Saturday, March 7, 2009

Why we should vote, at least this time!!

So, the once in five years circus is in town again. Yes, I’m referring to our very own dance of democracy- the general elections- the month long tandav that captivates a billion people, on which crores are spent by our mighty political parties, and the sure-shot short term TRP boost for all our news channels! April and May are going to add to the already unbearable heat of the Indian summer, thanks to the high-octane election action.

Now, and this is something I firmly believe, this election is different, or rather, should be treated differently, by both the ruling class as well as us- the ‘Youngistaan’ generation. Traditionally, as far as our generation is concerned, and by this I mean the city-bred middle class youth, we have been least bothered by the outcome of elections, and who comes to power, and the primary reason behind that has been the fact that most of us have not cared to vote at all. And for good reason, I mean, who do we vote for? The thoroughly inept and corrupt politicians almost seem a mirror image of each other, and would it really matter who comes to power this time as well?

It will. And there are reasons for that. First, rarely has the country, or indeed the world (still, I’m restricting myself to the country level for the time being) been faced with such a two-pronged trouble as it is being faced with now- terrorism and recession. The last 4-5 years have seen a march by India inc. towards a stronger economy and a louder voice on the world fora, due primarily to our companies performing creditably on the world stage, and another factor which we often tend to overlook- our being a successful democracy is something a lot of countries around the world look up to. However, all that has been briefly halted by some unfortunate events in the last 5-6 months- the shameful Satyam saga, the Mumbai attacks as well as the global recession the effects of which are being felt in India as well.

Now, what will any one who comes to power do about all this, you might ask. A lot, actually. Lets go one by one on the issues discussed. Terrorism, a critical issue at the quietest of times, is living amongst us, hatching devious schemes, and the fact that we are living in a dangerous neighborhood, as the recent SWAT deal has demonstrated, only adds to the criticality of the issue. Thus, the need becomes paramount of having the right people in power who would be able to look after internal security as well as frame pragmatic realpolitik policies, which is always a fine balancing game. Next, the recession. The past few days have demonstrated to us the importance of governments having to step in to bail out sick private sector behemoths, and having a good bunch of policy-makers and economists at the helm is all too important and can never be over-stressed to see us through this current crisis.
Of course, all said and done, first we don’t know if our politicians would actually be upto scratch to take care of all these issues in an effective manner, and even if some of them are, we are not sure if we know who they are. Of course, the perennial grouse is always there as an excuse- what difference will it make if I vote? Will the right guys come to power? Well, they will certainly not if we don’t vote, and the final argument, similar to all youth who use it against there parents when arguing in favour of love marriages, if I choose my life-partner (read-policy makers), I know I will be responsible for the state of my life (read country), now isn’t that a feeling worth having?