Political culture in India


The Political culture in India has now become an important part of the study of political system of country in view of the realization that every political system is embedded in a particular pattern of orientation towards political actions. The political culture of the people refers to the belief, convictions , views and commitment in relation to the political values and institutions. It thus provides the subjective orientation to politics. It refers not to what is happening in the world of politics but what people believe about this happenings. It gives a systematic structure of values and rational considerations which ensures coherence in the performance of Institutions and organisations.

Political culture in India has the Peculiar character of being traditional in some respect, modern in some other and also a curious hotchpotch of the two in certain aspects. People’s attachment with the bonds of casteism, parochialism communalism, tribalism and the like constitute the clear case of traditional Indian political culture. On the other hand the movement for more and more educational and social reforms, democratization of decision making centers, opportunities for employment characterizes instances of modern political culture, which in fact is the definite result of dispersion of powers post-independence. If the element of tradition prevails in the rural and relatively backward region of the country, the component of modernity is visible in the language of the constitution, system of law and Justice in the courts, composition and functioning of Legislative bodies, running of administrative machinery, role of press and working of political parties. In other words, modernity expresses itself in policies and interest, programs and plans, deliberations and decisions and so on.

As India characterizes democratic secular and social system it is pertinent to make a distinction between its Elite and mass political culture. While elite Political culture in India is legacy of the colonial rule, the emerging mass political culture is the consequence of freedom struggle .Naturally the leaders of emerging mass culture condemn the class of elites as the ‘band of exploiters’ and strive as well as struggle for their participation in the avenues of power .They take inspiration from the forces of tradition but they also desire to take advantage of the advanced political and administrative apparatus of the country .The significant consequence of this change and the greater developmental activities undertaken by government is that the authoritative image of the government is being replaced by a more instrumental view .This is visible in the high expectations of the rural people in regards to the services government can perform for them.

However it is to be noted that both these kinds of Political culture in India are not wholly traditional or modern. In fact they are a complex amalgam of both .Different kinds of loyalties cut across each other and politics play the role of a great unifier. When such person manage to secure the control of national government, they face the formidable task of making the emerging mass political culture acceptable to the national elite while at the same time they make intelligent modification in their own mass culture so that it is truly conducive both to democratic Nation and modernization.

The pattern of Political culture in India thus lacks homogeneity. There are a series of caste ,community cultures and a National Public culture on top of them .In other words there are two levels of cultural orientation in politics, one at the level of society, individual  elite which cut across all the division of region and language thus have an all India frame. But there are also specific folk orientation towards authority, power, symbolism which is more real and representative of the folk culture in which people live .This whole spectrum ranges from looking at authority with a sense of reverence mixed with awe to that of openly challenging it and attempting to grab it for the realization of political ends. Thus the party functionaries are less concerned with the specific politics and the ideology of the people rather they are behind the access to power

Lastly the saintly tradition has influenced the making of Indian political culture .People pay great respect to those who renounce all worldly pleasures for the sake of doing social service and their words have an electrical effect on the behaviour of the people.They treat politics not as struggle for power but as a mode of public service as can be visualized in the role of mahatma Gandhi ,Vinoba Bhave, jayaprakash Narayan. However this culture has its Dark Side in the form of shrewd leaders assuming the role of saint for being successful in politics .The head of the religious places becoming the masters of the politicians and it is possible that they adopt ways where struggle against power becomes a mask for struggle for power

In essence the Political culture in India represents a Peculiar blend of tradition modernity and saintliness. The presence ,confrontation and in fact the mixing of all the three dominate the Indian political scene and gives it a distinct tone.However as a matter of anxiety, trend of Immoral politics is emerging.This brand of politics is characterized by decline of the political values associated with democratic institutions .Many politicians and their children are in league with black marketers or criminal elements and yet are rarely penalized for their transgressions.They are considered to be free looters interested only in plunder and power and they may be called ‘ half educated money making simpletons’

The decline of Creative leadership resulted in the use of extra constitutional and non constitutional means and is becoming an accepted part of political behaviour. Thus the technique of ahimsa and Satyagraha as evolved and practiced by Gandhi are becoming irrelevant in today’s political culture.

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