Normally in a democracy one needs no proof of a leader’s personal qualities other than his public support. If he is otherwise qualified under law it is only the votes that acts as the ultimate testimony of his competence as a leader. This is certainly true of a leader who has already displayed his personal abilities to the public by carrying out sufficient administrative responsibilities and public functions. But what about a politician who has never been in public life during his youth and has been carefully guarded from public scrutiny thereafter? And what if the democracy allows him to make it to the top post of the ruling party only because of his family connection and political sycophancy? Most importantly what if there are serious doubts about one of the most significant qualities required of the leader- his intelligence?
Many people might not be comfortable with the idea of testing a politician’s intelligence. Intelligence can certainly not be the only indicator of a good politician. After all the most corrupt and dubious of politicians could be the most intelligent. But ignoring the need for intelligence in a leader is not good for a healthy democracy. Also, there is nothing personal in this. It is not just about Rahul Gandhi. It is about the right to know about a person in whose hands the country’s future could lie. Since it is “wrong not to lay the lessons of the past before the future”, let me place one historic fact about a member of the same family that Rahul Gandhi belongs to. These are the words of eminent journalist Janardan Thakur:-
“A retired Inspector General of Police, Rajasthan, related the story of how Jawaharlal Nehru, on a holiday trip to Dehra Dun visited a police training camp. There some people were being interviewed for recruitment as constables and their IQ was being tested. Sanjay Gandhi happened to be with his grandfather, and Nehru casually asked the police officers to test the boy’s IQ along with the others. Later, the IG committed the error of telling Nehru the result of the boy’s test. It was so “pathetically poor” that Nehru flared up: “Why did you have to tell me this?” He was so agitated that he cancelled all his evening engagements”
It is not far fetched to think that it was this “pathetically poor” IQ that allowed Sanjay Gandhi to be so easily exploited by political minions, greedy industrialists and wily bureaucrats. It could well have been the same deficiency of intelligence that didn’t let him comprehend the importance of democracy and the constitution. After all our constitution is a product of some of the most intelligent minds ever. If this is indeed true of Sanjay Gandhi, shouldn’t we be more careful in handing over political responsibility to a person who has, through his own utterances, created a doubt in the minds of people about his intelligence.
There might be some debate in the scientific community on the precise methods of testing intelligence or IQ but there can be little doubt that intelligence and cognitive ability have a direct correlation with leader performance. Scholars in the US have analyzed performance and political attitudes of past Presidents with reference to their intelligence. In fact some people have recently called for mandatory IQ tests for American politicians after the Colorado Congresswoman Diana Degette confused magazines for bullets in a debate on gun licensing.
Asking for an IQ test for a possible future prime minister is neither trying to trivialize or personalize political debate. When a leader through his utterances displays intelligence that is far below what is expected of a future prime minister and when the leader has not achieved anything significant in terms of administrative or organization ability, it is absolutely essential that he be asked to prove his worth. Don’t we want a physically unfit politician to quit? Hasn’t there been a popular demand for a retirement age for politicians? The requirement for an IQ test of a leader like Rahul Gandhi is also similarly important.
Many people are trying to attribute Rahul Gandhi’s latest outburst against the Government ordinance to some larger game plan. I would like to believe that it has more to do with his immaturity and lack of intelligence than any grand political strategy. If he only wanted to show that he can rise above party politics and take on his own government he needn’t have used embarrassing expletives like “nonsense” and tearing-off. There is a whole list of Rahul Gandhi statements that cannot be attributed to anything but lack of intelligence. Rahul Gandhi has never exhibited creativity- an important indicator of intelligence- in any of his words or deeds.
Many people have praised Rahul Gandhi’s earnestness. Sam Pitroda says his heart is in the right place. One needs to realize that a leader needs qualities of both head and heart. If we have a right to know about a politician’s assets to see if he or she is corrupt, why can’t we know anything about the individual’s intelligence levels to see if the person is capable of leading the country?
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