Integrity and Competence
Now, for the kind of State we are discussing about, these two duties are sufficient – the destruction of the wicked and the protection of the good. A facet of ‘protection of the good’ is the nourishment of wealth creation by noble means.
If a State has to fulfil this duty towards its citizens, what the ministers need right at the start is integrity. The second requirement is a rudimentary worldly wisdom (political acumen). Along with this, even a little bit of worldly experience – and that is adequate. Anything more than this is definitely welcome. However, first it must be ascertained if integrity and competence in work are both present. In the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom, there were such ministers. They were honest and genuinely affectionate towards the people. They had worldly wisdom and a high level of competence in administration. Further, they did not get trapped in the snares of parties and factions. Over and above that, they were obedient to the king who was devoted to dharma. Owing to these reasons and their consequential influences, the Kingdom of Mysore was able to rise from a weak position to scale the heights of remarkable pinnacles in a matter of sixty years.
1. Our system of governance should align to our nature and our circumstances.
2. Politics is a small aspect of a person’s life. A part is not the whole. Therefore, the amount of time and space we allocate to politics should be within boundaries.
3. In a democracy—people’s rule—politics becomes a daily affair for the citizens. This assembly, that conflict, this debate, that declaration – this becomes the work day upon day.
4. From a desire to attain a position of power and authority, various parties, groups, gangs, and gatherings are born; their mutual competitions, strategies, schemes, conspiracies, intrigues, jealousies, and hatreds spread like wildfire and bring down the standards of morals and decorum; it destroys the citizens.
5. The leader of every political party turns out to be a talkative braggart and in a bid to demonstrate to the people that he is capable of helping them more than anyone else, he ends up taking on the construction of roads, schools, lakes, hospitals, and suchlike facilities in specific regions of his liking. In this manner, the expenses of the government pile up and the tax levied on the people increases.
6. In a similar manner, government staff and various governmental positions increase without limits leading to higher expenditure and naturally, unreasonable amounts of tax.
7. What in theory was the rule of the people ended up being the rule of the parties in practice.
tora māṇikavèṃdu piḍidare
ghora kèṃḍavidāytu śivaśiva
Clasped it, deeming it to be a large ruby
but it turned out to be a
ghastly glowing ember, O Śiva!
8. The State is like a plant, not like a wall. A plant grows due to its inner essence. If there is no life within a plant, any amount of water, manure, or a boundary wall does nothing to it. If people don’t have the inner essence, no amount of assemblies, public meetings, machines, and devices can be of help. We can build a huge wall with brick and mortar but such a scheme to raise [the standards of] people is not possible. Those who desire people development and social welfare must first work towards cultivating the inner sattva of people. This requires careful, mindful, and multifaceted attempts. It is an attempt to ensure mental and intellectual maturity of the people that leads to strengthening of their moral and ethical fabric.
9. The system of governance should be fairly simple and straightforward so that the common man can understand it. It should not be so complex that only the cleverest and most brilliant people can comprehend it.
10. The State should not fall for extreme adventures or extreme modernity. It need not maintain a strict status quo but its growth and development should align with its history and tradition. It is impossible to completely erase history and traditional customs.
11. To think that we can build a prosperous State with all-round perfection and a society that is wealthy and righteous is an illusion. Both the State and society are creations of humans and will have the nature of humans. The shortcomings and flaws that are so common in human beings will raise their ugly heads in society at least every once in a while – just as there is dust accumulating on our bodies every second. There are only two responses to this: one is to regularly wash and two, to tolerate that which cannot be washed. Those who desire the yoga-kṣema—gain and well-being—of the society should practice and cultivate, at least to some extent, patience and forbearance.
12. We have to completely forsake the thoughts of revolution. Revolution is a mind-set that reeks of rājasa [relentless activity, obsession] and rākṣasa [demonic, wicked]. That must be brought down, this must be crushed, the other must be uprooted – this sort of constant emotional turmoil [and iconoclasm] is the basic nature of revolution. Peace of mind and happiness will never arise in society as long as this revolutionary mind-set is prevalent.
13. The three branches of the government – legislative, executive, and judiciary – should be equally strong and must mutually repair and refine one another. No single limb of the government should exhibit high-handedness or adopt a big brother attitude.
14. The head of the State (Governor) must be endowed with suitable powers to set right any shortcoming in the work undertaken by any branch of the government or to mediate clashes between two limbs of the government.
15. Every branch of the government, every government department should respect the traditional practices of the past. Tradition is simply the voice of the people over a long period of time. The opinion of the parliament in the year 1969 AD is the citizens’ opinion of that year; tradition is the public opinion of 1,969 years put together.
16. Dharma is greater than all human acrobatics and tricks. The Divine is far stronger than human strength. In all matters of State, the vision of Dharma and reverence to the Divine should become the foundational bedrock.
We must always bear in mind the word of advice given by Devī Kuntī to her son Yudhiṣṭhira –
…dharme te dhīyatāṃ buddhiḥ
manastu mahadastu ca
– Āśramavāsika-parva 23.21
Use your intellect to meditate upon dharma
and let your mind be great!