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Ideas Are More Powerful and Always Outlive

The following text has been extracted from my response in an email discussion thread around the current anti-corruption fight back in India and argument that if the movement were to survive, Anna or Ramdev must come clean and must be ideal and perfect citizens rather than just any other Indian fighting for a cause.

“I believe in ideas rather than just people that spearhead or follow an idea.  By focusing too much on a person, we often get blinded, bogged down or loose our common sense by personifying ideas and fail to reason. Not to discount the people and leaders that brought those ideas into life. But more often than not, ideas outlive those leaders, just for the reason that even those leaders are human beings and imperfect.

Getting a consent by threatening to go on fast unto death is stupid if Ramdev does it. Anna does it. Or Gandhi does it. We could only reason if we could separate the idea from the person. Otherwise, for instance, whatever Gandhi did will be considered always righteous and true.

After all, democracy is an idea, not a person. So are, free markets, globalization, patriotism, even corruption and so on.

If we follow religion just because some Baba, that religion will die after that Baba. But if you believe in the idea of a religion, it outlives everybody as 1000s of years of history has shown. Movements or agitations or even businesses are not an exception to this.

Like the selfish gene that outlives the person that is carrying, ideas will always outlive those that spearhead them and many a times gets better. We should be able to detach the idea from its carriers. Carriers were never perfect or ideal. And will never be. That's my belief. I don't necessarily disagree with you, I just happened to have a different opinion :-)”

On Why it is important to focus on the cause rather than the person:

“It is really unfortunate and I believe 'unrealistic' to expect that those who fight against corruption must be some how ideal and perfect citizens. It will never happen. Like it or not, we are all part of the same system and there is nothing wrong in trying to change ourselves and change the rest going forward.

Issues like corruption can be controlled if not totally eradicated by macro-level policies. Keep in mind 80/20 or 90/10 principle. But people behave strange sometimes. It always happen that when some one try to fight against corruption, the world put that person's life in microscope and show that he/she is not perfect either or not-corrupt either. But that misses the point of whole aspiration to get macro-level changes we need by unduly focusing on micro-issues”

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