03 August, 2021

In The Singular: Hum Ek, Hamare Shoonya

Call it coincidence or civilisational ­acumen, atop mountains of the Indian political landscape sit ‘single’ leaders

Illustration by R. Prasad
In The Singular: Hum Ek, Hamare Shoonya

The profound ways in which modern democracies are inf­lected by dynasticism, it becomes an intriguing question—is singlehood an ideal state to be in for those who dedicate their life and work to a larger cause? Even with all his faults, the one who sought to craft a model life in politics is Gandhi. In the quasi-asc­etic prototype he created and tried to fill, the inner tension is immediately evident: the model strains towards singlehood; family is an encumbrance. Power naturally creates vested interests with a stake in continuing that power—whether through family or through a parallel group formation based around a set of ideas.  But dynasticism flows directly and exclusi­vely from descenda­ncy, like with the royal houses of old, and concentrates power within too narrow a pool—an essentially anti-democratic feature. Though it would be bizarre to imagine singlehood being in any way prescribed as an ideal for public life, by some stroke of acci­dent, Indian politics seems suddenly blessed with a whole pantheon of unmarried/single...

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