After the elections…

Knowing me as an NDA supporter, people have directed a bunch of reactions at me after the results came out yesterday.  Included mockery, ‘i told you so’, consolations, and some others as disappointed, trying to find the way forward from here.

While the election results surprised me, like anyone else (pretty much?), the political irrelevance of my work, in writing blogs or talking to people had become clear to me, just the next day of elections. I had really sit down to understand what was happening at the booths really and how things on ground were really done and decided – the real politics, the real decisions – taken by people who do it as a transaction, not so much as the ‘jagruk yuva’ of the country.

Now theorists are talking about votes having been bought, EVMs being rigged and all that, but an electoral victory is an electoral victory and one can’t take away the credit from the winners for that.

So here’s congratulating the UPA leadership for having pulled it off rather well. I admire the discipline and the unquestioned hierarchy and leadership that seems to come across, so what if I don’t approve of the leaders themselves.

Was on a UTVi show, shot yesterday, (actually to bail out the host friend, who needed some talkers) to discuss the happiness or otherwise with the UPA and the expectations with this new government. While I’d have serious doubts about their capability as well as intentions in making a real difference, like I’m being told by Rahul’s fans, lets give him a chance. Chance it is, to prove his mettle in the parliament, when he’s got unquestioned power in his hands, and this time, the left is reduced to irrelevance too, so no more excuses on that count.

So what’s now the role of the urban, educated youth now, beyond voting. Firstly, I don’t agree that people who didn’t vote don’t have the right to ask questions or to complain now. They (or their parents) have been paying taxes to the government and that gives them every right to expect certain things in return. The first among them, is transparency and accountability on where the tax revenues are being spent.

To take the role seriously would mean that we don’t wait for another five years to evaluate the report card of the current government, but make intermittent checks that keep them under pressure to perform well over the next five years and if nothing is done, prove their hollowness. Rahul did all the youth-friendly college trips and held slum kids in his hands in poll time. It remains to be seen how far the interfacing with the youth continues, now that he’s in power.

Once you mention a political affiliation, people tend to forget about your essential bigger objective, which is to contribute to the society and nation in a positive manner. I continue to stand by the BJP and against the Congress. (Yet to ascertain which feeling is stronger). Congress is in power, fair enough, but to keep tabs on it, would need a principled and powerful opposition, an unbiased media and a demanding customer base of voters who wouldn’t be satisfied till their questions are answered and demands are met.

Trying to not let their past goofups bias me, I’ll try to keep track of what this sarkaar does and be an honest critic.

I hope that they’ll have an interface for people to reach to them – beyond Milind Deora and Priya Dutt’s facebook accounts.

I hope the PMO doesn’t now issue ‘secular’ statements giving the first right to the country’s resources to a particular religious community – but looks at India as India, not a sum of vote banks.

I hope Rahul Gandhi starts a blog and has someone update it frequently enough – not to tell us about his columbian girlfriend, but his political vision and what he’s doing to take the country forward.

I hope fundamentalist leaders from any religion don’t command our central policies and Rahul doesn’t feel the need to bend to anyone’s demands this time around.

Much like Amir Khan talked about the pro-voting campaigns for ADR, I urge people to become more demanding as customers. We lose patience at the omissions of our service providers, lets be a lot more demanding of those who govern us.

Lets take protests beyond the domain of the NGOs and do our own jobs beyond candle light vigils.

Lets ‘stay awake’ , beyond a one day ‘jaago re’.

Lets organize ourselves as ‘youth’, as ‘taxpayers’, as ‘citizens’, as ‘IT professionals’, a phone/internet users, flyers, retail buyers –  and make demands, instead of the caste and religion based identities to make demands.

For those who supported the UPA, the task is far from over, and those who were with the NDA, the challenge is even bigger now.

So now lets see what the youth can do for the country.

Can Educated India be politically relevant?

Much as there are a whole bunch of things I don’t like or understand about democracy, I won’t engage in arguing for or against it, simply because Democracy is here to stay, whether you and I like it or not.

What we do have in our hands, is the implications. Of divisive politics, and of caste based vote banks and the choice for us to become ‘relevant’

The underlying fact is, each of us, by himself, only has one vote and inadvertently allow vote banks to be created on the lines of caste and religion. One leader from an XYZ community can promise a few thousand votes of his people, knowing full well that they stand behind him. He can bargain for anything, including reservations, or other kinds of personal favors, or cash.  He won’t even shy away from taking to the streets or outright hooliganism, knowing that the politician dare not displease him and his vote bank.

And then, of course, there are the businessmen looking for their share of the pie out of the thousands of crores of government spending on various projects. They can fund the candidates’ campaigns, and money can then buy numbers. Don’t we all know of the several instances of country liquor, saris, biryani and other things distributed to buy slumdwellers’ votes.

And if you can get a vote ‘bank’ by any move, it’s anyday preferable to collecting individual votes, it’s a much better Return on Time Invested after all.

On the other hand, if as Responsible Indians, we were to come together and take collective political decisions, there’s a lesser chance that we’d be manipulated by short term poll tactics. We could constitute a vote bank, that means business and can’t be fooled. I’m not asking for blind following, or denouncing individual choice and freedom, just a more collective approach.

Simply put,

Why can’t a Tax Payers’ association stand up and make demands, that we’ll vote for the government that shows better transparency with the way tax revenue is spent?

Why can’t an IT professionals’ association stand up and say that we want better educational institutes ?

Why can’t a Youth Group, promise a few thousand votes for better attention to youth affairs – employability and vocational education?

Because we’re too busy to unite. We’re too busy to lend our voices to such causes. And, often, we have personal interests, that rise above the interests of our group or even the nation. (one of my most disappointing personal experiences, to note this in a young professional, who was too busy to help, but was keen do it for money.)

The trouble with smart people is that they’re really smart. We’re extremely difficult to convince. We’re too smart to follow the words of any leader. We have endless questions. We’re wishful thinkers who can enjoy a political discussion in the drawing room, but leave it at that. And we’re supremely cynical about the politics of the country.

And We they stand alone. One smart guy doesn’t easily trust the judgment of another smart guy. Even after he is convinced, none of us can claim to represent the political preferences of even a close friend circle. Because we’re shy of taking a public stand. Because we fear defying group behavior. We can’t step out of the herd. We’re afraid we’d be judged.. We’d stand out, we’d lose social approval……

The essential Mantra, is United we stand, divided we are irrelevant.

It’s time to waken the voice within and add weight to it, to become politically significant!

So lets stop taking the holier than thou approach, and start getting our hands dirty to clean up our home!

It’s time to start talking politics.

To Join Hands! To Ask Questions!

It’s akin to the freedom struggle, the quest this time, is the redemption of the nation!

P.S. This is an entirely politically neutral post! The change I want to see in the world – Hear a voice, irresepctive of political preferences! And this pursuit must continue, even after the elections are over and the powers are established. Whichever way. The Change will not be overnight.