MUMBAI: To most politicians in India, age is just a number. They do not quit unless forced by providence or circumstances. It is in this context that “mutinous” nephew Ajit Pawar’s no-holds-barred comment on uncle Sharad Pawar’s age-“he is 83”-has reignited a debate on whether there should be a retirement age for politicians too.
Many readers felt that like other professionals, politicians too should retire, if not at 60, at least by the time they turn 75.
“After a certain age, they seem to stop taking interest in public welfare and start taking the public for granted. It becomes a game of projection and power and about staying in the limelight,” says
Khar Residents Association
She suggests politicians must retire after 70.
If 70 is too early to hang up the boots for politicians, 75, as the BJP has made a rule, should be the age to retire, many say. This is what even Ajit Pawar suggested, citing the examples of L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi: “In other parties, leaders retire after an age. BJP leaders retire at 75. When are you going to stop? You should also give new people a chance.”
The common man cannot understand why netas work at an age when many others retire. “I will continue till my limbs cooperate,” says Belapur-based 48-year-old shoeshine man Rajaram Shobharam. “There should be a retirement age in politics,” says the shoeshine man who began working in 2002.
Author and columnist
says there should not be a retirement age for politicians as “experience and maturity matter”. However, about Pawar she says: “It’s not about age… It’s about wisdom and astuteness. Pawar’s age cannot be used against him but his lack of wisdom in this situation is more than apparent. For the first time in his political career, he is on the backfoot. His emotions have overtaken his intellect.”
Puppet theatre veteran
agrees.”Recently, we have been watching all these politicians and their politics. Their loyalties seem fickle. They defect easily. There is no ideology, no credibility. On what basis will people vote for them? I believe that while actors can act till the audience appreciate them and writers can write till the end, politicians should have a retirement age.”
“Activities change with time. Change is the first rule of life. After the age of 60 or 70, actions cannot always keep pace with thoughts. That’s why I retired at 65 after putting in four decades of work into the business I started at age 16,” says a long-time south Mumbai resident who believes politicians must start retiring by age 70 to make way for the younger generation.
Citing veteran industrialist Ratan Tata who retired from his own company when he turned 75,
resident K A Viswanathan says: “Business executives become more knowledgeable and experienced when they grow older. They also lose their perks and privileges once they leave the chair. But politicians stick to their chair well into their 80s and 90s, enjoying many comforts at the taxpayers’ expense. When the government has fixed the retirement age for corporate heads and bureaucrats, why not a retirement age for politicians too?”