Elections the indian way
November 14, 2009 2 Comments
India’s EVM impresses the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A nation like India with a huge illiterate population adopting an automated voting system surely is an impressive achievement.
But I suspect that Hillary is more than impressed with the real EVM of India that is the Indian Election Vote Machinations.
For the most technologically advanced country in the world, arguably, the electronic voting system per se cannot hold too much of an interest. Especially for Hillary.
It is the quality of Indian elections that should interest the US Secretary of State.
India may be sorely lacking quality in comparison with US on many fronts, but the sterling quality of indian elections is unparalleled.
For starters, can the US “boast” of a galaxy of “political stars” such as Mayawati, Lalu, Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa (note the extra a), Deve Gowda, The Thackerays, Mulayam and not to forget Vattal Nagaraj.
Readers who are bemused about the inclusion of Vattal Nagaraj, know this : He is the only one, repeat the only one, in the history of ‘world politics’ who staged an ‘Airplane roko’.
Bus Roko, Train Roko – we’d seen it all, but an ‘Airplane roko’ ? That’s a first isn’t it ?
That apart, permit me to elaborate the qualities of an Indian election.
First the funding. In the US, democrats and republicans launch a series of fundraisers clearly reflecting the pathetic state of the political system.
Fundraisers in India ? My foot !
If you don’t have the funds you are not in the election race.
While organizations the world over would be measuring themselves on ROCE, the Indian Election works on the principle of ROCSE – Returns on Cash Spent (on) Elections.
Warren Buffet may be the legendary investor, but quite immodestly I suggest that he’s not even a patch on our local MLA in terms of ‘Return on Investment’.
The candidate selection. The parties in US conduct primaries to elect their presidential candidate asking the candidate to prove their ‘acceptability’ within the party.
Little do the Americans realize that this arrangement of ‘election before the actual election’ has such a dampening effect on the psyche of the voters and candidates alike.
Contrast this with the Indian system of candidate selection. Replacing thesimple consideration of acceptability are the complex considerations ofCaste, Money power, Muscle power and ‘lung power’. Who wants a MLA or MP who cannot be heard over the din in the Parl or Assembly ?
Next the works. Can the bland ‘For Obama’, ‘For Hillary’, ‘For Palin’, ‘Change’ placards can even match the gigantic, free-power illuminated ‘cut-outs’ that our politicos give us ?
Do our cities look anytime more beautiful than during elections ? I think not.
The posters speaking the veritable truth about the leaders plastered all over the walls of the city, perfect meal for the city’s free spirits – cows, asses, buffalos – and employment for the street urchins.
Do you know of an election system that is more equitable ?
The claims in the posters can vary from plain ordinary to audacious. The posters are also a way of remembering the past leaders and creating protégés.
No congress poster is complete without photos of Nehru, Indira, and Rajiv almost making the voter feel that they are living amongst us, right now.
Indian election posters also create new protégés. The next MGR, the heir to Kanshi Ram are but creations of this humble Indian Election Instrument, the wall poster.
US may boast of a Wall Street that controls the world financial market, but it is the walls of the indian street that more often than not decide the fate of indian governance.
Next the election speech. Absolutely no comparison here. By now we all know that Obama, the great orator that he was regarded stuttered his way into US presidency but surely even he is no patch for the oratory skills of a Karunanidhi or Thackeray or Lalu.
The ‘Muslim lineage’ was an issue albeit very briefly for Obama but in case of the Indian elections, the lineage could go as far back as 300 years. Indian elections are almost fought on who’s less unacceptable as the leader and certainly it cannot be decided on recency.
Last, certainly not the least are the election promises. Free TVs, Free Gas stoves, Rice, what not, you have it. US certainly has more than a lesson to learn here.
By the way the promises are meant to be just that. Don’t bother us asking about implementing them.
With just over 5000 political parties, the ingenuity of indian election system in creating new symbols is something worth noting. The Indian election symbols could easily inspire Dan Brown and his legendary protagonist professor of symbology Robert Langdon a novel or two.
The events unfolding on the election day would require a seperate post so I give that a miss but not before saying that the indian voter is truly the ‘King’ on that day.
We could happily endure years and years of misrule, apathetic governancejust for that day.
The saga of Indian Election Vote Machinations (EVM) is the most engrossing tale of all time. It comes as no surprise that Hillary Clinton is so patronizing.
If only she could read this post, I am sure it would be the initiation of a long almost fatalistic attraction with the Indian political system and its cogwheel the Indian Elections.
Hillary for PM anyone ?