Monday, June 19, 2006

Indian politics: Do we need an upper age limit?

Do we need to specify an age limit for the politicians, or at least for those office bearers at very high positions? If you are in government service, you have to retire at the age of 58. But, what about the prime minister, chief ministers or ministers? Should we not have similar age limits?

I feel so embarrassed when I see people, who can hardly walk, take over the administration of the country. I fully agree that experience plays a major part when you have to manage such a big country. But, I believe there is an optimal point beyond which experience alone is not the criteria. I am not saying they should quit politics; they should stay on as advisers or senior ministers to guide and help the younger generation. India will prosper if the right combination of young and experienced can be formed.

Take for example, Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew became the first Prime Minister of Singapore in the year 1959 at the age of 35. He voluntarily stepped down to pave way for the next generation in the year 1990. He could have continued, as nobody was there to challenge either him or his People's Action Party (PAP). But, he didn't hang on there. He allowed Goh Chok Tong to become the next PM at the age of 49. Lee Kuan Yew didn't quit politics, but he stayed on to help the next PM. In Goh's cabinet, Lee held the position of Senior Minister. Goh was the PM for the period 1990 to 2004. After winning three elections comfortably, he stepped down to give way for the current PM Lee Hsien Loong. Lee became the PM at the age of 52 and won his first elections this year. Once again, the senior people did not leave the political scene. Lee Kuan Yew was made the Minister Mentor and Goh was made the Senior Minister.

The problem in Indian politics is the politicians do not decide who their second in command is. There is only one chief. If he is gone, then it is left to the rest of the party to fight it out to find the next leader. There are many examples in the Indian political history. This is not the right approach. You, as a leader, should form a team and a leader who is going to take over from you. Think about your party going into pieces after you. Is this what you wanted?

If Indian politicians can take a leaf out of the book of Singapore politics, it would benefit the entire country.


Post a Comment