Uttrakhand disaster has been flooding my timeline for past few days. Preferential treatment given to the selected few to save their lives sparked a debate whether the privileged deserve this distinction ( for their extra contribution to the society) or not and this lead to me thinking about Elitist Vs Populist
In a democracy like India, functioning without a populist approach is impossible. However much one may hate the quota system, little solution exist to close the gap between the rich and the poor. Our Foreign policies can’t be based to favor bureaucrats, it has to favor NRIs and their families and similarly environmental policies can’t favor industrialists, it has to favor the population living in those areas. Populism is the reason why a Jayalalitha doesn’t allow a Sri Lankan player to play for IPL in her state. Catering to the needs of majority of the section of society is how a democratic government functions.
That being said, how do you get above par intellectual and professional performance? Would you want a sub-par doctor performing your surgery, don’t best students deserve extra attention to make them even better doctors (or scientist and engineers) which ultimately is an egalitarian goal and serves majority population? I can’t be the only one to want only the cream people in ISRO (Meritocracy)!
Populism is basically a belief of equality (egalitarian) which leads to doing what majority section wants whereas Elitism is a cerebral belief and leads to doing what one believes yo be right (or more important) and not bothering about what majority wants. Simply put, a TOI gives you everything you want (Populism) as compared to an Economist that gives you only the refined version of the news (Elitism). That explains the difference between the money that a documentary makes as compared to that of a Bollywood movie. How else can you explain the years that CID or a Star Plus serial ran?
Personally, I find Populism as Utopian ideal. For a Class-less governance, a class-less society needs to exists. In our society, elite pay more income-tax as a price for civilized society. Everybody is working hard, some are just smarter or even lucky but they have been paying their dues! Populism maintains the status-quo, it gives society what it wants. Elitism on the other hand improves society. If you believe a girl isn’t to be blamed for her rape (which majority in India still believes), how can you not support elitism? If you want society to value a Sam Pitroda more than KRK (Twitter followers: 85k+ & 128k+ resp.), how can you be a populist? In the end, what matters is, how you want your society; just like you are or better than you are?
P.S. 1) For the purpose of this blog, Populism also include pluralism, secernment etc and elitism refers to intellectually smart, hard-worker category of people and not inherent-rich category which is racist, sexist etc.
P.S. 2) For my research, I got a lot of help from articles of Christopher Edley, (Dean of the Law School at Berkeley) and a website: http://retnoespinoza.blogspot.in/2013/03/elitisme-elitism-is-belief-or-attitude.html