Sunday, January 26, 2014

The ABCD of India’s political landscape

This Republic Day, a basic lesson on the country’s current political landscape...

A is for Aam Aadmi Party, the newest kid on the electoral block. Starting out as an anti-corruption movement, AAP sprang a surprise in the Delhi Assembly Elections. The sheer novelty of its approach has now put them at the centre of the country’s political discourse. How well the approach works in the long run remains to be seen.

B is for BJP, the principle asylum of India’s right wing political thought. The party attracts those who believe everything was hunky-dory in the Land of the Rajas & the Maharajas, until the successive invasions of the Moghuls and the Europeans deprived Bharat of her wealth & prosperity.

C is for Congress, the party that has governed the country for a major part of its existence. It has worn different garbs at different times in history, toying with socialism in the 60s & 70s, free market - liberalism in the late 80s & 90s and back to welfarism in the 21st Century.

D is for - what I call - the Dodos of Indian politics. These are parties other than the above three, mainly regional in existence. Most of them have little economic ideology and depend on narrow populism or chauvinistic programs to sustain their existence. 14 years into the 21st Century, many of them do not even have functional websites, let alone embrace emerging media and reach out to the voters of tomorrow. As the results of recent State elections show, most of these are facing extinction.

E is for Elections, that grand celebration of democracy that gives the people a chance to speak & be heard. Half the world population does not live in a democracy, and we are proud we have achieved a matured democratic infrastructure that allows for smooth transfer of power.

F is for Freedom, our most valuable possession. Freedom to live our own lives, the way each one of us wants to. It is upon us to use it responsibly and for the benefit of all, without malice and nuisance to others.

G is for Gandhi, the dominant name in India’s politics for the last hundred years. The original one lived a simple life; preached non-violence, truth and honesty. Later came the fake ones, whose contribution is more controversial.

H is for History, that which teaches us our lessons. It is upto us to ensure that mistakes of the past are not repeated in future.

I is for Independence, what India achieved on 15th August 1947. It means we are now the masters of our own destiny, and cannot blame others for what happens to us. Let us take it upon ourselves to put our house in order and make this a wonderful place for our future generations.

J is for Judiciary. An independent & efficient judicial system is a key pillar of any democratic set up. Despite some ups & downs, Indian judiciary has largely stood the test of time in its independence, though its efficiency leaves much to be desired.

K is for Kursi, the seat of power which is what all the fight is for! It is the magnet that attracts people to this game and can bind even the most disparate group of elements together.

L is for Listening, an ability that seems so short in supply among political class. A Parliamentary debate is in progress? We don’t care. Listening to the people? What is that?

M is for Media. A free & vibrant media is often considered the fundamental proof of an open society. The advent of technology and social platforms has added a new dynamic to this channel in recent times, handing even ordinary people an unprecedented power to be seen and be heard.

N is for Nexus, that invisible thread that binds politicians, bureaucracy, industry and the media together. You cannot see it easily, but know it exists!

O is for Outrage, the only thing which makes our political class sit up and take notice. You need an outrage against corruption, outrage against rape, outrage against terrorist attacks, outrage against anything, if something has to happen. Until then, things don’t move.

P is for the Public, the fools who follow the rules. Come election season, every politician swears by them but soon forgets once elected to power.

Q is for Quotas, supposedly the ticket to electoral success. Create a quota; create a vote bank, so goes the conventional thinking in the political class. Caste, class, religion, age, gender, language, even profession, location and what not - you name it and there is some quota somewhere on that basis!

R is for Rule, that misnomer used to describe what the people we elect are supposed to do. I suggest we use ‘Govern’, which is the right word, as in, ‘BJP governs Goa’, ‘Congress governs Karnataka’, and so on. Not “…rules…”

S is for Scam, that recurring theme in our political discourse. From fodder to satellites, there seems to be one in everything.

T is for Taxes, the legitimate hard-earned money that is forcefully diverted from productive purposes to run the government. What happens to it afterwards remains a mystery!

U is for Unity, Unity which every party preaches, even as it goes around dividing the people.

V is for Vote Bank, that mythical entity that is supposed to keep you permanently in power. But as many are finding out lately, it may not actually exist!

W is for Wealth, what the Gods have bestowed on this nation – a very hospitable climate with an abundance of rain, water, sunshine, air and plenty of natural resources. It is upto us to make the best of it.

X is for the eXception! Once in a blue moon, a boy who delivered newspapers goes on to build missiles and even becomes the President. Untarnished, unblemished by everything around him. That the system allows him to reach such heights is what gives me hope.

Y is for Youth, the ‘demographic dividend’ of having one of the youngest populations in the world. This is the principle strength of India, the youth who will shape its destiny, its future.

Z is for Zero. Zero tolerance for corruption, zero tolerance for mis-governance, zero tolerance for crime. This is what the youth of this country should look for, when they vote in the coming elections!

Happy Republic Day!

Sunday, January 5, 2014