How many people refuse to be the Prime Minister to spend time with their family? Last time someone who gave up the PM’s post in India was Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. She did so because of political compulsions and, many even claimed, out of fear of her life. But she never gave up politics. Instead, Sonia controlled the Manmohan Singh government for 10 years from outside.
Indian politicians can, however, take some lessons from New Zealand Prime Minister John Key who resigned on Monday after ruling the country for eight years. Key was expected to contest his fourth General Election in 2017. But like champion cricketers, who often retire when they are at the top of their game, Key too put in his papers when he was on the top of his game.
Key became New Zealand PM for the first time in 2008 and won consecutive elections in 2011 and 2014. He also steered the 4.7 million people of New Zealand out of the economic crisis in 2008 and put the country on the growth part. However, unlike most of the Indian politicians, Key never felt like remaining in politics forever.
Key was expected to contest his fourth general election next year. But he said he wanted to ensure he didn’t make the same mistake as other world leaders, and instead wanted to retire while being on the top of his game.
“But despite the amazing career I have had in politics, I have never seen myself as a career politician. I have certainly never wanted my success in politics to be measured by how long I spent in Parliament,” Associated Press quoted the outgoing New Zealand PM as saying.
Watch Johk Key’s resignation speech
Key also said the prime ministership came with a lot of costs for him. “For my wife Bronagh, there have been many nights and weekends spent alone, many occasions that were important to her that I simply could not attend. My daughter Stephie and my son Max have transitioned from teenagers to young adults while coping with an extraordinary level of intrusion and pressure because of their father’s job,”AP quoted him as saying.
In India, there is a retirement for age for all kinds of jobs. But not in politics. You can be a politician as long as you can stand. This is one of the reasons why India remains behind world’s leading countries in many fields — be it education, health, or other good things of life. You can’t expect an old horse to win you a race today. Yet Indian political parties take pride in being led by old leaders. It is claimed that old leaders, with their experience, can guide both the party and the country in times of crisis. This, however, never happens.
All jobs require experience. But too much experience often kill the job itself. For too much experience often comes laden with an apathy to experiment or new ideas. It breeds status quoism in the system and harms the evolution process in society. Will Indian politician learn something from Key?
(With agency inputs)