“Education plays an important role in politics today”
KALIKESH NARAYAN SINGH DEO
Member of Parliament from Bolangir, Orissa and Bolangir District President, Biju Janta Dal
At 13, I was going through a village with my father, it was early in the morning and our car broke down. We walk to the nearest village and seeing us there, the entire village woke up. They gave us a lot of respect because of my father and grandfather. We were taken to a small hut with an old couple almost starving and on the verge of dying. On seeing this, my father took immediate action. Soon help arrived and the couple were taken to the hospital and looked after. This made me realise the impact can have on the public, the people, on a large number of people. Also there was hope in the eyes of the people, when we were sitting there. There were expectations in the eyes of the people, it gave me a sense of responsibility about working for the future. That is what motivated me to begin with. At 18, I decided that I will get into politics. I don't know of any other profession in India, which gives you the platform to be a change agent both at the micro and macro level. I also knew that for the first ten years of my life I would not be in politics. I would be doing my own thing experiencing life, worked as an investment banker, worked as an energy project developer.
The way forward
Education plays a huge role in politics today. I think the level and quality of politics is determined by the quality of voters. If the voters elect good people, one will have good governance and good polity. If voters elect people for reasons other than merit and development, such as, caste, religion or fear or inducements, then you will get a quality of people who tend to swerve towards activities that are not merit based or development oriented. That is where education comes in. The more educated the voter hopefully more awake he will be in making his choices.
Corruption is of two kinds; transaction corruption and a political or policy level corruption. Transactional corruption has been there from the days of the Mughal’s and the British. The way to fight this is through technology. Policy level corruption is however more of a systemic overhaul. I think the idea of discretion should be taken away from politicians. Movements, such as, the Anna Hazare movement, are a positive development. They show that the youth are getting involved and civil society can bring attention to an issue, which is a direct concern to them without being in a political sphere. I may or may not agree completely with Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal bill but he has certainly put corruption on the centre stage of politics as well as civil society in the years to come.
Students need to be more awake and actively participate in the current situations. Even though they can prioritise their own lives in terms of jobs or immediate surroundings. A sense of awareness and involvement with the civil society should be there. The local body elections now see the participation of young people. There has been a revelation of the youth in politics at this level. It will take a while to peculate to the MLA or MP level but this is a good beginning. The youth is more receptive to issues such as climate change and HIV, especially, the urban youth. I think the current format to spread awareness on these issues is through the urban youth. To institutionalise both awareness at a student level and keep them actively involved in programmes that allow them to participate and spread the awareness themselves.
I think politics is not a very organised career so you can’t really plan. There is no hierarchical system. My driving force in politics is development at a grassroot level and that is what keeps me going. My heart is in the state.