Friday, April 17, 2009

Mockery of democracy?

After following the indian election feverishly, ive realized that the event hailed as the largest show of democracy in the world, is at best and worst, a joke. Sure 700 million strong electorate goes to poll booths inspite of the grueling weather and terrorist fears, and the usually quoted achievement is often how the poor cast more votes than the rich in india; that the election brings all the 6000 or so smaller communities together for one event.
Well it doesnt. Infact caste, social and gender differences are exploited more than any other time in country than during elections. The candidates themselves reach out to the voters on ethnic and caste basis. Another ludicrous aspect is the over prescence and involvement of these bollywood stars - all of a sudden SRK or aamir or others choose sides and use their stardom to promote certain ones. Not to mention the latest trend in bollywood of retiring into politics. More and more "stars" all of a sudden have a propensity to help out the cause of "aam admi" (common man); all of a sudden they feel philanthropic and their nationalism just bursts out. But perhaps the greatest challenge and humiliating aspect of the indian elections is that a huge chunk of candidates almost always have criminal records, not to mention concurrent cases!! About 25% of all candidates polling in the 2009 election have cases varying from the horrifying rape, assault, murder etc. to embezzlement, extortion, fraud. Finally this year i actually noticed a drive massed together by various organizations to raise publc awareness and have these candidates revoked. But by no means they are even close to making an imprint, atleast for the 2009 elections. I mean the fallacies and shortcomings of this "democracy" are endless. This year Times of India reported on the first day of polling instances of candidates caught red handed handing out cash and liquor to the slum dwellers to get their vote. I cant blame the people though for accepting, as the election time is perhaps the only time these people get any attention, let alone kickbacks. The slumdwellers, opportunistic as always, confessed to accepting gifts from multiple parties to their fortune. The one case I found extremely, I mean extremely dissettling and amusing at the same time was that in one state, party workers allegedly went door to door binding every woman they could find to cast votes for them by juxtaposing the elections along the concepts of husbandry and loyalty; they made the women swear on a saffron thread, ubiquitously used in hindu religious ceremonies including marriage, that they would pledge their support for the candidate just as they do for their spouse. I have to say that does demonstrate, albeit horribly, the clever, witty aspects of indians to circumvent the system. Jai Hind my friends....

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