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Viewpoint

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.

Categories
Musings Narration

My Vote

I’ve been in a dilemma ever since I was ‘enfranchised’  – The dilemma of choosing the right candidate.

Image Courtesy: lakelandlocal

I’m a sucker for elections. They bring out the news-junkie in me. Normally, I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about politics, but the ‘citizen’ in me gets a wake up call the day they announce elections. I used to closely follow elections be it local, state or even national right from childhood. I’d keep myself glued to TV and keep myself updated about election proceedings. The democratization of internet made things easier for me.

When I collected the Voter’s ID card (which had my name misspelled and my address wrong), my hands trembled in excitement. I didn’t mind having a wrong address or a wrong name printed on a prestigious identification document — I was too ecstatic to notice.

But the ecstacy didn’t last long; I now had a major responsibility on my head — I had to choose my leader. And my vote did make a difference. Now, that unnerved me. I was never a man of quick choices. I had to analyse things down to the last detail before I take any decision. ‘Voting’, essentially a ‘decision making process’, wasn’t really my cup of tea, I realized.

Before I knew it, I was part of the process – The 2009 General Elections had arrived. But thankfully, my constituency was endowed with an intelligent and charismatic candidate and I heaved a sigh of relief. The elections were over, the candidate I voted for won and went on to be a Union Minister. I was happy.

Only until the dates of the Local Body Elections were announced.

Now, I was in a fix.

Especially considering the fact that I do not owe allegiance to any political party as such.

Technically, choosing the ideal candidate for a local election is way easier than the same for a state or parliament election, since the representatives would be friends or at least acquaintances. I knew one of the candidates, the incumbent – she knew me from childhood and used to strike an occasional conversation with me when I was a kid. Apart from her, I hadn’t seen or heard about none of the candidates before. Hence, I thought I’d make an informed decision.

Thus, I commenced the process of background-search.

The brief stint with journalism helped. In classic Tehelka style, I conversed with as many people as possible, in my quest to find the right candidate. I had narrowed down on three candidates, avoiding many of the independants. Independant candidates were either people with deep pockets trying to evade tax, or jobless passers-by trying their hand at a political career.

Mine being a ‘women’s ward’, all candidates in my ward are females – and three of my ‘choices’ were poles apart. From a ‘practicing lawyer’ (read: jobless housewife with LLB) to a ‘people’s mascot’ (read: yet to pass tenth grade), the spectrum was quite wide, indeed. Despite the differences, I couldn’t reach a conclusion regarding whom to vote for.  Conflicting opinions, conflicting evaluations… If one candidate had a good point, she would have a vicious negative too. If another candidate had good track record, glaring allegations of corruption propped up.

The end result? I was as clueless as a third grade kid as I woke up on the election day.

All the research and the thought-process went astray. I wasn’t this confused when I started. I’d have made a better decision, had I not gone for the lengthy evaluation. Lesson Learned: Too much information spoils the vote.

As we stepped foot into local government school, I slyly asked mom:

“Who’re you voting for, Amma?”

“You know who, mone,” Mom smiled. Mom was going to vote for her friend – the incumbent candidate. I decided to follow suit. After all, this person was educated, young and had enough experience ‘representing’ our ward before. We waited outside the voting room.

After Dad and mom cast their votes, it was my turn. Excitement and patriotism filled every cell of my body — it was my ‘responsible citizen’ moment. I airily walked in, flashed my ID Card (even though they didn’t ask for it), got my finger ‘marked’, signed. The lady at the desk pressed a switch. A beep button emanated from the Electronic Voting Machine. It was all set to receive my vote!

Picturing myself as Ranbir Kapoor from ‘Rajneeti’, I walked to the EVM in slow motion. I could hear the Mortal Kombat Theme playing in background. ‘Choose your destiny’, I almost heard that weird voice giving me the options, as my eyes focussed on the gleaming-white panel of the EVM. It was time.

I pressed the button.

The beep sound was music to my ears. My vote was registered — I was a certified ‘responsible citizen’. Treating myself with a smile, I gave another look at the EVM just to see the red light blinking near my candidate’s name.

The light didn’t blink.

Is the machine faulty? Has it been tampered with? I’d only seen reports of widespread rigging on tv, as I was stepping out. I was enraged. Why do responsible citizens like me have to suffer all the time? I’m going to file a complaint with… OMG.

A light did blink. Another light.

It was the second light from top – the light beside that candidate whom I’d eliminated from my list.

I wasted my vote.

If it weren’t unconstitutional, I’d have ransacked the whole room that very moment. My face turned red — I could actually feel the heat in my cheeks. I was a  criminal. I wasted my vote. I WASTED MY VOTE!

I looked helplessly at the presiding officer. She glared back at me. I asked myself, could this be a mistake with the voting machine? But I knew the answer myself. It wasn’t. I pressed the wrong button, in all the excitement.

Dejected, I trudged out of the room. Another person walked in, as I stepped out of the door. I felt envious – that guy’s going to make the right choice. I was not.

Dad and Mom quizzed me about my vote?

I remained silent. I had the right to do so. Secret ballot.

P.S.

The results came today. The candidate I vote for won – by a miniscule margin.

Yours truly is King Queenmaker. 🙂

Categories
Musings Thoughts

Vote for India!

Within three days,  seventy hundred and fifteen million Indians would exercise their electoral franchise in the world’s biggest democratic exercise. Indeed, a proud moment for all of us Indians. The power of democracy showcased in its sublimest way. Yet, there are many amongst us, people who call themselves ‘skeptics’. People who’ve decided not to vote for this elections, citing a feeble argument that it wouldn’t make a difference.

Vote!

CC Credits: piccadillywilson

Trust me, if you’re a person like that, you’re making a VERY VERY grave mistake!

In fact it’s incumbent on us to do something for our Motherland. “Us” as in, you, me and the people around us. That’s why India is  called a democracy. The best thing we can do is to vote out the present government and give someone else a chance. Someone once said that  in a democracy, no government is brought to power – always, the ruling government gets thrown out. We are responsible for our leaders and our country – the best thing we can do is to “vote” and make sure we are heard. If you say that doesn’t make a difference – then please open your eyes! To quote the Jaago Re ad, you are SLEEPING!  It really does make a difference. By not voting you are allowing a corrupt government to continue in power/you are not allowing a progressive government to continue the process of reforms (depends on how you view the current political milieu). If you vote against a corrupt government, you are at least “trying” to push them down and vice versa. Does that ring a bell? People often say:  “None of the candidates I’m goanna vote for are good. Then why even bother?”. Unfortunately, that is truth – it’s necessary evil. The situation can be changed only by getting more and more people to involve in politics. Politics is not a bad thing. It’s one of the best jobs in the world. It gives immense power – the power to make the world a better place to live in! It’s just because of a handful (understatement, yes!) of selfish, power-hungry ‘leaders’ that politics has lost its sanctity . Get involved in politics of the country so that you make yourself heard and not leave the fate of the country to some party leaders. Who are party leaders after all? They are just citizens of the country – you are as much responsible as they are – the only point is that you need to VOTE!

Why do things like reservation come up? Its minority appeasement and nothing more! Everyone knows that. Why do they have to appease the minorities? The facts are simple. Its only the minorities who vote – and the guys in power know that. Whatever the govt does against the majority; the majority assumes to be blind and “curses” destiny/fate/God. But we bloody do not ealise that, we need to show them that we are also a part of the country – and we should show that not by celebrating the victory of Abhinav Bindra and Dhoni’s men but by voting and say “Hello! We are also citizens of this country”. The same applies to the minorities who’ve been suffering from the yoke of oppression since God knows when. They should realize that they’re as equal as the people who exploit them. They should stand up against hunger and poverty. They don’t realize the potency of the weapon in their hands… The power of electoral franchise!

Terrorism – India bled and hung its head down in shame at Mumbai on 26th of November – when ten-odd people held the commerical capital of India to ransom. More importantly, they did it where the most elite people of the country assemble! The Taj and Oberoi – the supposed hang out place for the guys who run the economy. The terrorists were making one fact clear. “Hello folks – see we got into your Taj and killed people. We can EASILY walk into your residential area and do it! Get it? So please stop iritating us for Kashmir – give that part to us” . They could have killed lakhs from the slums of Dharavi with half the investment. Then why did they choose to kill a few hundred and attack just the rich? The answer to all these riddles lie in the sole press of a button. The button that could change world. The buttons of the electronic voting machine!

You’ve time from April 16th to May 13th. Analyze the performance of your candidates, run a background check, and go vote! Spend 2-3 hours in the queue and elect your leader. You spend the same amount of time to watch a Bollywood movie. Time is precious. Use it… to vote!

Stand up. Speak out. Change!

P.S.

Heavily inspired by an e-mail from a friend. 🙂