Politics has come to acquire a bad odour and generally implies unfair, underhand dealings, exploitation of the poor and the ignorant, though it need not necessarily be so. Since it generally involves the attainment of certain objectives, such as the seizure of power by all available methods, violence often becomes a part of it. Of course, violence need not be a vital or essential part of politics even in the most ill-governed country, but there is no doubt that unscrupulous politicians seldom hesitate to resort to violent methods to achieve their aims.
Whenever the practitioners on the art of politics find that normal and socially acceptable methods and practices have not brought them the desired achievements, they stoop to unethical methods, including incitement of sensitive people to violence.
It is tragic reflection on civilization that with the much-publicized progress in various spheres of human activity the resort to violence has also increased. In fact, one of the dominating factors in the postwar years is the growth of the spirit of violence.
Even in India, where the apostle of peace and non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi, preached that violence is both degrading and derogatory to human beings, the menace has been increasing. Proof of this dismal phenomenon is found in the sharp increase in violent crimes in the country, including murders, stabbings and other manifestations of cruelty. The concept of “might is right” is being practiced with a callousness. That is highly disgraceful and a sorry reflection on civilization.
It is poor consolation that violence has been on the increase not only in India but also all the world over, even in the most civilized countries, such as the U.S. A. and Britain. Naked, unabashed violence has even been glorified in certain continents; the number and intensity of armed clashes between various classes of people is yet another proof; and so is the increasing number of communal riots, many of which have their roots in politics. In fact, there would be no communal disturbances in the country if the spirit of non-violence were universally accepted as a guiding factor of human life.
It is indeed a sorry reflection on the state of our civilization that more politics has come to imply more violence; what is worse, violence begets violence. When one party adopts violent means to achieve its objectives, the other follows suit in the firm, though unwarranted, belief that the only answer to violence is greater violence, not peaceful overtures or nonviolent satyagraha which Mahatma so earnestly advocated.
Yet another tragedy of modern civilization is that politicians refute by their actions the sound principle that a State based on force and violence is built on foundations of sand. There can be no social, economic or political stability where the entire polity is based on force and violence, not on the people freely expressed and frequently affirmed (through periodic elections) support and consent.
Ousters of one group by another are sometimes accompanied by force and violence, together with reprisals in various forms. Violence in politics also takes the form of coercion, which is another form of compulsion, and compulsion involves or implies the use of force or threat of force.
It is not surprising in such circumstances that politics of peace is becoming uncommon, and politics of war is replacing it gradually but surely. Some of those who are very much in politics, and seldom hesitate to adopt violence as a means to an end, quote Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Even though moral force is more effective at times, the Mahatma conceded that in certain circumstances, the refusal to fight violence adequately might smack of cowardice. Why does India maintain a large police force and ever-expanding military forces?
The State has to use force to quell riots of various types and has to be in a constant state of preparedness to meet aggression by hostile countries. Violence then becomes inescapable. Ironically, both peace and politics have become difficult to ensure without adequate preparations for fighting violence. This genuine peace in politics has become uncommon and the spirit of violence is abroad—like an infection that has seeped into all areas of human activity.