The lessons learnt from the recently concluded assembly elections in five states, which many dub incorrectly as semi final to 2014, are many. While one can endlessly debate about the debacle of the elephant, the nullification of a charismatic Gandhi, the beating of anti incumbency by Badals and Parriker, the see-saw game in Chhatisgarh and the strange political dynamics of the north eastern Manipur, there is one fact that has reiterated itself yet again. The fact that is the undercurrent no matter what superficial phenomenon occurs. And that undercurrent is the subtle yet strong power of democracy.
There could be a thousand and yet more flaws in Indian political system. For it is deep entrenched in the sub conscious that the word politician and corrupt are synonymous. There also is the realisation of the fact that the voter does not even have a choice of better candidates. A situation akin to ‘caught between the devil and the deep blue sea’ could aptly describe the dilemma of the average Indian voter. But to annul such a downward spiralling event, multi party democracy in India provides more choices. Unlike in nations where one has to choose between two, in India we can choose one among many.
While the traditional belief was that the voting ‘mass’, the weaker sections of the society, could be bought with wad of cash, liquor and food, the spread of education/literacy/media outreach has made that mass smart. The honeytrap doesn’t work for urban and affluent voters. Not that it would matter given the dismal voting rate they display. A case in point has been Tamil Nadu where such antics did not pay off. This however does not suggest that the Indian voter has come of age and does not succumb to pulls and pressures or for that matter to lure. But trends over the past few years have shown an increase in the maturity of the voter, which certainly has been boosted by the democratic fabric of the nation.
Despite the doomed picture, especially of the political framework of the country, as presented in news media, it is heartening in comparison to many nations of the world. India thankfully is no Syria or Libya, or for that matter the middle east, where dictators fuelled by oil rule the roost with religion as the plank. India thankfully isn’t North Korea or Russia or for that matter the dragon China where communism is the mask of exploitation, throttling of free choice and widespread nepotism. India thankfully is not the score of African nations where private militias call the shots. And certainly not a Pakistan.
India for that matter is thankfully not the US where bipartisan politics, even though working successfully, leaves less choice and limits greater diversification of ideas. India also thankfully isn’t the UK, with a money guzzling monarchy at the top of the ladder. The Indian elephant might take many more years to match the development scale of these nations at its slow pace, but certainly it enjoys more freedom to roam about. There are plenty of ills, waiting to be eradicated, but at least in the electoral scenario, democracy, since the birth of the nation, has provided more goods.
In this regard the focus of pressure groups outside the ‘system’, be it NGO’s or the Anna team or any such group, should be to strengthen this democracy. The call for inclusion for none-of-the-above column is a welcome step, however imparting education and motivating more and more number of people especially the urban population to vote should be carried on with fervour. Democracy can be strengthened with increased participation, and increased participation can be induced with simplifying the rules and regulations that govern voting. The disenchantment of the youth with political scenario needs to be addressed.
It is convenient to crib about the system or the lack of it. Fault finding is a task that is carried out almost sub consciously about nearly everything that is around us. A take home message from the recent election results and a few prior to it should make us look at our democracy with optimism. Because amidst all the pessimism lies the fact that, this Indian voter, despite all the travails, can choose his representative, can accept cash and kind from one party and not vote for it, can overthrow a corrupt regime, can bring back a performing government and in doing all so drive the juggernaut of democracy.