| by N.S.Venkataraman
( November 21, 2012, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Mumbai virtually came to a halt on the funeral day of Bal Thackeray and taxis and all public transport stopped plying in the city and all shops and establishments were virtually closed. Such scenario and the massive crowd that assembled for the funeral procession of Bal Thackeray must have surprised those who do not understand the psyche of the Indian masses.
This is not the first time that such massive crowd gathered for the funeral procession of political leaders in India. When Mr. C N.Annadurai and Mr. M.G.Ramachandran in Tamil Nadu and Mr. N.T.Rama Rao in Andhra Pradesh passed away, similar large crowd did assemble for the funeral procession and in some cases a few people self immolated themselves and died due to heart attack and due to stampede.
Many of the admirers who feel so demonstratively despondent when their political leader dies may not show similar reactions even in the event of death occurring in their own families. What do these emotional outburst of the followers indicate ? Does it mean that they view these political leaders as demi God and believe that they are totally blemishless, honest and superior human beings ? Are they so naïve to think that these political leaders are persons of unique character ?
Such behaviour of the Indian masses indicate as to why the Indian political leadership is now becoming family centred and most of the political parties are organized now on the basis of loyalty to the families who are in control of the party , rather than loyalty to the policies and principles of the party. The hierarchy and succession to leadership in most of the political parties in India are based on blood relationship , with the sons and daughters or wife invariably succeeding to the leadership position. It has now become impossible for anyone outside the family of the top political leadership to occupy important positions in the party.
Obviously, the Indian masses all the time look for leaders and the spirit of self esteem in them appear to be quite low. Many photographs have appeared in the media of the followers falling on the feet of the political leaders irrespective of their age and they are known to be even reluctant to address their leaders by their names but only by the title, which the admirers confer on them on various occasions generously.
The Indian political leaders understand clearly that what the masses need is showmanship, tall slogans that would whip up their emotions and occasional extension of symbolic gestures. They also know that Indian masses respect only the strong leaders who can be dictatorial . Very frequently we find the political leaders (political party family leaders) called upon to name the new born children and they are even sought to be honoured by weighing them against all kinds of stuffs such as sugar candy and even fruits and vegetables.
Now, this behaviour of the masses only reminds about the traditional Zamindari system in the country, where the local chieftains would occupy the position of zamindar with the entire areas under their control and citizens remaining subservient to them. The traditional mass psychology of Indians accepting the zamindari system now appears to be taking a new form in the present Indian democratic pattern that is shaping up.