a teacher of devotion, Krishna reigns supreme as the ultimate image and guide of Divine Love, detailed in the many heart-rending stories about him.

For Karma Yoga and transformative action, Krishna’s counseling to Arjuna in the Gita is foundation teaching.

As a statesman and diplomat par excellence, no one compares with him.

That is why Krishna and the Gita became the inspiration for India’s Independence Movement for Tilak, Aurobindo and Gandhi.


Yajnavalkya the Vedic sage; Artists Rendition

Yajnavalkya or Yagyavlkya (Sanskrit: याज्ञवल्क्य, Yājñavalkya) was a Hindu Vedic sage. He is mentioned in the Upanishads and likely lived in the Videha region (North West India) of ancient India, approximately between the 8th century BCE, and the 7th century BCE. Yajnavalkya is considered one of the earliest philosophers in recorded history.

Yajnavalkya proposes and debates metaphysical questions about the nature of existence, consciousness and impermanence, and expounds the epistemic doctrine of neti neti ("not this, not this") to discover the universal Self and Ātman.

His ideas for renunciation of worldly attachments have been important to Hindu sannyasa traditions. He is credited for coining the Advaita (non-dualism, monism), another important tradition within Hinduism.


Portrait of Chanakya the master diplomat; Artists Rendition 

Chanakya was a 4th-century BC Indian political philosopher. His Arthashastra provides an account of the science of politics for a wise ruler, policies for foreign affairs and wars, the system of a spy state and surveillance and economic stability of the state.

Chanakya quotes several authorities including Bruhaspati, Ushanas, Prachetasa Manu, Parasara, and Ambi, and described himself as a descendant of a lineage of political philosophers, with his father Chanaka being his immediate predecessor.

Another influential extant Indian treatise on political philosophy is the Sukra Neeti. [An example of a code of law in ancient India is the Manusmṛti or Laws of Manu. Some examples of manusmriti are:-

”Humbly bowing down before the almighty Lord Vishnu, the Lord of the three worlds, I recite maxims of the science of political ethics (niti) selected from the various satras.

Even from poison extract nectar, wash and take back gold if it has fallen in filth, receive the highest knowledge (Krisna consciousness) from a low born person; so also a girl possessing virtuous qualities (stri-ratna) even if she be born in a disreputable family.

Those born blind cannot see; similarly blind are those in the grip of lust. Proud men have no perception of evil; and those bent on acquiring riches see no sin in their actions.

Conciliate a covetous man by means of a gift, an obstinate man with folded hands in salutation, a fool by humouring him, and a learned man by truthful words.

Union in privacy (with one's wife); boldness; storing away useful items; watchfulness; and not easily trusting others; these five things are to be learned from a crow.”

Gautam Buddha

Gautam Buddha during his meditations; Digital Artwork

The word Buddha means “enlightened.” The path to enlightenment is attained by utilizing morality, meditation and wisdom. ... Buddhism encourages its people to avoid self-indulgence but also self-denial. Buddha's most important teachings, known as The Four Noble Truths, are essential to understanding the religion.

The Four Noble Truths comprise the essence of Buddha's teachings, though they leave much left unexplained. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.

Ancient China

Portrait of Confucius, c. 1770; Digital Artwork

Chinese political philosophy dates back to the Spring and Autumn period, specifically with Confucius in the 6th century BC. Chinese political philosophy was developed as a response to the social and political breakdown of the country characteristic of the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period.

The major philosophies during the period, Confucianism, Legalism, Mohism, Agrarianism and Taoism, each had a political aspect to their philosophical schools.

Philosophers such as Confucius, Mencius, and Mozi, focused on political unity and political stability as the basis of their political philosophies. Confucianism advocated a hierarchical, meritocratic government based on empathy, loyalty, and interpersonal relationships.

Legalism advocated a government based on draconian punishments and laws. Mohism advocated a communal, decentralized government centered on frugality and asceticism.

The Agrarians advocated a peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism. Taoism advocated a proto-anarchism. Legalism was the dominant political philosophy of the Qin Dynasty, but was replaced by State Confucianism in the Han Dynasty.

Prior to China's adoption of communism, State Confucianism remained the dominant political philosophy of China up to the 20th century. Egalitarianism is the precursor of socialism.

Western political philosophy originates in the philosophy of ancient Greece, where political philosophy dates back to at least Socrates followed by Plato. Ancient Greece was dominated by city-states, which experimented with various forms of political organization, grouped by Plato into five categories of descending stability and morality: tyranny, monarchy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and.

One of the first, extremely important classical works of political philosophy is Plato's Republic, which was followed  by Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, ethics known as virtue ethics because of its heavy reliance on the concept of virtue and Roman political philosophy was influenced by the Stoics and the Roman statesman Cicero.

The Greek Philosopher Socrates; Digital Artwork

Socrates: was a classical Greek philosopher who is credited with laying the fundamentals of modern Western philosophy. He is known for creating Socratic irony and the Socratic method (elenchus). He is best recognized for inventing the teaching practice of pedagogy, wherein a teacher questions a student in a manner that draws out the correct response.

He has had a profound influence on Western philosophy, along with his students Plato and Aristotle.

Statue of Greek Philosopher Plato; File Photo

Plato: Like most other ancient philosophers, Plato maintains a virtue-based eudaimonistic conception of ethics. That is to say, happiness or well-being (eudaimonia) is the highest aim of moral thought and conduct, and the virtues are the requisite skills and dispositions needed to attain it.

Statue of Greek Philosopher Aristotle; File Photo

In the work of Aristotle, eudaimonia (based on older Greek tradition) was used as the term for the highest human good, and so it is the aim of practical philosophy, including ethics and political philosophy, to consider (and also experience) what it really is, and how it can be achieved.

It is thus a central concept in Aristotelian ethics and subsequent Hellenistic philosophy, along with the terms aretē (most often translated as 'virtue' or 'excellence') and phronesis" ('practical or ethical wisdom').

Medieval Christianity

Saint Augustine

Painting of St Augustine of Hippo; Archival Image

The early Christian philosophy of Augustine of Hippo was heavily influenced by Plato. A key change brought about by Christian thought was the moderation of the Stoicism and theory of justice of the Roman world, as well emphasis on the role of the state in applying mercy as a moral example.

Augustine also preached that one was not a member of his or her city, but was either a citizen of the City of God (Civitas Dei) or the City of Man (Civitas Terrena). Augustine's City of God is an influential work of this period that attacked the thesis, held by many Christian Romans, that the Christian view could be realized on Earth.

Statue of Niccolo Machiavelli; File Photo

Machiavellianism is a personality trait involving a cold, calculating view toward others, and the use of manipulativeness and deceit to achieve one's goals. Machiavellians have limited empathy for others; both on a cognitive and emotional level, and appear to have a reduced theory of mind.

Machiavellians are strategic individuals who are willing to lie, cheat, and deceive others in order to achieve their goals. Due to the Machiavellian’s lack of emotional attachment, and shallow experience of emotions, there may be little that holds these individuals back from harming others in order to achieve their goals. This in fact is one of the reasons why Machiavellian views and attitudes are so aversive and problematic.

Indeed, similar to psychopaths who may harm others for enjoyment, or narcissists who may harm others due to their lack of empathy, Machiavellians may manipulate or deceive others in order to advance themselves, with little consideration of the emotional collateral.


Adi Shankaracharya

Portrait of Indian philosopher Adi Shankaracharya; Artists Rendition

Adi Shankaracharya was an Indian philosopher and theologian who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. He is credited with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism.


Portrait of Ramanuja; Artists Rendition

Ramanuja or Ramanujacharya was an Indian theologian, philosopher, social reformer, and one of the most important exponents of the Sri Vaishnavism tradition. His chief contribution to philosophy was his insistence that discursive thought is necessary in humanity's search for the ultimate verities, that the phenomenal world is real and provides real knowledge.


Portrait of Chaitanya; Archival Image

Chaitanya: Chaitanya was born in 1486 A.D. at Nabadwip in West Bengal in a Brahmin family. At the age of twenty-two Nimai travelled to Gaya to offer homage to his deceased father. There he met a hermit named Iswarapuri. Iswarapuri initiated Nimai by giving him the ‘Krishna Mantra’. This brought about a change in the life of Nimai. Often Nimai chanted the name of Krishna and would fall into a trance.

The fundamental thrust of Chaitanya’s religion was ‘love’ and love for Krisna was the mainstay of his religion. He stressed that mere utterance of the names of Krisna and Radha could drive one to ecstasy. By uttering the name of Krisna and by having a deep faith in one's guru or preceptor, one could attain salvation. Since this was the easiest path towards liberation. It became easily acceptable to the people.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy

Portrait of Raja Ram Mohan Roy; Archival Image

Raja Ram Mohan Roy: Among varying versions about Roy’s early education, one states that the process began in the village school where he picked up Bengali and some Sanskrit. Later on, he is believed to have joined a madrasa in Patna where he studied Persian and Arabic which was followed by a trip to Kashi (Banaras) where he studied Sanskrit and Hindu holy books such as the Vedas and the Upanishads He learnt English much later, only in his early 20s.

He was a great Social Reformer. His reforms have been Abolition of Sati,  Voice against idolatry, Champion of Women Liberty, Opposition to Caste System, Advocate of Western Education, Father of Indian Journalism.


Portrait of Swami Vivekananda; Archival Image

Vivekananda is credited with contributing to a revival of modern Hinduism and inspiring nationalist consciousness during colonial rule. But he is best known for his famous 1893 speech where he introduced Hinduism to the Western world in Chicago. He was a spiritual leader and social reformer. His lectures, writings, letters, poems, ideas, motivated not only the youth of India but also the whole world.

He is the founder of Ramakrishna Mission and Belur Math in Calcutta, which are still working towards helping the needy. Swami Vivekananda suggested trying to give up jealousy and conceit and learn to work unitedly for others. He said that purity, patience and perseverance overcome all obstacles. He suggested taking courage and working on it. Patience and steady work, according to Swami Vivekananda, this is the only way to get success.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Photograph of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan; File Photo

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was an Indian philosopher. He was famous for his work on comparative religion, comparative Eastern and Western philosophy, and was also a teacher in India and at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. He was also a statesman and served as the President of India. He was the bridge-builder between East and the West due to his great knowledge. He had the ability to simplify complex ideas. Dr. Radhakrishnan was critical of the way of teaching of Western Philosophers.

Karl Marx

Painting of Karl Marx; Archival Image

Like the other classical economists, Karl Marx believed in the labor theory of value to explain relative differences in market prices. This theory stated that the value of a produced economic good can be measured objectively by the average number of labor-hours required to produce it. In other words, if a table takes twice as long to make as a chair, then the table should be considered twice as valuable.

Thomas Hobbes & John Locke

Portrait of political theorist John Locke; Archival Image

Thomas Hobbes and John Locke developed their political theories on Social Contract at a time of religious, political and social upheaval in England. They were archetypal enlightenment figures well acquainted with the scientific and philosophical concerns of their time. Hobbes was classically educated but later in life became interested in scientific thought and metaphysics. Locke was a physician and a member of the Royal Society. They shared the enlightenment view of the world.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Archival Image

Jean-Jacques Rousseau is famous for preconceiving the social contract as a compact between the individual and a collective “general will” aimed at the common good and reflected in the laws of an ideal state and for maintaining that existing society rests on a false social contract that perpetuates inequality.

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Evolution of Theories

Politics (from Greek: 'affairs of the cities') is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status.

We have discussed 12 types of governance theories and read political theories of a large number of philosophers of different eras: ancient to modern. Certain things those come out distinctly are:

Indian philosophers propagated more about spiritual and religious philosophies, duties of kings and emperors and principles of governance, religion and social changes than political philosophies as relevant today propagated by the western philosophers.

In Indian philosophies, most quoted and discussed is Kautilya’s  Arthashastra which is an ancient Sanskrit treatise on statecraft, economic policy and military strategy. Kautilya is also known as Vishnugupta and Chanakya. The text is likely to be the work of several authors over centuries with broader scope. The authors were believed to be from schools of Brihaspati, Manu, Usanasand lastly kautilya.

It is believed to be written between the 2nd and 3rd century BC. It includes topics on nature of government, law, civil and criminal court system, ethics, economics, markets and trades, the method of screening ministers, diplomacy, theories on war, nature of peace and the duties and obligation of a king: today’s ministers. It says that the best king is the Raja-rishi, the sage king with self control, which is applicable to ministers of today.

It has also mentioned the criteria for selecting ministers. It has stressed on Naya (right) and Annaya (wrong). The most important advice given to the King here is that in times of famine, epidemic and such acts of nature, or by war, he should initiate public projects such as creating irrigation waterways, building forts around major strategic holdings and towns and roads and exempt taxes on those. This is so relevant even today but many governments do not apply this simple wisdom.

Western philosophers, however, discussed more political philosophies on running the states through different forms of governments. It started from Socrates followed by his followers like Plato and Aristotle. Various political theories were discussed and over centuries as the political situation changed. Various theories were accepted and rejected and we have reached what is today. Many rulers turned to autocrats, tyrants, timmocrat, and oligarchs whenever they grew in power and found a suitable time. But those theories no longer find their places in absolute sense.

Over a period of times, most of the twelve types of governance discussed above have lost their relevance due to high awareness of personal rights, education, role of media, and political globalization. Tyranny, autocracy, monarchy etc in absolute senses no longer exists. Ultimately a few theories like democracy, federal system, ceremonial monarchy and modern day capitalist and communist theories where the concept of politics and role of politicians play a major role have survived.

Even these theories also do not work in a pure absolute sense but need to be suitably mixed and adopted with other theories by the user country depending on their economic and social need. The present day communism, socialism, capitalism have evolved through social contract, change in political philosophy due to change caused by industrial and political revolution, influenced by the modern thinkers.

All the theories had been mostly in vogue at different phases of time specially between medieval period to early Modern period or from 5th century to 1800 century covering period of renaissance when major social changes occurred and till up to early modern period. Maximum social changes have also been experienced during this period.

Indeed, most of these philosophies are all related in one form or another. Autocracy and dictatorship are relatively interchangeable terms; however, the former is often used to describe the structure of the government, while the latter is used to describe the actual persons in power. Oligarchies are governments ruled by a group of supreme elites and may not necessarily have to be authoritarian at all.

A tyranny is run by a tyrant, a specific kind of dictator that directly oppresses his subjects and is hated privately by his entire regime. Dictators that aren’t oppressive are not called tyrants. Dictators do not necessarily have a negative connotation to them.

Defining Politics

Defining the nature of politics; Representational Image

Politics comes into being when people live together consequently make decisions. Politics is about making agreements between people so that they can live together in groups such as tribes, cities, or countries. In such countries or cities where a large number of people live, some people take initiative in making certain rules, regulations or laws in making agreements in order to live harmoniously together.

These people are called politicians. Politicians, and sometimes other people, may get together to form a government. The study of politics in universities is called political science, political studies, or public administration.

In everyday life, the term "politics" refers to the way that countries are governed, and to the ways that governments make rules and laws. Politics can also be seen in other groups, such as in companies, clubs, schools, religious institutions etc. Politicians play a big role in organising a well administered government with rule of law to provide a prosperous and fair living without any foul play by any section or segment of people to others.

They are supposed to protect the weaker section from the oppression by the rich and powerful. They are supposed to make all-round development. These politicians are also responsible to protect the country from foreign invasion and also protect the interest of the country or the countrymen across the border. They are supposed to develop long-term strategies.

In most countries, people have formed political parties to put forward their ideas. There is usually some disagreement between people within a party, but they work together because they feel that they agree on enough things, and they will have more power if they join together. They agree to take the same position on many issues, and agree to support the same changes to law and the same leaders.

An election is usually a competition between different parties. In India these are Political parties are either national Some examples of parties in India are National and state parties depending on the party coverage.

Politics work as a potentially constructive as well as destructive force. When used effectively it can protect and help the country meet its strategic goals and live up to its values, especially during organizational changes and develop the livelihood of the countrymen at the same time it can ruin the public lives both economically and socially if the politicians do not show adequate maturity or honesty to the purpose.

Politics refers to a variety of activities associated with the use of influences to improve personal or organizational interests. Studies show that individuals with political skills tend to do better in gaining more personal power as well as managing stress and job demands, than their politically naive counterparts. They also have a greater impact on political outcomes.

Common people would view political moves as dirty and will try to distance themselves from those activities. However, what they find hard to acknowledge is that such activities can also be for the welfare of the country when the right kind of people participate.

Thus, the first step to feeling comfortable with politics requires that people in politics are equipped with a reliable map of the political landscape and understand the sources of political capital. Education, as propagated by the philosophers of all times, is the main criterion for good politics and a good politician.

However, one must realize that during course of governance, whatever may be the form of government, be it democracy, socialism, autocracy or communism, for that duration, the power is absolute in the hand of elected representatives which may be run in autocratic or dictatorship style and voice of the citizen may be muffled. Changes can only be brought when the time for next election comes, if ever.

The Politician

Modern political rhetoric; Digital Artwork

The ultimate effect of all these theories or philosophies culminates into how these are translated by the politicians into an application to form a bonafide government? Each theory tries to provide the best of the governance method for the sake of the citizens but what matters is the execution of the principles of the respective theory.

The politics is played by the politicians who function in a group formed by a party which always follows a given agenda which they need to fulfill. That is fair. There is nothing wrong in it. But problems arise when that party dilutes the principles of the theory due to their angular interests. Over a period of time most of the autocratic and dictatorship theories have lost their intensity due to various social and industrial revolutions.

Present prevailing theories are more of democratic in nature with citizen’s involvement. These mostly are of republic nature with different types of control between executive and legislature. In total, about 195 recognised countries under the UN, 151 countries are Republic, 40 countries are under constitutional Monarchy and 4 are under absolute Monarchy.

Republic has various forms, viz, presidency is independent of legislature (US), presidency elected by legislature, ministry may or may not be under the legislature (Switzerland), president independent of legislature, ministry is subject to parliamentary confidence (Russia), ministry is subject to parliamentary confidence (India), power constitutionally linked to a single party movement (China).

Before progressing further the difference between Republic and Democracy may be understood: Republic: "A state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives..." Democracy: "A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives."

A politician is both a legislator and executive. While in parliament they legislate bill of law for the social, economic or administrative benefit of the population. The bill is discussed, debated and passed by the majority. Thereafter politicians are obliged to execute the same laws when they are holding ministerial positions or in their respective constituencies through the government agencies. In both the occasions they need to be honest to the purpose.

It is now clear that almost 98% of the population is governed by the politicians. We should, therefore, be entitled, as Aristotle once said, to choose our own politicians. But how do we do it? What would be the criterion?

Here, I would like to take the assistance of Chanakya. He has mentioned the following traits for selection of a king or today’s politicians.

  • Has self-control
  • Learns continuously and cultivates his thoughts
  • He avoids false and flattering advisors and instead associates with the true and accomplished elders
  • Genuinely promoting the security and welfare of his people
  • Enriches and empowers his people
  • Lives a simple life and avoids harmful people or activities
  • Keeps away from six: lust, anger, greed, conceit, arrogance and foolhardiness
  • Gains the loyalty of his people because he is just
  • Knowledge
  • Understanding of the administration.
  • Relationship with the neighbours and foreign policy
  • Defence

Main criterion is to work for the common good. But what is also very important is one should be self educated to be able to choose the correct leader.

Politicians must discharge his duty with complete honesty delinking from party politics while discharging the duties of governance.

Considering the present political environment prevailing in the world today proper understanding of the politics and need of choosing the correct type of leader is very important. One needs to understand what has been the ethos of the political theories, what is politics and its purpose and what should be criteria of choosing a leader is most necessary.

(Lt Col. MK Guptaray is an author of two books; Sri Lanka Misadventure, coauthored with Col Gautam Das and Birth of a Nation on Bangladesh war of 1971. He is a seasoned veteran of the 1971 war; where he had the privilege to participate in the Naogan Sector under 104 Brigade, 19 Division.

He participated in Op-Pawan in 1987 capturing over half the Jaffna Town within 5 days of landing at Palali airport with barely a strength of 220 to start with which reduced to 180 in no time. He has held various A, Q and G staff appointments from Brigade to command level.

He was born on 23rd October 1946 in village Madhabi, Dhaka District, of undivided India prior to partition. Moved into Kolkata in 1950 graduated from Kolkata and joined OTA on 13th April 1968 and commissioned on 12 Jan 1969. Joined 9 Sikh. He is presently having a retired life in Pune.)

(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')

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