Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vote and everything will (NOT) be alright!

On my way back to Bristol I had an interesting experience at the Ahmedabad Domestic Airport. The Jet Airways flight meant to take us to Mumbai was delayed. Two elderly gentlemen (though in hindsight, it seems incorrect to call them gentlemen) were amongst the people riled up because of the delay. They started talking about how the systems in our country were bad. One was of the opinion that the whole political system was bad and that sourced all problems. The other one who seemingly was a political party member or activist opined that the former had no idea about how learned the politicians were. He went on to point out that people like “us” (meaning the crowd waiting to board the aircraft) were the least concerned about changing stuff and enjoyed complaining. He challenged everyone there to go do something small. Like for starters to go and vote. If “we” understood the problems so clearly, why did we shy away from voting when the time came to vote?

The other man continued to abuse the various politicians in Maharashtra for discriminating while allotting MHADA housing plots, in cricket and what not. This discussion, which was comical so far, took a more serious turn when the guy finally picked a specific politician to abuse. I suspect that politician belonged to the same party as the second guy. This was when he changed his relatively dignified yet vexed speech to one that overflowed with expletives and threats. A la filmi-sytle he went on to challenged the guy to dare and step out of the Mumbai airport and walk away alive having faced his men. (Maa ka doodh piya hai to bahar nikal kar dikha, kaat dunka tujhe udhar or something similar) The fight was eventually broken up at the behest of the crowd and the attention turned towards the Jet Airways representative whom they roughed up for the delay.

Only I was left with a disturbing question. In the so many years of my education, I was always told that democracy is *sic* the best kind of governance. It puts the power into the hands of the people and people alone can decide the fate of the nation. And all they have to do to achieve this is to vote. It was the magic mantra, “Vote and everything will be alright” If the people mentioned above were the populace and the governance, then there was something wrong with my core belief. I felt compelled to question it. Let me be frank. I’ve voted a couple of times. Most of the other times, I’ve been elsewhere at the time of elections. Does this mean I have denied myself the opportunity to push the gears of democracy into motion? Actually the answer is no. The constituency I belong to is the home ground of the erstwhile Leader of Opposition. Irrespective of my vote, he is bound to win. And the opponent parties field a weak candidate with no credentials whatsoever to stand against him in the election. As I vote, I am not choosing the fate of the nation; I am only making the practical choice of putting a more sensible candidate up to represent me.

With this aimed at no particular political party, my question still stays. Why does India, the world’s largest democracy become the best example why democracy is a bad idea? To date, if we were to ask each political party to weed out anyone and everyone who has ever been accused of criminal activities, the party ranks would thin out faster than trees in an autumn gale. How many times has the news of scams involving mind boggling sums of money come forth only to whimper back into the oblivion of past and the judicial back-offices? How many times we have gotten into deals with outsiders, that clearly compromise the interests of our nation and yet the people meant to protect our interests only do the contrary? What makes our foreign affairs minister so long winded in his speech that he reads from a document while the counterpart from across the border responds to media in a flamboyant and off-the-cuff way still managing to score victory anyway? Why does someone from across the border get away with calling the US Secretary of State a blathering idiot while we pander to a CEO whose company was responsible for thousands of deaths in Bhopal?

The answer to this came from a child, whom I met years ago. The child had a kite with the picture of a political bigwig on it. The child was so convinced that just the picture of the person was enough to make the kite take to the skies. And despite it being torn beyond repair, he kept on trying to make it fly. If there ever was a more poignant metaphor to our nation’s situation, it has escaped me. The picture on the kite is today’s political system, unsympathetic to its people, clueless to world affairs, blinded to its own agenda and benefits, lusting for power and unfortunately with a choke-hold called faith over most of the ignorant populace. The child in the picture is the populace in general. Some of it, like some part of the child’s brain, knows this isn’t going to work. And then the rest oblivious to everything else, hoping the magic to work and help achieve the goal of making the kite fly. And in that personal interest to see the kite fly, the child forgets that he is damaging it beyond repair. Needless to say, the kite is our nation. And this is where the saddest truth about democracy lies.

Unfortunately this solves nothing. It only lays to rest my illusion and brings me to a bleak realization:
“Vote and everything will *NOT* be alright”

1 comment:


Well in democracy the government is supposed to be of the people, for the people and by the people(the order may be different) but in India is that so. I mean before every election the leaders come with huge promises of making life better for everyone but after the elections the turn deaf ears to the public. I mean the government is being elected by the people but they do not get the benefit, and the story is same for all the parties. It is like living in a dictatorship where the dictators are are elected by the public for a term of five years. So what is the use of voting.