Thursday, May 07, 2009

India Votes...

I got two messages - on the net - today from old friends/ students/ alumni... Both from the NCR region - the penultimate "Indian Dream of becoming USA"...

One read, which was posted:

"I voted. I am sad. Not sad because I voted but sad because an old myth got shattered. The myth that education makes you responsible. The myth that education enables to make decisions and a better decsion. The myth about education has been shattered. Abysmal 16.67% of polling in an area populated by primarily educated guys. You will have shell out INR 10 million to buy an apartment in the area. It hurts!"

The second one - an e-mail:

"...had to tell you this, had a strange experience voting today.

Gurgaon is one confused city in many ways - there are high-rises stumbling over  villages with their crumbling houses and still sustainable lifestyles. The voting centre was in some govt school just behind the apartment block we stay in, but somehow I  had never known that it even existed.  Its a government school after all, sad in many ways. I do know about the  swanky school not too far away, and another interesting school that follows an alternative kind of education system but i am digressing.

Anyway the approach road was dusty, clogged with  buffaloes heat flaking off their skin, and fancy SUVs, pigs lay about in the open sewer lines that ran by (and that was scary) and barber shops and grocery stores abutted right onto this road.

But the contrast hit hard when i stood in queue.  A far more skimpily dressed young woman stood in front of me, and behind - because there were separate queues for either sex - were several veiled women. The ghunghat reached down to their waists, and their arms were covered with bangles  up till the elbows and some could not understand the instructions of the lone police guard manning that centre.

But they understood after their men, tall, strong Jats most of them, I would think,  with their turbans, proud moustaches, and lathis explained things to them. Most of them inked the form with their thumbs and the election officer was understanding and courteous. I dont know why, but the sarpanch of the village was striding around the booth -  the election guys however, were courteous to him too, usually mumbling a word or two in reply  to his pleasantries. I suppose he was just  showing off.

Like me, the veiled women and the girl in the short sequinned skirt ahead of me pressed the beep on the EVM.  In that sense, in that one moment, all differences between us melted away.

I know this must be usual, but time and again when i see a demonstration of India's strange and immense contrasts, and the understanding that still remains, I am somehow moved."

From the same - NCR region - Ritu Sharma had posted an article -Rich Residents of Gurgaon too Busy to Vote? - a couple of days back:

"They are affluent, educated, well travelled and vocal about their rights. They want the best equipped gyms and swimming pools in their high-end condominiums. But many residents of this 'millennium city' won't be voting this Thursday.

Notwithstanding awareness campaigns, voting in urban Gurgaon is likely to be low with many staying away from the polling booth - some because it is a conscious decision not to, others because they don't have voter identity cards as they have moved recently or just haven't bothered to find out how to get it.

Gurgaon in Haryana is presented as the shining India, a symbol of urban success promising a better life for everyone behind the gateway of development. But away from the oasis of glittering malls and privately-developed housing complexes, basic infrastructure like power, water, roads and sanitation are lacking.

The affluent denizens of the gated townships of the city voice their grievances but have their own excuses for not casting their votes in the Lok Sabha elections on May 7....

....The figures tell the story. According to official records, only 6,947 voters have been added under the Gurgaon parliamentary constituency after a summary revision in the last five years. This is far less than the total number of people who move into the city each month. At present, the total number of voters registered with urbanised Gurgaon is 166,000, out of 1,230,949 voters in the constituency..."

Meanwhile, an article in Hindustan Times, informs:

"Dalits may be at the bottom of the country’s socio-economic order, but when it comes to fielding educated candidates in parliamentary elections, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party scores over the others.

The BSP has fielded more graduates and post-graduates than any other national party. Also, the share of graduates among BSP candidates has risen sharply from 38 per cent in 2004 to 50 per cent in this election, according to an analysis of data available for the first four phases of polling.

According to data compiled by National Election Watch... the BSP is slightly ahead of Congress in fielding more graduates and post-graduates... BSP has 264 graduates and post graduates in the fray, while Congress has 258.

Experts said the numbers reflect a trend wherein the first generation beneficiaries of affirmative action are now seeking a bigger say in the country's affairs.

"The rich among upper castes are turning apolitical and dalits are now seeking electoral power," said Arun Kumar, professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Mayawati was a teacher before she joined politics, and her party was built on financial and intellectual support of such Dalits who made it to government jobs and bureaucracy with the help of affirmative action...."

... as a certain survey across 172 countries shows that in terms of the voter-turnout (since 1945), India - the 2nd (or 1st??) largest democracy', ranks 105th (out of 172 countries).

Perhaps this mail floating on the net says much:

10 reasons why South Mumbai didn't come out to vote on April 30:

  • Clashed with Salsa class
  • Election whites were not drycleaned
  • No candidate was a hottie
  • Tony Jethmalani contesting from suburbs. Sigh!!
  • There was no valet parking at booth
  • I spotted servant in queue ahead of us
  • Driver did not come
  • But eElections over dude! aren't they?... Obama won!
  • No party is tackling real issues, eg, reduce Golds Gym rates.
  • There was no "home delivery!"

    In any case, India (or the rest of it) trudges on...

    Related posts:
  • One Single Vote!... that's India's Democracy is all about!
  • Yeh Mera India!!!
  • India... between "Masses" and "Classes"