We are about to be rudely reminded of the exhilarating power of our vote in a perfectible, but not yet perfect, Democracy. That precious right, which Democracy doles out to those of us above a certain age, is set to determine the future of the States which went to elections recently. Subsequently, in those States, poverty will be wiped out, religious divides will vanish, education will be available to all and some weavers may get some more subsidies.
What utter and complete baloney!
For some additional entertainment, we may also be treated to the dysfunctional manic-depressive behavior of the Nifty over the next few days, as it watches the dance of courtship which is currently on in Uttar Pradesh. Crude, Iran and Greece will yield pride of place to UP for a brief while, as far as the bourses are concerned.
And just think! It was your vote that caused it all!
By April, annoying facts pertaining to gross abuse of power, will fall by the wayside once the Political machinery starts humming in these States. The spin-doctoring, political vendettas and blatant misrepresentation and obfuscation of facts will assume centre-stage; and we the people, will resume our collective ain’t-it-awful-but-what-can-can-we-do stance. Occasionally, we will erupt in child-like glee when another Politician bites the dust and is put on the bus to Tihar.
On balance though, for the voters and the citizens, the positives will outweigh the negatives. And for that, I am expected to be eternally grateful. I am! Ah, the power of the Vote, the wonder of democracy, the exaltation of criminals – nay, some criminals - who have been elected to august houses; the Government for a few, by a few, of a few. Like I said, eternally grateful.
What a wonderful little system of making us feel a part of something when in reality our stake is limited to walking to the neighborhood polling booth every few years. EVM punched, we are then supposed to shut up and sit quietly in our little corner of the world for the next few years, watching institutionalized loot and plunder. When the angst gets too much to bear, we are offered the cathartic choice of lapping up a few reports, debates and columns, thanks to the media, which highlight rampant criminalization of, and corruption in, politics. When frustration and disgust peaks, you can always print a few placards using office stationery, don some i-am-anna caps and rabble-rouse a bit – you have that option as well.
But is there a way out of this mess?
Yes and No! Yes, because Electoral Reforms as a concept first touched the Indian Political landscape in what is the known as the Tarkunde Committee Report. Even a blind and pessimistic squirrel can find a nut now and then.
No, because this report is dated 1975. Nineteen Seventy-friggin-five ?!
This 1975 report dealt largely with issues pertaining to the authority, accountability, appointment process, tenure and powers of the Chief Election Commissioner. A modest beginning, some would call it. The maladies and distortions in our Election landscape are widely believed to have made their maiden appearance in 1971, in the 5th General Elections. And between then and now, there have been multiple reports and recommendations on the issue of Electoral Reforms.
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