Public life and transparency

Public figures, more particularly law makers are expected to conduct themselves with a certain degree of rectitude. They cannot violate the laws, rules and regulations that they have themselves legislated. The morality that public figures impose on themselves today is the morality that those who follow them will see. Hence they cannot be lackluster in how they conduct themselves. The absence of transparency, for lack of a better word, that existed yester-year has been replaced by the unobstructed sunlight that exists today. Above all, those that are closest to them should also be above reproach. It is said that a man is judged by the company he keeps. Those who manage the personal and intricate affairs of VIPs and VVIPs must be persons whose integrity is tested in times of adversities. Such people should not have made capital from their proximity to their bosses.  Above all they must have both social and intellectual capital because that in turn enhances the stature of the VIP/VVIP.

Chief Ministers in Meghalaya have had officials assisting them that have the breadth of intellect, presence of mind and decorum on how to deal with the public. The conduct of the chief minister of a state and his cabinet colleagues is a matter of public scrutiny. The chief minister is the first among equals and is expected to lead the way when it comes to his own conduct and that of his team.

Another expectation from public figures is that they should know how to handle the media. After all, if they court the media when they want their actions publicised, then they should be equally willing to answer queries when media persons ask them questions that the public need to know – beyond those conventional headlines and press releases.

William Cobbett the English pamphleteer who combined in himself the qualities of a journalist and politics having become a  Member of Parliament in 17th century Britain says, “No man has the right to pry into his neighbour’s private concerns and the opinions of every man are his private concern, while he keeps them so. But when he makes those opinions public; when he attempts to make converts, whether it be in religion, politics or anything else; when he once comes forward as a candidate for public admiration, esteem or compassion, his opinions, his principles , his motives, every action of his life, public or private, becomes the fair subject of public discussion.” Hence a chief minister’s actions in the public space are a matter of public discussion. That’s what’s called transparency and no politician can avoid public scrutiny.

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