(As published in Unique Times June 2014 Edition)
What is different about elections in Kerala? For one, it is nothing short of a miracle to get your own voter’s identity card. Everyone was asking me to vote, so by December 2013, I decided to apply for the card. And it turned out to be a roller coaster ride more difficult than the ones in Disneyland.
Over 40 working hours in two months were invested for this effort since I considered it my duty to procure one even though the officer appeared hostile. And I heard that many people could not exercise their legitimate franchise in Maharashtra. And many applicants of voter’s ID card could not get one yet. In Bangalore, illegal immigrants from Bangladesh were awarded the coveted Indian voter Identity card.
Election in India has immense possibility for entertainment. It is not a complete curry with the right masala, is as complicated as the election debate in India. Consider the alphabet soup. Congress(INC)UPA, NDA, SP, BSP, TMC, AIADMK, DMK, AAP, TRS, TDP, JD(U), JD(S), AG, CPI, CPI(M), NC, MNS, SAD, KJP, NCP and many more. You could be excused if you did not know most of these registered and organised political parties. And there are many more small parties and few ‘senas’.
You would not have missed the presence of Mamata, Mayawati, Jayalalita and Vasundhara Raje who are the most famous women faces in the political scene. This rung is one notch lower to the likes of Sushma and Sonia Gandhi. And you must also be familiar with Supriya Sule, Meenakshi Lekhi, Shazia Ilmi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra? Of course there are men too. But they have been adding distasteful comment on campaign trail, that I will skip their significance. But what about the old guards such as Ambika Soni, Jayanti Natarajan and Renuka Choudhary on one side? On the other side are the kinds of Uma Bharati among others.
Well, now you will agree with me that these people have kept us amply entertained during this season. Consider the histrionics, many are choreographed and some spontaneous. This script can inspire Bollywood for their dialogues. Amit Shah, Beni Prasad Verma, Imran Masood, Asaduddin Owaisi and Giriraj contributed immensely to this cause. Arvind Kejriwal filled the space of spontaneous histrionics by being on the receiving end of slaps and ink splashes on face. Only a few politicians such as Chidambaram, Yashwant Sinha, Manish Tewari and Jayanti Natarajan chose to stay away from contest and competition Well, all these kept the average Indian voter entertained and informed.
But the broader question is, “Are you really happy about Indian elections?” You may have spent a lot of your valuable time to watch endless and inclusive debates or may be was it the interviews that alerted you? Many a time you will be justified to be the member of a fan club of a celebrity television show anchor, such as Karan Thappar, Rajdeep, Arnab or even Barkha. There are many vernacular heroes who grilled the political people as if it was a court room.
In an age of information overload, any amount of sensationalizing can only be seen as more information. Even if it amounts to an overkill of an event or situation by extreme reporting practices of the correspondents. So, have we come full circle in this campaign? Not yet, because there are targets from the industry. Robert Vadra, Gautam Adami and Mukesh Ambani to name a few. The periodic exposure of bureaucrats and their revelations makes for conversation content. Did you hear about the reports by CAI? Or the book by Sanjay Baru called ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’, and the punitive action against IAS officers such as Durga and Khemka?
All these happened during election time, and now the stage was set for the actual business of elections. Consider the number of industries that flourished. Textiles really stuck gold with the banners and various flags that decorated the streets. The helicopter service and transport vehicles for volunteers, barricade, stage erection, security, sound system and all communication devices and other work of ground preparations also kept thousands of people employed.
People from advertising, promotion and publicity and branding are also paid well during the season called Indian election. Many businesses made good profit. Anyone with a really sharp tongue and little reasoning of the correct type, could easily become a spokesperson. They simply learnt to argue about everything. So the business in the election season invoked immense resources and made many entrepreneurs wealthy.
Do we need standup comedians to make a satire on the dramas that happen in the election season? Perhaps not, as the larger drama of campaigning is beamed into your bedrooms, dining rooms and mobiles by television channels. They are the other side of the alphabet soup. CNN IBN, APP, NDTV, ZEE, CNBC, ETV and ABP. I will not be surprised if one day the Indian election information may encroach into channel V and MTV.
Many catholic priests, Fr.Frazer Mascarenhas, Shan Imran Bukhari, Ramdev Baba and spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar were not spared.
How does the global Indian view this virulence in his home country called India? The NRI in all good faith seems to be able to donate money to favorite political parties, but they are not an integral part of political action because they are not allowed to vote.
But what is the objective of this massive people movement called Indian election? To govern, to bring growth and development? We also need strict implementation of laws as guided by the Constitution of India.
Reservation and quotas in jobs and education must be restricted to three years to anyone. Then they must compete like everyone else in a free market like in sports and athletics. The judicial system can do with a revamp so that they can expedite verdicts. And the judicial system can check the possibility of a uniform civil code for all citizen of India.
The citizen can certainly be categorized into two, law-abiding citizens and law violating citizens. This is more legitimate than classifying as right, left of right, centre of left and left. The role model has to inspire citizens to give their muscle, might and resources to clean up the system. If you do so, you can determine the future of India.