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Sycophancy – Thy name is Progress

“Frailty, thy name is woman”, because frailty is not her name indeed. I wouldn’t be incorrect if I say, “frailty, thy name is sycophancy”, because it is the tool of weak and incapable, rightly opined by Dr Awadesh kumar Saxena,Joint Secretary to GOI former, Policy, HR Mgmt.,Administration, Relationship,Compliance.Currently with Prasar Bharati.


The Indian politician is always peculiar when compared to his fellow politicians world over.The average Indian politician likes to be flattered.The degree of flattery or the height to which it  reaches depends on the party to which he belongs to and to which part of  India he hails from. Every political party of India is guilty of unabashed sycophancy,with varying degrees. The fawning nature of Indian politics, whereby many leaders are surrounded by yes-men and rarely bother to learn how to laugh at themselves, makes such jokes all too rare in the public sphere. Strong cultural codes about deferring to elders provide another stumbling block, with the average age of a cabinet minister hovering around 65.


Sycophancy in power politics is perhaps as old as politics itself. Since time immemorial politicians jockeying for positions of power and pelf have invariably had recourse to this time-tested tactics to curry favour with overlords empowered to decide their fate and fortune. The long and repetitive honorifics tagged with the names of ‘Rajas’, ‘Badshahs’ and ‘Emperors’ during princely rule and supposed to be proclaimed ad nauseum by minions provide proof positive not only of the bloated sense of superiority of the rulers but also of a crying need for sustenance in a larger than life self-image-a tinge of megalomania. In the exalted Mughal court visitors including members of nobility had to walk backward after paying obeisance to His/Her exalted Majesties because showing back to the ‘Badshah’ or to the ancient Roman Caesers was impermissible. Those were customs or codes of conduct but sycophancy remains a potent weapon in a favour-seeker’s arsenal as much as it retains its potency.


Gyani Zail Singh, Indira’s nominee to the post of president of India, had retained his old loyalty till the storming of Golden Temple by Indian army under orders of his political guardian angel. During his tenure as President, Zail Singh had once stepped forward to open the door of Indira Gandhi’s official vehicle when the Lady had gone to inform her one-time minion of certain government decisions. History was repeated recently in tragedy as in a widely-publicised photograph of the Ex -president Pratibha Debising Patil came tantalisingly close to resembling an obedient pupil, cringing with folded hands while greeting Sonia Gandhi standing upright in all her sartorial elegance.


While D.K.Barooah was serving as Congress President he had reportedly made a controversial statement eulogising Indira Gandhi then Prime Minister his words I quote here ‘Indira is India and India is Indira’. This flattery within not time reached the citizens of India and invited scathing criticism as also sarcasm. True, there must have been innumerable numbers in Congress who were left with delight and happiness on listening to his remarks and also many extending ‘Kudos’ to Barooah for making a bold and courageous statement flattering Indira. Indian National Congress from its very inception was carrying such sycophants over its shoulders – there were countless of them – there are still countless of them even after much water flowed down river Ganga. Barooah’s controversial flattery is still etched in the minds of many Indian citizens though many abhor and deplore it in no uncertain terms. Such sycophants are likened to dogs wagging their tails in front of their masters, even if they are kicked around by their masters.


Former Indian President Gyani Zail Singh too had reportedly made a flattering statement about the then Supremo of the party, Indira Gandhi. He was reportedly quoted as saying ‘ if Indiraji orders me to sweep the floors I will sweep them with a broom’.


Most of us have witnessed sycophants competing with each other in according warm receptions to the heir-apparent Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Vadra, while paying visits either to our State or any other States shouting full-throated slogans praising them or dwell upon them to hold charge of Congress President or Ministers and lead all from the front.


Today,even rational debate in political parties is a no no.In the UK,political parties have always had backbenchers whose job it is to question their own party and to espouse causes close to their heart.In India,if that happens you are suspended for so called anti party activities. The so called saviour of Dalits Ms Mayawati rules with an iron fist and doesn’t tolerate dissent.In the Congress,as long as you say nice things about the Gandhi family,your ascent is guaranteed.


Defeat of Congress in UP elections have raised serious questions over the credibility and leadership skills of Rahul Gandhi. Few years back when Rahul Gandhi was not willing to enter politics, many of the Congress top leaders commented on camera that “Machali ke bachchon ko tairaki sikhne ki jaroorat nahin hoti, unhe janam se hi tarina aata hai”, this was in context of Rahul Gandhi that he does not need to learn politics it is in his genes. The recent results would force all those political leaders to rethink.


The other impact of Congress loss in UP would be that all those leaders who were wanting Rahul to become Prime Minister would be silenced and would allow Rahul to study India and Indian politics in a better way.


The actual problem of Indian politics is Chamchagiri (Sycophancy) and this can be very easily seen in the Congress party and many other parties where party cadets start worshipping a new comer who is some relative of an influential politician and don’t bother to judge him based on his actions. Most of the people get promotion wholly based on Chamchagiri. Indira Gandhi herself said that “My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.”. We think all Indian political parties should seriously ponder about this quote from Indira Gandhi and bring the necessary change in Indian politics.


Most of the newspapers reported the peculiar frenzy that caught the entire state of Tamil Nadu the last couple of years. Very few actors can command the kind of brand loyalty that Rajnikant commands all over the country .The city saw some cut outs of the actor being bathed (abishekam) with milk, (a criminal waste of milk which could have been given to the poor who can’t afford it) which made me think :- Why in India, do we always need someone to look up to?


Be it Politics, Films, Industry, even Bureaucracy  in India, we always cut out heroes from the rest, and start worshipping them.  I am not saying that we should not have heroes in our life. We should have them, but with a liberal dose of skepticism as well.


The Attitude that we develop because of sycophancy is, “The leader cannot be wrong” and we blindly do whatever he or she does, or accept whatever they say, without reasoning. India got its independence in such a unique way through Non violence only because of the exceptional leadership of our tall Netas then. It is said that Sardar Vallabai Patel, used to read all the newspapers from all over the country everyday, to understand and assimilate what is happening all over the nation.


Prof. Shrikant Prasoon says,“Sycophancy is the art of flattery. A sycophant praises a powerful and important person too much and in a way which is not sincere, especially in order to get some favour from him or her. Sycophants are not actually admirers. They have their vested interest and the praise is always loud and insincere.


He goes on to say, “In fact, a sycophant, flatterer is an intellectual person; a good judge of nature and situation; possess presence of mind ; has command over certain words; well-rehearsed way of presentation; a mellifluous tongue and immense patience to wait for the right moment. They rehearse their words many times silently before uttering them.”


It is this sycophancy that breeds despotism in any democracy including political parties. Despotism flourishes on sadism and the propagation of one’s overweening egotist tendencies, which are usually products of a self-indulging love of oneself above others, while sycophancy evolves from flattery enmeshed in servility–both draw from a deceitful and chameleonic undercurrent of self-fullness to further a particular agenda.


It is nauseating to see supposedly responsible, respectable men and women, including the vulnerable youths, engaging in this national charade. They walk about with an offensive, putrefying trademark, “Politics for money”. Ask them what their ideology is and you will be stunned by their lack of analytical depth and easy-virtuousness. They ply their trade with the ultimate target of fleecing their victims. Sycophancy among our present crop of politicians is mind numbing. Nearly every Indian is involved in one form of sycophancy or another to the detriment of our democracy and national development. The non-performance by our leaders is a product of sycophancy. So, leaders pay to be told what they want to hear. They loathe the truth and see anybody who tells them the truth as an enemy. For how long shall we live in this deceit?


Today, India’s leadership in almost every field be it business, industry, real estate, shopping malls, automobiles, converting agriculture land into concrete jungles or stone throwing during riots, is undisputed.  It is only in this country that stone throwing has not only become a culture, it has become a profession. I only hope that they do not start a stone throwing academy at some point of time. However, these aberrations apart, India’s growth in terms of business and industry cannot be disputed.


Such a resurgent country cannot and should not be bogged down by sycophancy. I am waiting for the day when every Indian thinks that he or she is his or her own leader.


The more we allow sycophancy to thrive the more we will suffer. We have to ensure sycophancy does not thrive in all walks of life and for that only we are responsible. There is no point blaming politicians all the time. Sycophancy is eating up the soul and conscience of the nation. It is also turning some people into despots and tin-gods. These over-bloated leaders now see themselves as above the law and above man. Sycophancy creates a cocoon around the leaders which prevent the leader from becoming acquainted with reality. These results not only sub optimal decision by leaders but also insensitive, inhuman action. So sycophancy, while it may serve the interest of sycophants for time being, is not only immoral but also bad for public and their leaders. Sycophancy results in a society that doesn’t respect merit and is deeply corrupted with inefficiencies. Here many persons who involved in non rationale attitude towards their political master are provided with incentives. These people’s blindfold faith and praise increase confidence of unworthy candidates who are sure of their success with just following their masters. This reduces the chances of entrance of any good candidate in politics. Hence results in political corruption and maligning of the system. Cronyism is not the problem of just politics it is widespread in each and every profession. Finally, Proper evaluation of merit and then rewarding the same is needed not only for moral reasons but also for proper working of the system.



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