ever thought why democracies fail to turn political rhetoric into reality? why phenomenally good speakers who command wide public support hardly deliver even a fraction of what they promise? this is because the ‘by the people’ aspect of democracy gives birth to leaders who possess good oratory skills but lack the requisite competence to govern with efficiency and integrity.
india is being self-ruled by representatives chosen by the public since more than seven decades. this is a long time, long enough to eradicate the curses of income inequality, extreme poverty and limited access to education and healthcare. public sector institutions are still riddled with corruption and bureaucracy at all levels lacks both skills and intent to perform their duties in the desired manner.
it can be said that the electorate is yet to identify competent leaders out of a market that is inundated with politicians subscribing to different ideologies. voters tend to back politicians who have the best oratory skills. these politicians are great marketers, for they can strongly influence public opinion by way of delivering great speeches and addresses. they know what it takes to make listeners happy and ecstatic – it can be an empty promise of ‘complete eradication of poverty’ or of ‘paving way for good days for all’.
but governance is no product. governance cannot and should not be marketed. hoardings, banners, public addresses and all other marketing material used by political parties have now breached the legitimate limit of morality and sincerity. today, politicians are only selling dreams to buyers who get easily swayed by false promises- similar to advertisements promising fair skin.
politics, governance and leadership are unlike the marketing discipline. marketing simply means selling for profit, hence a good public speaker is perfect for the job since s/he can convince more and more people to buy the product, irrespective of product’s efficacy. by contrast, good governance relies on good intent and competence. it is a myth that a good orator is a good leader. no. a person with realistic vision and a well-defined strategy to implement that vision is a far better leader than someone with just good oratory skills.
indians have experimented with several political parties and ideologies to run the country. but in most cases, it was a politician who could market and sell tall promises effortlessly through public speeches that won wide support. in the upcoming elections, the electorate must shed the old codes and elect competent leaders who can reimagine and reform public sector institutions rather than claiming income equality and job opportunities only in conversations.
lastly, we are also to remember that good orators are, more often than not, bad leaders, for they place all their energies and skills in preparing and delivering empty promises.