India Votes (Image: Internet)


As the world’s largest democracy goes to polls, the noisy cacophony that is India shows the world how it is done! Universal adult suffrage unlike any other, straddling religions, regions, education and caste….. 815 million voters who decide who forms government in Delhi. A logistical wonder, the Indian General Elections are watched by the world with awe.

For the first time the Indian voter appears to be looking beyond sops and election ploys. For the first time, growth appears to be the top of mind thought because now the average Indian voter knows that a 5% growth is just not enough to provide adequate jobs to our youth. For the very first time the rural voter prefers an efficient road to the closest city over a food subsidy which is likely to get sacrificed on the altar of the ineffective Public Distribution System. For the first time, the youth feels that our country deserves better representatives who are accountable and efficient.

The apathetic 1980s when voter turnouts were as low as 30-40% are mercifully relegated to history. 2014 Tripura, with an 85% turnout has shown us the way. Every metro has voted several percentage points higher than before. Remote hill regions, stark deserts and seemingly apathetic areas: have all risen in unison to elect their representatives. The Election Commission that presides over this mammoth wonder seems to have actually pulled it off; this is Democracy in action: in its purest form. Sukumar Sen, the first election commissioner of India, who presided over the First general Elections in 1952 set the ball rolling. Many illustrious incumbents later, we sit atop an efficiently managed behemoth, the Indian General Elections.

While I greedily lap up the reams that are written on the Indian Elections one nagging thought persists: if we pull of this exercise term after term; why do we struggle to pull off far less…..Why are lesser institutions like the Public Works Department, the NHAI, the Health ministry, the education department struggling to provide basics? Planning and pragmatic implementation are the mainstays of all initiatives….why do we fail repeatedly? Is the mandate not clearly known? Or, have we stopped believing in positive possibilities?

The loud chatter, the mud- slinging, the personal slights and the hysterical campaigning that make up the run-up to the polls make one think. While each one of us is performing our ‘duty’ by getting our finger inked; does our duty end there? Bad candidates, irresponsible parties, manifestoes that are never read after being published, poll promises that are promptly forgotten and sops that are dangled in front of hungry and vacant eyes. This is the unfortunate underbelly of the Indian Elections. So, when the 16th of May has come and gone, when the new PM is residing at 7, Race Course Road, when the new Cabinet is firmly housed in the Parliament and the new powers-that-be are throwing their weight around in the South Block, will the average voter in Amethi still wait for ‘ Indira Gandhi’ to show up so that he can air his grievances? Will the newest Maoist recruit still be at it, wondering what he is fighting for? Will the average Kashmiri continue to question his citizenship? And will all of us go back to the pictures of our inked index fingers on Facebook and feel satisfied with what we have done for our nation?

The time to think is here and the time to do is now.

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