Friday, April 24, 2009

The Great Indian Tamasha and other ideals

Cynicism apart thousands if not lakhs of people walked/rode/(insert mode of transport here) to their respective polling stations and exercised their adult secret franchise yesterday. Secret taking second priority, as most wear their political affiliations on their chests. For me secret remains equally important as the right to exercise my vote. A strong ideal ingrained in me by my father who in turn had been adviced similarly by his father.

A large part of the day was however spent in cynicism, evaluating the bios of the candidates and their manifestos. A mighty task made simpler by Mammoth rather, as the Bangalore Central constituency had 37 candidates battling it out including a certain candidate from the BSP whose symbol inspite of violent ideals incidentally is the gentle pachyderm. Of the 37 candidates, 22 were independents. Independents whose manifestos had agenda varying from shockingly turning their constituency vegetarian to more mundane ideas which most politicians (wannabes included) stand for like water/electricity/education for everyone. My father wondered why there were so many in number. It was quite clear that some were in it for working for the betterment of society, others for the pride, some for the mere fact that they could spare Rs 10,000 to contest; but for most, its their single easiest way to achieve higher hits on the media waves.

The Economist labelled the jumbo democratic exercise as "The worst possible way of choosing a government—apart from all the others". I say the method is fine, the participants ignorant (some gullible) and the politicains (at least most of them) whose fate will be sealed for another five (hopefully) years, delinquents. The end result of this massive exercise will be a hung parliament. Independents and regional parties will eat into the vote banks leading to no clear cut results. Parties will look at reworking alliances post results to best suit their power and monetary requirements. Regional parties will become more vociferous on the national front, as they alreay are. I am sure all points aforementioned have been discussed and digressed about by psephologists/journalists/campaign managers/the public. But the point is: Is there an end to this Tamasha? And no clear answer dawns.

My solution would be to eliminate the number of political parties for the Lok Sabha elections. What we require is a basic two party system. The government and an opposition. A government who has administrative powers. All laws and rules will have to be passed by the general public. It would be a rather long process but it can be implemented. The government would act like a CEO and his team would be answerable to us and we would be the final stake holders. In a country like ours with its (trumpets and drum roll) diverse and colourful paradoxes (where else would you see two ladies walk side by side, one with a pot of water extracted from a hand-pump miles away from home and the other ipod plugged into her ears with the latest Laptop strung across her shoulder) such a proposition is hard to dream about but given the right incentive it should take off. As Alan Moore puts it in V for Vendetta, "People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people." A situation which is very much the case here.

The ideal situation would be when we have the freedom to pursue ends for our own good. What we deem good for ourselves physically and mentally and without impinging or denying what others deem their own benfits. But, as is the scheming mentailty of the human species loopholes will be literally expoited at the drop of the coin. The key word being ideal, utilitarianism is again a distant reality which I dont see happening in my progeny's let alone my own lifetime. However the 'human will' will survive and that day will come...soon.


Brahma said...

I suppose one fundamental aspect of democracy is that it is imperfect. You talk about a 2 party system, but we've had that in the US for a few years now and it does generate it's share of frustrations on the people owing to a multitude of reasons (can be the topic of a long diatribe!). Perhaps the cynicism isn't as frequently and vehemently expressed as in India, but it's there all the same.

Vivek Nenmini said...

Democracy has its fair share of loop-holes which are manipulated to a large extent by the power weilders. However the 2 party system looks from the outside atleast more comprehensible and easier to approach. The federal system is another thing in the US and similarly here with the Union and State Governments...and so on and so forth. Cynics will prevail though until "revolutionary" describes the fact that someone stormed their way to the presidential palace rather than an incredibly small phone which is a camera too and such.

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