Management students speak out against corruption.

Skeletons keep tumbling out of the cupboard of the Indian political class as corruption scandals tear apart the moral fibre of the nation. The common people knew all along that bribery, nepotism and swindling were omnipresent, but they used to suffer these cankers stoically. All that has changed lately. More and more courageous souls are coming out to take the bull by the horns.

So how do the youth view the rampant corruption in the country? Why are they hesitant to join politics and become an agent of change? Do they think that the political party to be floated by India Against Corruption campaigner Arvind Kejriwal will be able to make changes in Indian politics? Will they support a candidate backed by Mr. Kejriwal’s political party? Is it true that social activists and campaigners against corruption and nepotism fail to win elections despite getting a lot of attention for their initiatives?

The Hindu-EducationPlus caught up with youngsters at the School of Communication and Management Studies, Cochin, seeking answers, and they opened up on a wide variety of issues facing the nation.

Strange bedfellows

Development and corruption has a correlation, says Harigovind, first-year MBA student, who has lost count of the zeroes making the figures that the nation has lost in various scams.

“I don’t want my Prime Minister to be a mere puppet in the hands of a group of people. The Lokpal Bill drafted by the government has become the comedy of the millennium, customised to spread more scams. So, a new form of Lokpal should be introduced, which will not affect the free functioning of democracy and prevents corruption. It should be evolved by consensus,” he says.

Asked why the youth are hesitant to join politics, Siva Kumar K., another management student, speaks of a sense of disenchantment among them with politics and politicians.

“Youngsters are hesitant to join public life. Politics is even considered a dirty word. The young people are not given opportunities to prove themselves, claiming that they are not equipped with experience to participate actively in the governance of the country. This reason seems to be more logical seeing the monopoly of old leaders in almost all the major political parties of the country. Old people should realise that proper development can take place only when they make way for younger people to take control of the activities,” he says.

Explaining that only a leader with impeccable integrity and altruistic statesmanship can steer a movement of change in the country, Gayatri Nair, first-year student of a postgraduate diploma programme in management, says Mr. Arvind Kejriwal is under scrutiny on both those counts, significantly by his own colleagues like the former Supreme Court judge Santosh Hegde and Kiran Bedi.

“Can one play the dual role sincerely of a politician and that of a crusader against corruption? Anna Hazare is not convinced. He is asking the proverbial question: can one have the cake and eat it too? It is common in India that disgruntled politicians break away to form political parties for personal ambitions. Perhaps, Kejriwal also did just the same. Political parties cannot exist without money,” she says.

But Abhishek Kumar Sharma, another first-year diploma student, has a different take. Describing Mr. Kejriwal as someone who tries to swim against the tide, Abhishek says that the anti-corruption crusader is trying to bring a change to the present political system.

“We always criticise our political system by saying it is corrupt, full of dirt, but we never want to be the part of this mire. Someone someday has to take the initiative to clean this mire; otherwise, we will always criticise it. I have full faith in Arvind Kejriwal and on the candidates he is going to select for his party. It may take time and may be difficult to stand against the 100-year-old party, but it is not impossible for him. It is the duty of every citizen of country to support the person who is trying to bring the change,” he says.

Describing that the big question is can Mr. Kejriwal succeed where his predecessors had failed, Evita Liz Eldhose, diploma student, says there is a big difference between television politics and electoral politics, just as there is a yawning gap between the poverty alleviation programmes and the ground realities.

Single agenda

“For so long, Team Kejriwal had a single agenda of establishing a strong anti-corruption law. And the television middle-class cheered. However, the new political party has a grandiose goal, typified in its vision statement. Even with the hype created by the agitation and on-screen persona of Anna Hazare, it is doubtful whether the electoral middle-class will forgo its ties with caste, creed and local connections when it comes to the ballot,” she says.

Evita says Team Kejriwal may alienate the original constituency that created the movement in the first place by promoting a wider political agenda. “However, the question of how a top-to-bottom clean-up of the system will be achieved with the mere nudge of a media-backed agitation remains. Instead of an overarching goal of capturing national power, Team Kejriwal should try to win smaller constituencies, steadily establishing itself as an undeniable political entity,” she says. Strong views these youngsters have. But is the political class listening? Unlikely, going by what they are.