It is always the in-thing to write about seasonal stuff, among those that are seasonal in this part of the year like jackfruit, watermelons, mangoes and the like, Indian elections seem to stand out as the one that will endure this season, and another 5 summers if all goes well, unlike the other temporal stuff taken for comparison. Enough said, elections and politics have generally been given a "Jobless man's topic for discussion" in a tea kadai or barber shop or even at family get-togethers, while we all know that the Country's destiny deserves far more attention than a tea time conversation of jobless individuals..
The emphasis on showing up for voting, the apathy that the educated class have had for this grand large scale manifestation of democracy have all been talked enough about. Interestingly there is a strong and loud reversal of such cliches, with the growing educated and socially conscious middle class (at least in big cities and metros) showing interest in taking part in national / local governance. The most obvious and welcome change in this respect is how the rise of AAP has bridged the thick wall between the political class and the common man. But for anything, this is the biggest positive that I see in the rise of AAP which is expected to shift the power base and not just be a vote splitter between the 2 major national parties / alliances in 2014.
The objective of this post is not to give a partisan view and suggest one party or alliance over the other but to give pointers to help decide for yourself, in this rather complex and long term determinant of the destiny of our Nation state in a constructive and conclusive manner, as to which political party you want to give your mandate for the next 5 years.
We have all heard that the citizens get the leader they deserve; as a Country, we have been proven to be quite wanting in electing a leader who has truly taken the nation to fulfill its true potential in achieving inclusive development, looking beyond petty internal quarrels in the 65+ years that we have had this opportunity of choosing a leader.
Now, if we try to start from basic questions it would help fill the larger need that the democracy wishes to fulfill. Here, I would like to draw a parallel with Maslow's need hierarchy theory of growing from basic physical needs to the more advanced ones. What does the common man, you and me, expect out of the Nation - it can range from ensuring food-clothing-shelter, gainful employment, ensuring balanced industrial and economic growth, administering protection or physical security against external or internal threat and maintenance of order in the society to equality of genders, race, geography, religion, caste and all those tabs that are used to categorise us as citizens of this Country. The physical / safety needs in today's context would extend to include self sufficiency in terms of energy, internal and external relations with neighbours and the other powerful Nation states that have a large say in matters of global importance.
As you can clearly see, it is the bottom 2 rungs in the pyramid that any Nation state can provide directly to the citizens, but it is these that form the foundation stones for the other more advanced needs which the citizens can build further upon to lead challenging, satisfying and happy lives. Defining what we are expecting out of it helps gain a perspective to decide upon the matter, it is true for any aspect of life and hence for elections as well. Now, we know what any good successful government can provide for the Nation that voted them to power. While the whole Nation is a heterogeneous mass beyond anyone's comprehension, such generalization of needs is to bring in a common denominator since we are talking of the common expectations of a billion and a quarter.
A majority of the country's population is stuck in their daily struggles in realising the bottom 2 rungs of the pyramid and trying to equate them with the BPL definitions which constitute anywhere between 20 and 33% of the population, depending upon on whose definition you want to follow, would result in a gross understatement, while a staggeringly low proportion of the population can claim to be attempting to aim at the higher rungs of needs. Categorising the globe into developing or developed nations is broadly on what proportion of their Country's population have ticked off starting from the bottom.
In fact, it is good governance if Governments concentrate their efforts on just fulfilling the bottom 2 rungs and leave it to the Citizens to venture into the other more advanced needs. To explain the above, we have had enough instances in recent memory where Government and its machinery have tried to go beyond their realms, like trying to teach people how and where to love, whom to love and even how to make love, which religion to follow, which God to worship, which languages to speak, which part of the Country to live and so on.. This is only an indicative list and can potentially get endless but the case in point is to clearly scope out what the Government needs to be doing and what should be in their negative list. In making your decision on the D-day it would help to decide if the party you want to support is over doing stuff they don't need to interfere in, or under doing stuff they need to be putting their heads together.
As a rightful beneficiary (can't term citizens as consumers, after all, the foundations to our Governance was formed on socialistic principles) to the process of Governance we need to have a fair idea on what to expect out of the Government, people contesting to form the Government are supposed to have their goals cut out in the form of a manifesto which is the voice and soul of what their party intends to do if given an opportunity to rule over you!
I intend to make this a serial post of may be 3-5 episodes in the next 9 days before we get to vote, intending to cover a comparison of the manifesto of different political parties, the possible combination of alliances, and delve deep into top items in their manifestos and to analyse the track record of major parties in achieving their past promises, whether to take the sides of known devils or unknown angels, the relation between failing memory and anti-incumbency, whether freshers do a better jobs than veterans, what it takes to be a political leader, personality profiles of those who are expected to occupy the cabinet if voted to power and so on..
Caption for the day - The Bachans seems to suggest if it is the wrong party you vote for, be prepared to have it up your .... for the next 5 years.