The Indians are a chuffed up lot these days. They are strutting about feeling very important since the country has, quite seamlessly, eased itself into yet another Parliamentary Election process.
It is the biggest election that the world has ever seen. 814 million eligible voters. The world, yet again, references India as the ‘biggest’ democracy in the world, with wonder.
I would like to gently urge my fellow countrymen to ease up a bit. Voting, by itself does not a great country make, no matter how large the electorate or the number of occasions we have conducted the exercise successfully. What a cheery prospect, as we grind through 40 days of polling, across the length and breadth of the country.
It would be a good idea to face up to the fact that we do not have much to be proud about. After sixteen national elections, what exactly do we have to show for it? I will not trot out abysmal Human Development Index figures, at this point. Suffice to say that we are still one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world.
How could it be otherwise? Just look at our elections – from the smallest to biggest of them. Look at the parties in the fray. Not a single one that generates any degree of confidence. It pains my left of centre heart that even the workers party has failed me, the workers and the country. Look at the candidates. Not one inspirational figure among the lot, except the random, quixotic ‘independent’. These independents have, ipso facto, been ineffective.
Let us gloss over the many elections that have been rigged outright. I have much bigger concerns. Let us look at those elections which have not been rigged. What exactly is their worth? Elections have been fought between two or more parties of equally questionable credentials, fielding candidates of dubious merit. The few cases of disproportionate wealth accumulated during their tenures, which have been brought to the notice of civil society, are but the tip of the iceberg.
Look at the sources of election funding, which are mostly opaque, with inside information about corporate contributions. Which Corporation has ever contributed a rupee without valid expectations of favors to be granted, at the expense of the exchequer? The instances of corporate malfeasance, impossible without political collusion, are legion. And, depressingly, not a single party has been exempt.
Look at the platforms on which elections have been fought. Practically all of them have been based on religious and caste considerations. And, other parochial considerations – linguistic, regional factors etc.
When was an election ever fought on developmental issues? When was an election ever fought on the issue of social evolution? Which is how it should have been, but never has.
Fifty years in the making, and we still do not have a Jan Lokpal Bill. Women cannot get even 33% reservation in the Lok Sabha, when they should have been demanding 66%. The horror of the caste system has not been abolished.
I am fifty five years old, and have never voted. There never has been a party, a candidate, a cause that I wanted to vote for. For those who mindlessly repeat the humbug that it is the duty of every responsible citizen to vote, all I have to say is “Get real.” If I had the provision to vote against a candidate, a party, I would have voted, every time. (NOTA – None Of The Above – is not good enough.)
I intend to vote this time – for the Aam Aadmi Party, irrespective of the candidate. Flawed or not, it promises to be what we have not had so far. Completely different from all the political parties that we have had until now. What if they fail? That is not a guarantee that I came with, when I evacuated my mother’s womb. That is a chance I am willing to take. I will put my weight behind an initiative that appears to be bona fide on the surface.
I will make my vote count.
Till now there has not been a reason to vote. People have always voted for the wrong reasons, and elected the wrong parties to power. That is the reason the country is in the mess it is in. So, why all this fuss about these elections?
But then, if I did not have my vote, I would have fought for my right to vote. Nonce, my fight is validate the value of my vote. That, dear reader should be your concern, your fight, too. It is better not to vote, than to vote for the wrong reasons. And that is all that this country and its electorate have ever done.
Indians have no call to strut. This is just another election. Like all the other elections. We are just the biggest democracy, not the greatest. We are not even a ‘good enough’ democracy. We could make it into a decent democracy, if we tried.
For that, see the current elections for what they are. Don’t strut.