Old Age And the Politician

“You are old, father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head —
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”
“In my youth,” father William replied to his son,
“I feared it would injure the brain;
But now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”

– Lewis Carroll.

Should politicians retire? The controversy started when Sudarshan, the head honcho at RSS, (India’s premier ultra-right-wing party) suggested that ex-PM Vajpayee and his man-Friday Advani should retire. Politicans cut across party lines to give a resounding thumbs down to the idea. Not that Vajpayee and Advani should not retire but that there should be a retirement age for politicians.

Keen and not-so-keen observers of the Indian political landscape know one fact. Indian politicians are dreadfully old. All of them lived through the Cold War, most of them had Hitler as their contemporary—-some of them may have even been present on earth when Archduke Ferdinand was bumped off. Had they been in any other profession, they would have been laid out on easychairs doing nothing, enjoying a pensioned life .

Well as politicians, they also do practically nothing. But they enjoy a 5-star lifestyle on taxpayer’s money—-and wasting someone else’s cash and doing nothing—-there is no upper age limit for that. So by that logic, there is no need to retire.

Case in point, Atal-ji, the great poet Prime Minister. As long as he spoke like an ex-boxer who had one too many upper cuts, we were fine. A good politician deliberates before speaking—even in the middle of the sentence. When we learnt that he would have one-too-many drinks in the evening while he was the Prime Mininster, we were aghast. Not at him but at the Time reporter who dared call the supersage “asleep at the wheel”. A little alcohol is good for an old man’s heart—we know that.

When Atal-ji came out to address the nation wearing one shoe—-even then we do not think him too old for the job. After all don’t even toddlers often rush out to play in unmatched footwear? Falling asleep during meetings of the committee for national security —-ook how many of us young people can stay awake at office meetings? So let’s not point fingers here.

However, the problem starts when senility reaches such an advanced stage that politicians start speaking the truth inadvertently. If there is one thing that symbolizes the total breaking-down of a politician’s grip on reality, it is this. In parliament, Atal Bihari Vajpayee said that in his over five decades of tenure in Parliament,

“I have continuously violated the dignity and decorum of the House.”

What he meant to say was exactly the opposite but Mr Vajpayee, no doubt on account of his advanced age, had a rare moment of epiphany. Which is a sure sign he should retire.

Of course, Mr Vajpayee can take comfort from the case of Siddhartha Shankar Ray, ex- Chief Minister of West Bengal. Mr Ray had been with the Congress for ages and then left it. Only to come back to it again like a true-blue politician. However, age had taken toll of his faculties. So one day, standing in the floor of the State Assembly he yelled to the amused treasury and stunned opposition benches—” I shall rip the mask off the face of the Congress Party.” Now that is standard rhetoric. What was non-standard was that Mr Ray was then the president of the Congress Party in Bengal. Which of course he had forgotten.

So where is the comfort? Well Mr Ray did this almost 15 years ago and he is still going strong—acting as Sourav Ganguly’s lawyer.

So buck up Mr Vajpayee. Though common wisdom would dictate a life of booze and poetry from now on, it is still not time for you to stop serving the country. Just go a little bit easy on the truth and we will all be fine.

8 thoughts on “Old Age And the Politician

  1. Hilarious ! Second that.

  2. lol

    That was damn funny…well like many other of your posts.

    Yeah true indian politicians are awfully old and most of them have dreadful personalities. Time for some change…

    Well there is some of it happening already. Rahul Gandhi, Sachin Pilot, Omar Abdullah are a few prominent names. How politically-adept they are is a subject for speculation and something that time will throw a light on. But they sure look good! 🙂

  3. Thanks Aparna.

    At least there are some “hot” male politicians (not that I appreciate male beauty ahem) but there seems to be no hot female politicians. Unless you count filmstar-turned-politicians like Jaya Prada who in any case turn to politics once they become as cold as Siberia.

  4. Well just started going through your blog and this one was..well..hilarious to say the least

  5. what matters is not age but individwalwhat he make makes of his vacation.

  6. Hara hara bom bom September 18, 2007 — 5:47 pm

    Forget about a maximum age limit, our Lok Sabha is graced by a MINIMUM age limit; one has to be at least 75 years old.

    This does not mean physically 75 years. You may be 42, but if you can display all the characteristics of a 75 year old doddering grandiose patriarch in his declining years, you are ideally qualified. These include at least 5 of the following :

    (a) Waist line above 50 inches

    (b) Waist line below 20 inches (men)

    (c) Inability to straighten body beyond 30 degree tilt

    (d) semi-blind

    (e) semi-deaf (some cases completely deaf is necessarily)

    (g) Falling asleep even before a speech (if opponent’s speech)

    (f) Falling asleep within the first 2 minutes of speech (if colleague’s speech)

    (g) Falling asleep after within first 5 minutes of speech (if your own speech)

    (h) Starting speech, losing plot, then rambling on incoherently hoping no one will notice (Vajpayee)

    (i) Squeaking in a high pitch, like gender bender recovering from ‘his’ op. (Manmohan)

    (j) Growl in an ursine baritone, like a gender bender recovering from ‘her’ op (can provide a name, but blushing)

    (k) laugh at your own bad jokes, provided no one else laughs

    (l) Hobble to the well of the house, forget why you went there, gesticulate anyway since the cameras are on

    (m) Come back to your seat, grin stupidly to hide the tears from the muscular pain from all that activity

    (n) Fall asleep again

    You will then be ideally qualified for a post there.

    There are many exceptions. You will still be admitted if you have at least of the following 3 :-

    (1) You are a criminal
    (2) You are a murderer
    (3) You have helped your relatives steal crores (you
    can apply for president)
    (4) Geeky coiffure & bad shirts (apply for president)
    (5) Bribes (at least Rs 25 crores) &/or smuggled 10
    women to USA on your wives (or wife’s) passport.
    (6) You have smuggled arms

    (7) If you are minority member, you will be allowed if you tickle your belly-button with both eyes shut (one eye shut for lowest castes).

    (8) Special exemption for member of particular minority sect if he can prove he has fully functional chemical explosives lab in his basements. Demonstration of operative RDX capability must (test on 2 Hindu temples).

    (9) Biggest requirement is that you need to be not dead.

    Life-support machines permitted for comatose.

  7. @ hara hara bom bom:


  8. Hara hara bom bom September 20, 2007 — 4:57 pm


    Thank you 🙂

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