May 18, 2009

The Dance of Democracy

So finally the biggest political show on earth comes to an end. It might not have captured the attention of viewers the world wide as Barack Obama and his election had done, but it had all the ingredients of a mega movie. And once again we, India, had tried our level best let down Bharat.

This post had seen the light of the day when Mumbai had refused to vote. I restarted it when Calcutta came out to exercise their rights in full strength and then stopped again in shame of being part of an India that did not care about Bharat.

Today as the country is dancing to the tunes of Singh is King, I stand convinced that Bharat has stopped waiting for India to dole out the alms. Bharat is taking her own decisions. This is a historic moment because this time around, religion and caste did not take a centre stage, this time around people voted out the goons, this time around money power failed to cause a dent in the silent determination of Bharat.

I had spent much of my initial time in Corporate India in the Hindi Heartland and had realized that slowly yet steadily Bharat was learning the power of the Ballot. She knew that bullets could silence one but could never silence the voice of millions. The unfortunate part however was that often seeing the fate of one, millions decided never to challenge the atrocities. As I talk to people today across India, I just know that Bharat is becoming stronger. The newly wed lady from the outskirts of Nasik wants the same things as that of the newly wed lady in Greater Kailash. Bharat now wants to get into a consumerist mindset, ready to leap into the next stage of aspiration. It wants stability and it knows an honest politician when it sees one.

This election was not against one leader against the other. It was a referendum on the work one of them had done. Bharat was seeing the effect of the NREGS, Bharat was getting the benefit of the Sarba Shiksha Yojna, however flawed it might be. Inflation was at an all time low, but not the prices of Food grains. The farmers were assured that they were in safe hands, at least for now. The farmer in Chevela does not care what is being said in the studios of TV News Channels in Delhi. Yes, his family might go and vote for Chiru once but no longer again and again. Anti incumbency is a factor to come into play when bad governance is the norm. Not when there is work being done. It’s obviously still about ideologies, but a lot more on governance.

And that was the reason despite what Mr. Adiga might believe, I always was of the opinion that the Awakening was near. Maybe not in my life time but definitely in the next generation. The winds of change were sweeping away ages of stagnation across India. There needn’t be a White Tiger, as the elephant was slowly shaking off its lethargy, first to fight itself and then walk proudly with the Dragon.

Post 26/11, I thought India shining would become India Awakening and come out to change the world. But unfortunately they were busy doing other things.

Let’s start with me. Around December I started finding out how to get myself registered in Mumbai so that I could vote in Mumbai. I need a residential proof. I was told that my lease agreement would suffice. The last date of registration was in April and I thought I was well on time. Now there is this interesting thing about Landlords in Mumbai. They are visible when you sign the contract; they come to the surface when a cheque bounces and finally the third time when they want to evict you. Now my landlord vanished as usual completely forgetting the simple fact that he has to give us the contract. A couple of phone calls and still I was waiting for the lease. And slowly, April moved on to May. I was still a registered voter in Calcutta. On Election Day, I was out with my camera, cycling all around Bandra West to catch glimpses of the Poll fever. And there was nothing to see. It must have seen one of the lowest polling rates across the country. I earn enough to take a flight back to Calcutta and vote. And I didn’t do that either. I am not proud of myself. But somewhere deep down, I knew what the outcome of both my birth and currently living constituencies would be. That’s not an excuse. And amongst the few times in my life when I haven’t liked who I was, this was one of them.

I also normally do not get irritated with people. But during those days, every Tom, Dick, Harry and Jane were saying how important it was to vote and yet they were not voting. Worse, they were commenting how indifferent Mumbai was. I felt like catching everyone by their collar and shaking them shouting, “You are Mumbai.” I was surprised at myself. I never am so disturbed. Maybe I was upset at myself, at the pretension around me, I do not really know. Guess, reading Scott Adams at that point of time was not the best thing to do, especially when he talks about how “in-duh-viduals” will ensure that all elections are at the end of the day a farce. Few friends who went out and voted in Calcutta and Bangalore assured my troubled mind that all was not lost.

One day as I had come back dejected from office, I was telling a friend, sometimes I know what I am doing is right, but I also know that it is stupid. Dr. Singh, perhaps had thought so too when he pushed for the Nuclear Deal. It was his suicide note, commented many. The young Gandhi faced the ridicule of many when he went ahead alone and risked it all. And Indian voters rewarded his bravery. If he had lost his bet, he would have been termed a foolish gambler, but as one who had sensed the pulse of the Hindi heartland, he knew what he was doing.

To win and be humble is something few are capable of. Let us see how things turn out. But as of now, Singh is King and the Opposition must take the time to introspect. Good guys; do not always finish last. Of course, twenty years from now unknown skeletons might come out of the closet but as of today I want to believe.

But I am worried. I am worried about 2011. The Assembly Elections in Bengal promise to be a fight to the last bullet, the last ballot and probably also the last drop of blood. But maybe, sense will prevail and democracy will win.

“This, my dream, shall come true -- if not in this generation at least in the next. If it remains an empty dream, I shall prove a fool. If it comes true, I shall prove a prophet. This, my legacy, I bequeath to you.”

You would be surprised to find out who said these lines.


WSW said...

This, My Legacy", he had written: "If we are to live with honour and dignity as a Hindu nation -- and we have the right to do so -- that nation must emerge under the Hindu flag. This, my dream, shall come true -- if not in this generation at least in the next. If it remains an empty dream, I shall prove a fool. If it comes true, I shall prove a prophet. This, my legacy, I bequeath to you."

-Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Yes.I googled.And I do not know if it was intentional the missing first line

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ WSW - You would be surprised to know how little people know about the ideologies they say they support. Omitting was not intentional. I had come across this while comparing Gandhi's Ram Rajya concept with Advani's Hindutva a long time back when I used to read just for the sake of reading :)

It just felt right to put it there and I thought omitting the first line would make today's reality more ironical. People have attributed the quote to Gandhi.

Who decides which ideology wins? Who knows if Marxism would not return under the name of "alternative Capitalism"?

And finally when there's hunger in the belly, the greatest ideology is one that satiates the hunger

Anamika said...

sooper .... U know wat? am not a political person.. but I voted for first time :P of course background about contestants got from tv news :P

Anamika said...

not a political person in the sense.. i hate politics :)

Soumya Sen said...

I was surprised to learn that my home constituency, which has always been a part of South Kolkata, now falls under the North Kolkata constituency. But I am sure some generous person won't forget to cast my vote irrespective of the constituency to which I officially belong.

Shrutz said...

Tharoor was standing from INC for Trivandrum. He won by 100,000 votes.

Congress NEVER wins by more than 10,000 here.

I was so proud.

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@ Anamika - :) Media is a nice source

@ Soumya - Welcome to North Calcutta as much as you hate it :)

@ Shrutz - Are yo happy for the man or for the grand old party? :)