Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Great Indian Democratic Kumbhamela

The exercise of general elections in India is completed and the new parliment is convened..An event whose pentennial recurrence proved Winston Churchill to be a poor prophet.
In a period of two months the voters of our country braving the usually unrepentant Sub Continental Sun had decided the members to be of the most prominent rotunda of Lutyn's Delhi.
Once again those who need not bother where their next meal comes from have abstained en masse.Those whose destiny in life is to make the both ends meet have been herded off in hordres.The great Indian middle class is once again possessed by the Great Indian indifference.
Hoping to make a great difference to the voter turn out of these polls,ventured to convince some of my friends (some of whom have never seen the inside of a polling booth) to excersise their franchise.
Most were reluctant to get their names included in the election rolls even after they were told the where abouts and what-to-do-insides of the enrolling offices,for flimsy excuses. (One wished the office to enrol his name on the weekends and another friend could not afford to travel to the place where his street ends.)
A one time voter with a grand vision of the 'Suffrage in the digital age" wished the elections to be conducted on line so that he could vote on site(without having the need to visit a polling booth). In a country where election officials had to deploy elephants to camels, boats to helicopters to meet the logistical needs of geographically inaccessible polling stations to reach till last eligible voter, one can understand the feasibility of conducting elections online.
A virgin voter who never had had his nail smeared with the election ink asked me to show him at least one candidate with integrity among the contestents in his constituency so that he can vote for. It reminded me of the conversation of Buddha and the woman who lost her son where in Buddha asks her "Fetch me a fistful of mustard seeds from a house where no one had died".Realized that going by the anology I am enacting the role of the loser; changed the topic of discussion.
A tea company joined by an NGO awakened the Indians to vote.Many young,educated,urban Indians who were targeted by the Clarion call yawned loudly,declaring a new age has dawned. But on the polling day most of them have gone back to deep sleep.
Atal Bihari vajpayee, the former prime minister of India was apt when he compared the elections with Kumbhmela.It is the only other exercise which draws comparable no of crowds for a single cause.It is held for every 12 years.There are many more similarities for the two events apart from the periodical recurrence.The no of political parties in India is growing day by day and without loss of sensibility can be compared to the no of Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu patheon.Each piligrim pays homage to his or her favourite God or Goddess based on his own idiocyncrasies,while taking a plunge into the filthy(but sufficiently holy) waters of Ganges, just like the voter inside the polling booth chooses his favourite candidate based on the amount he was handed on the election eve, pedigree,caste,religion,region and very rarely the merit and competativeness of the contestant.Both involve many colours and multitude of symbols,vociferous and chaotic.Again both the actors (piligrim and voter) are happy because they are very much content with what they get.They never give importance to the the return on investment (ROI) as much as to the return of the event (No one doubts the divine providence they recieve by dint of the holy dips or any increase in the living standards they obtain by virtue of the legislative acts).
Is our democracy going to be a rule of the despicable made possible by the mandate of the gullible for the absence of the sensible?

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