Instead of defining what political discourse is and should be, this article aims to highlight what could be considered political discourse. Political discourse is a result of politics and is historically and culturally determined. It is a subcategory of discourse in general and is further divided into two categories namely: functional and thematic. It is functional as it fulfils the functional criteria of political activities and thematic because the topics that are part of it come under politics, for instance: political systems (democracy), political ideologies(liberalism), and political relations (power inequality).
To put it into simpler terms, political discourse is identified by its politicians and is the language and vocabulary used by them to propagate their campaigns. It could be as easy as logging into Twitter and seeing the numerous tweets & memes shared regarding a political activity (eg. Elections) Tweets, Blogs, Articles, etc. are all an important part of online political discourse.
The internet is an essential and indispensable part of our lives, so much so that we need it for everyday functioning. Technology has advanced so much that we have all the information we need, right in the palm of our hands. Studies show that the internet is the first source people browse to get their source and information regarding politics. Gone are the days of people pondering over their newspapers or even watching television to know what is happening in politics.
Since 1947, India’s political discourse has evolved through several dimensions, and in recent years, there has been a growing deterioration in our political discourse. The choice of language and the selection of issues discussed on national television and in public space - both only and offline is deeply worrying and one can’t help but wonder where we are progressing as a country.
To put the two problems into context, In 2019, The Chief Minister of Delhi - Arvind Kejriwal, and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faked his educational qualifications and forged his degrees even though Delhi University has contradicted these claims. While citizens ought to question the qualifications of elected leaders, pointless defamation is only going to bring us down. This example highlights the extremely shallow nature of our political discourse itself. To people who are suffering due to economic inequalities and poverty and have little to no support from society and the government, The prime minister’s educational qualification is the least of their concern as there are more pressing matters at hand. There is a fine light between addressing matters like corruption, dishonesty, and immoral political games without slandering the person or the party which most politicians and media networks do not adhere to.
The questionable language used is also another point of contention as people took to social media to troll both parties because of this situation. The cabinet ministers of Delhi had used the platform Twitter to trend ‘#12thPassModi’ and engaged in meaningless slander using unparliamentary language. These political gimmicks would only cause more backlash than garner attention from the common public, and it’s time our politicians become more professional and focus on their roles and responsibilities.
Just because individuals having different and opposing political ideologies does not mean one has to engage in belittling another. A perfect example of this is the obituary C. Rajagopalachari wrote for Jawaharlal Nehru’s demise. He wrote, “Eleven years younger than me, eleven times more important to the nation, eleven hundred times more beloved of the nation, Sri Nehru has suddenly departed from our midst... I have been fighting Sri Nehru all these ten years over what I consider faults in public policies. But I knew all along that he alone could get them corrected."
Political discourse is important because of many reasons, some being that it allows for deeper dissection of opinions and issues compared to what the media typically provides. Political discourse enables the public to read and view mainstream news reports as well as engage and learn from others’ opinions, thus receiving a wider spectrum of perspectives.
Political discourse and polling impacts the state of political campaigns and also influence the voters during elections. Political campaigns are an integral part of the discourse and the public’s reaction to these campaigns is featured by newspapers, magazines, news channels, and platforms on the Internet, further adding to discussion and debate. It helps analyze the status of the campaign as well as whether a politician is a right fit for the role or not. It greatly affects the public persona portrayed by the politician.
One of the most important reasons why we need more proper political discourse in India is that it encourages political activism in the real world, especially among younger generations. If we need the youth of the country to be more politically active and engage more with politics, we need to encourage more political discourse. Youth are more likely to be vocal online and hopefully, this translates them to be politically active offline as well.