Politics and IITians

This post is about a question that was asked on Quora and my answer to it.

Q: Why there has been less politicians from IIT, though there is healthy student council in most of the IITs?

A: Exactly, there is a healthy student council in most of the IITs. Student councils in IITs are fairly rational and the people they govern are also fairly rational. However, that is not the case with the rest of the country.
You won’t get killed if you try to do the right thing in IITs but outside you might face such an outcome.
Also, in IITs you don’t need to feed yourself but if you join politics outside the campus you would need a source of income. Thus, such a step is risky financially too. Career in politics is not limited to the above two issues. There are a lot of questions that need to be addressed before choosing such a career:
How will you feed your family?
How will you save yourself from violent party members (be it your own or from any other party)?
What will you do as a politician?
How will you impress people, majority of which are irrational?
How will you fund your existence?
How will you gather support?
How will you manage your private life, given it is subjected to public scrutiny?
How will you maintain your integrity?

Solutions to these questions are not easy and there are very few people who can follow a difficult path. Politics is a dirty game and it takes guts to play it. At the same time your batchmates will be sitting in plush offices earning a lot of money. As a politician if you want to remain honest you won’t see any money until a very long time. If you are not smart about it, you won’t see any money at all.

If you become dishonest like the big example sitting in Delhi as CM, then you won’t have any dearth of money but you will lose integrity. If you lose integrity, there is no point of being a politician.
Initially, you would be looked down upon by most people you know. Others will ask why you discarded such a bright future in multinational corporations? Why do you want to waste your life for such a ridiculous cause. Weirdly, these people know how important politics is but still they will ask such questions. No one, absolutely no one will appreciate your aim to do something good for the country. But still you will have to keep your resolve and move forward. People give a lot of dialogues regarding patriotism and your country’s heritage but almost nobody does anything or cares about it.

It would take a lot courage and doggedness to keep moving towards your goal. You will encounter corruption of various degrees at different levels and you will have to deal with that. A normal person doesn’t even encounter 10% of that in his lifetime. Not many people have the courage or the determination to be a good politician and most IITians are no different.

I guess that answers the question. Frankly, getting into IIT is extremely easy compared to the above mentioned job.

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