ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The ‘Right and Wrong’ in Indian Politics


The question of what is right and what is wrong has become far more relevant in the contemporary context of Indian politics than ever before. Unfortunately, such a moral question has been sought to be defined in the tragic context of violent atrocities committed against Dalits, Adivasis, minorities, women, and farmers. The television anchors from some of the pro-government channels, which are seemingly and frontally on the side of ruling political order, are seen defining politics as narrow opportunism in order to accuse the members who express a dissenting voice as following such a version of politics. These supporters, thus, seek to colour even the genuine feelings of sympathy, remorse, and humanity with the victims of atrocities and communal violence. To rubbish these feelings of solidarity, these supporters often use the term “political tourism” in order to belittle the visits by those who sympathise with the victims. Such accusations on the protesting voices, ironically, suggest that the question of right and wrong does not fall within the realm of instrumental politics. In the context of this conception of the right and wrong in Indian politics, we need to ask this central question: Is instrumentalism internal to politics?

Nothing is political in itself. Something becomes political depending on which side of the moral and constitutional principle one stands. Standing on the side of dignity, human rights, justice, freedom or standing against discrimination and violation of human rights does involve political action—action that does not undercut the moral significance of the principles involved. The intention to rubbish the ethical initiatives taken by some to side with the victims of an atrocity is deeply political on the grounds that it seeks to deflect public attention from the wrong that the government has done in not following constitutional principles and ensuring the rule of law. Similar is the tendency to arrogate to oneself the moral authority to decide what is political and what is beyond political. Is not releasing the feeling of remorse or sympathy in a discriminatory manner political? We have often come across the supporters of the ruling political order who seem to be following what is described as the “sympathetic gradient.” The moral formula of sympathetic gradient is symptomatic of the discriminatory approach that is applied by the powerful or the privileged to selectively release and withhold the flow of emotions. Thus, we have often seen the supporters of the ruling dispensation express their sympathies with those who either share their ideological orientation or are closer to their political interest. Such supporters lose no time in sympathising with those who are closer to their political and ideological interests and designs. Inversely, the sympathies of government supporters tend to dry up for the victims who are distanced from the interests mentioned above. Even the sense of remorse that the Prime Minister displayed in his announcement of the withdrawal of the three farm laws was belated. In addition, the motivation for remorse for the mistake underlying the three farm laws, arguably, is motivated by political interests that have a bearing on the forthcoming assembly elections in five states.

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Updated On : 18th Dec, 2021
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