How to become a politician? (India)

The why. You want to change the system and do some real work you can take pleasure in than just whining about it. Get that road straightened, or better, a new one carved! But then, you have your principles and you don’t want to break them – and politics is about doing away with all the principles. Bull shit, it is about breaking principles, so what? Like they said in “Page Three”, “To change the system, you have to be in the system“. So break those bloody principles you have and do stuff to get to the top. Don’t lose sight of your aims and of what you were and when you get there, re-establish the real you.

The good. Contrary to belief, you really don’t have to be a son of a tycoon to become a politician – though it would certainly help a lot. Money is the goer in Indian politics today, but not the only one.

Let’s look at the timelines first. You start today with one of the few options we explore here, and you would probably take another 10 years to reach at the top – if everything falls right in place. Even if you are partly successful, it will take you to a position where you can do a considerably lot more than just whine.

The first option is to enroll into the civil services. This works best, since the chances of entering the political arena are a million times more than any of the other ways in. The plan is simple:

  1. Get ready for the civil services entrance exams conducted by UPSC.
  2. The hardest part is clearing the Mains, but well, you’re preparing for something larger in your mind – the Indian Polity, so this is nothing.
  3. Be in service for another 8-10 years, make your contacts and get your voluntary retirement when a party promises you a ticket.
  4. Even if your party, whoever it is, gets you to organize an election – you still can change a lot. It’s not about getting elected, the power to do anything at all on those levels can help you move stuff faster.
  5. With clear objectives, you can even do a lot of stuff if you are just a manager/organizer/adviser in a State/National party committee – since the only thing that matters is getting stuff done.

Obviously, I am imagining that you want to be a politician to be a change catalyst – and not a money minter. I hope you are never successful in case you are planning all of this for the latter. :|

The second way in is to apply to a local political party. The best time, when they need most help, is during an election (any election). You can showcase your public speaking skills, your education, your background, your negotiation skills – anything at all. Chances of your getting in at organizational levels are very high. They even pay a salary to individuals. Now, it is mentionable, that at every level of these options – there will be a tough job for you to get through by playing some “real games” in life. Did you hear, “you can never please everyone”? Get it out of your head. Time to change age-old adages and get them wrong is what your attitude should be.

The third option, and the real way that was devised to get into the system is… In most circumstances, you are already late for this. This was through being elected at the university level as a president for a youth wing of a particular party. This doesn’t apply to a lot of states where University politics has been banned or is extremely controlled. You don’t have to be the president per se, but this is the best arena you can sharpen your skills to get to the top.

The fourth way in is by going to the village of your dreams (or where you can associate yourself the closest). You attend the Panchayats, become a helping hand in every possible way and get to become one of the Panchs. Then you work your way up to the top. It would take a lot more time this way, but this is by far the easiest ways in for the urban-educated masses if they can understand and relate to rural problems. If you can’t take life without a packet of weekend, you have to practice and live with it.

The bad. These are a few of the ways to get there – all that sure looks easy but ain’t so. Not to disappoint you, but power comes after great risks but with greater benefits and even greater responsibility. Won’t talk about the benefits & responsibility, but now follow the risks and the tough part.

Civil services are not for onboarding politicians. The idea of it being a launchpad is since it’s the closest you can be with a real politician. Since you get close to them, you can tell them how you want to be one of them. There are threats though. 90 of 100 politicians today don’t want newcomers. Nepotism is what reigns there. So you have to be at the right place, with the right people and to complete it, at the right time with the right words. You risk getting far-posted and at worse, getting deported or even worse – getting stripped & jailed for things you never did.

Getting to work at a local office of a political party is no fun. You deal with people who themselves have been there for ages and have dreamt of becoming the CM-then-PM. To compete with such political nerds, who have nothing but fetishes of power, it’s a completely different game. Threat to life is the worse that it can get. Don’t try it if you are not a local yourself or cannot act like one. That is the best pretext to get you thrown out if they find out.

Studying in a University infested with a political system is the worst thing a student wants to do in India. But who said you were a student? You wanted to be a politician – and being a student who gets a degree at the end is just a side-effect. Since such Universities are numbered, your chances of getting into the University get lower since you again have to be a local to get all the advantages. To get to the top, you’d have to do things that you never believed in.

Of course, the surest way is always the longest – though with lesser risks (depending upon how aggressive the environment is). Getting into the Panchayati system (which is completely different from the state-union), makes sure you can do your stuff, strike a chord with the local polity and get to work on real-life projects that will alter the way people lead their life. The only thing it doesn’t do is – do it fast. So being in the realm of your final objectives all the time is going to be very critical. In most cases, this will be the most rewarding experience since you will see change happening as you go – and unlike the other options above, you’d get to do stuff right from the beginning.