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The Politics Of Confusion

Almost every person who has known me for a while would know that I am a person with no political affiliations whatsoever. Yes, so if you ask me about the political outfit I stand for – I really do not have an answer for your question.

The reason being simple – I am politically confused.

[quotes]

That definitely does not mean I am disinterested in politics. I started keenly observing the political space as a child. I grew up at a time when my country, India, had just opened its doors to the world; when the information overload had just begun. Politics was something that you simply could not miss, thanks to the omnipresent media through which political leaders announced their gargantuan plans for development (most often leading to a series heated discourses, arguments and counter arguments on national television). The Narasimha Raos, the Deva Gowdas, The Gujarals and the Vajpayees never failed to catch my attention.

Despite my obvious interest in politics, something that was cultivated within me from an early age – thanks to the unavoidable information overload, one thing always kept bothering me – my inability to take a political stand. It even reflects in the way I have exercised my electoral franchise all this while. I have actually voted for all the major outfits throughout my voting stints till date! It also doesn’t help that different members of my extended family are part of all the major outfits as well. My paternal aunt and her family are chronic supporters of the left while my maternal family has never failed to vote for the Congress. And my cousin’s husband had actually contested in the parliamentary elections on a BJP ticket! (in those pre-NaMo times, that is). Which means, there practically is no ‘influence’ from the family to support a certain outfit; not that I would want such a thing myself, but yes – if such were the case, I could at least cite a reason why I support a particular party.

And that brings me to the reason behind my obvious political confusion. Now, allow me to ask you something: Why do you support the political outfit of your choice? Their ideologies? Their track record? The rhetoric and public support of the illustrious leader of the said political party? The history and the legacy of the political party and the role it has had to play in the development of your country? Or… is it because, the political party you support openly endorses the religion or the faith you believe in?

For me, all these questions fail to give justifiable answers.

As for ideologies, I don’t see any clear-cut ideologies offered by any of the political parties worth standing by. I was briefly enamored by the Aam Aadmi Party’s stand against corruption. But a party with the major selling point of anti-corruption, with a feeble leadership and lack of other driving agendas is bound to failure (which eventually happened, sort-of). Besides, if a party with the sole stand of anti-corruption could raise so many eyeballs (in the good days of AAP), it simply shows the ideological drought India is going through… I happen to be a clear casualty of the same.

Things are funny when it comes to the track record and party legacy. For every ‘achievement’ each party quotes as its own – there are five other stark examples of rampant corruption/mismanagement. I really do not want to get into the nauseating details here, but if you’ve been watching TV, you know, right? I hope I’ve made my point.

Now, as for leadership – I definitely have to admit that the leadership qualities and the public support enjoyed by our Honourable Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi are exceptional. From a party that was in a nearly decimated state a couple of years ago, he could garner public support by building a brand of his own and even single-handedly winning the elections with an impressive majority. As an able leader, many believe that he has the potential to turn around the fortunes of the country. That said, it would not be factually accurate to call Shri. Modi a person with a clean track record. And history has enough examples citing what could happen when a respectable leader chooses the wrong path.

Besides, one cannot turn a blind eye to the rising instances of communal polarization happening in the country right now. I see many people and organizations among me, spewing communal hatred and venom. I do have my reservations and fears about the direction our country is heading to. I can only hope for the best and pray for peace, to the same Gods for whom people are ready to die for (and even kill for). In fact, communal polarization and appeasement has always been a driving force for all political parties who have ruled the country. It’s something the congress and its allies have successfully employed for ages to ride on the wave of the minority vote-bank; that’s one of the reasons why have had the country in their clutches for quite a while now. The ruling front is allegedly reinventing it, through ‘majority appeasement’.

And I strictly do not endorse linking religion with politics. I am a devout believer in Hinduism, but that is definitely no reason for me to support a ‘Hindu’ party. I am of the opinion that religion and beliefs are personal choices, and should ideally have little role in nation-building. Apparently, a lion’s share of India’s population disagrees with my point of view – and that’s what scares me the most.

I don’t think I am the only person facing the same dilemma – if I look around, I can find a million politically confused friends of mine. And I feel this is one of the biggest dilemmas faced by the youth of this country. All of us want to do something for the country – we are bustling with energy, with resources, with intellectual capital. But, deep down, we are confused. We don’t know where to start… We don’t have lofty ideologies to drive us… Heck, we don’t even know what do or even whom to vote for!

Will I ever find a way out of this confusion? I really do not foresee the birth of any radical organizations or parties, at least in the near future. AAP did bring some hope, but it fizzled out within no time. People voted the BJP to power with a lot of expectations – but we are yet to see any radical changes. Of course, there is one thing we could do as empowered, educated youth. Keeping the political confusions and influences at bay, we ourselves could take the baton of nation-building on ourselves. Yes, there is a lot we could do to uplift our nation. A starting point to the same would be to do best the things we do/we love to do. Perhaps, when we all strive collectively for common good, a unifying ideology would emerge… Something that would help us not only make our country, but also the world a better place… 🙂

The fact that we are politically confused would become a non-issue then.

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Vote for Shashi Tharoor!

Mr Shashi Tharoor
It’s confirmed, Dr. Shashi Tharoor is contesting for the Lok Sabha elections from Thiruvananthapuram. Hoardings proclaiming and endorsing his candidature have come up at every nook and corner of the city. Dr Tharoor has even got himself a custom web portal for his campaign promotion. His repute as an international statesman, celebrated journalist, and his tenure in the UN have given Mr. Tharoor a plethora of accolades. An acclaimed author who has fully realized the power and potential of India as a country, his prescient works like ‘India: From Midnight to Millenium’ clearly depict his immense knowledge about the length and breadth of India. Clearly, Dr. Tharoor is someone who can take the nation to the next level with his expertise and skill. He, indeed, is among the most eligible would-be MPs and Thiruvananthapuram must be proud to have someone as potent as a candidate for the Lok Sabha.

I’m no one to predict a landslide victory for Tharoor. There’s a rather fat chance that he might suffer an acrimonious defeat, considering the  uncertain political terrain in the state which even toppled the state’s best actor Prem Nazir when he contested elections – despite all his charm and personal goodwill.

I’m eligible to vote in this general election. My name is in the voter’s list and I’ve my Voters ID card. And I’m proud to say that I’d exercise my primal electoral franchise to vote for Dr. Shashi Tharoor! Not because I’m a supporter of Congress – I’m politically neutral. In fact, I support SFI at college, but again, I’m no communist.  True, I’m a fan of Dr. Tharoor (I’ve read almost all works of his and I’ve had the opportunity to interact with him once – I treasure his autograph.) But that’s not the reason why I would vote for him. I’ve my set of reasons.

Why my vote goes to Dr. Shashi Tharoor

  1. I’ve already mentioned this – but Dr. Tharoor is well-educated and experienced by all conventional benchmarks. An alumnus of St. Stephen’s college, Delhi, he stood first  and obtained his BA (History) degree with a record score in History (honours). He served as the chairman of the college union during his days there. During his tenure at the debating society, he won every single debating prize ever possible! Dr. Tharoor went on to obtain a Ph.D at the Fletcher School of Law and diplomacy at the age of 22! A Fletcher record that has not been broken till date. Enough education to be the President of a country!
  2. Let wiki do the talking about Tharoor’s career at the U.N.
  3. Tharoor’s was an exceptional UN career, rising as he did from the P-2 level to the highest possible rank of Under-Secretary-General in a mere 23 years. He was privileged to play a key role in some of the major events of his time, from the Vietnamese boat people crisis to the Yugoslav Civil Wars, to serve in both the humanitarian and peace-keeping arenas as well as in the Secretary-General’s office[2]. He established a reputation at the Department of Public Information as a reformer[3] and as the UN’s most articulate voice for the principles of the United Nations Charter and the work of multilateralism in an increasingly unipolar world.[4]. He took a number of initiatives, ranging from organizing and conducting[5] the first-ever UN seminar on anti-Semitism and against Islamophobia[6] to launching an annual list [7]of “Ten Under-Reported Stories the World Ought to Know About” [8]

    I guess that again speaks volumes about Dr. Tharoor. A man who campaigned against ‘Islamophobia’, and someone who is very well aware of the global terrain, is indeed well equipped to ensure the progress of our God’s own country.

  4. All said, Tharoor has proved himself as a globally renowned statesman, but will he take care of good ol’ Thiruvananthapuram, as he has proclaimed in his campaign website? The answer is simple. If he could govern global issues, far in magnitude and scale with ease, why can’t he do the same with Kerala? I’ve heard Tharoor speak and I’ve read all his books. He speaks insightfully and raises issues as yet ignored by most. He realizes the enormity of Kerala’s problems and has his set of vision statements that could and would change the way we live, sort-of.
  5. Alright, you’re not voting for Tharoor. But who else are you going to vote for? A ‘communal’ P.K. Krishnadas? Or another run-of-the-mill politician P. Ramachandran Nair? Or rather, you would like to cast your vote in the favour of our ‘cultured’ BSP Candidate Mr Neelalohitadasan Nadar (Nalini Netto case fame). If you’re an educated voter, you know whom you’re goanna cast your votes for!

Criticisms against Shashi Tharoor and why they’re not goanna affect my mandate

  • Lack of Malayalam Knowledge: Tharoor speaks beautiful Malayalam. In fact I’ve spoken to him in public! His Malayalam is perfect and he pronounces words fluently. Alright, he himself admits that he finds it hard to write/read the language, but again, as a Member of Parliament, his job is to communicate with the center and with his  flawless English and immaculate Hindi, he’s the right person for the job!
  • Tharoor’s personal life: It’s a fact that Tharoor has divorced once and is now married to a Canadian national. But how would that affect his skills and capablity to represent a state’s issues? I don’t get that point!
  • The Coca Cola Debate: ‘Open letters’ like this condemning Tharoor’s Coca Cola connection have propped up. Tharoor boldly replied to the letter here. Tharoor does not stand for the Coca Cola company, as he himself says. He is only an Advisory Board Member of  ‘Yatn’ – A foundation by Coca Cola India for the greater good. Agreed, many of the claims raised in the open letter are true and that Tharoor speaks in favour of the company in his reply. But that doesn’t mean Tharoor is a bad statesman! He was just citing his point of view in his reply. All we hear about the Plachimada issue was brought to us by the media which sensationalizes issues. We don’t know what’s true. Tharoor’s take was based on his analyses of the entire issue. It may be right or wrong – its validity is not much of an issue here.
  • Hidden corporate interests? This claim is raised unequivocally by all communists. Sigh! When are you people goanna learn? Will someone who has not a blemish on his name when he was managing global issues falter when it comes to a small state like Kerala? I don’t think so!
  • The National Anthem ‘Scandal’: A mountain made out of a molehill, truly! We have politicians like Lalu Yadav who’ve gone wild, disrespecting the anthem. All Tharoor did was to hold his arms onto his chest in respect. That calls for another moot point – we need to upgrade our laws, period.

So, if you live in Thiruvananthapuram, and if you are eligible to vote in this general elections, choose wisely. Don’t vote for Shashi Tharoor because he’s a congressman. Vote for him, because he is what he is.

UPDATE: A very noted Malayalam blogger and a friend of mine – ഞാന്‍ , has vehemently opposed what I’ve written and has actually replied and vehemently criticised this post. You might like to read that post too.

ഞാന്‍ is someone I respect and honour a lot. I respect his political stance and choose not to counter-question his points, lest it morph into a fully-blown fight. But I’ve a question to ask him – a question that I’d posed earlier in this blog post. Assuming all what ഞാന്‍ says are true,  who else should I vote for? Another politician who would rob the district to abject poverty?! Analyze in whichever angle possible, find as many criticisms as you can; my views remain unchanged – My vote goes for Dr. Shashi Tharoor!