Sunday 6 April 2014

Dilemma of the Undecided Indian


This election, I will not be voting for the UPA, considering the ten years of misrule they have heaped upon us.

But then I will not vote for the NDA either even though the record of the last NDA government was much much better than any Congress government in my living memory. But I dont care much for the leadership they are seeking to foist on us.

That leaves the AAP which does not have a hope in hell of making a difference to government formation by any stretch of my imagination.

I do not plan to hide behind the NOTA option as that defeats the purpose of elections.

But I will vote.

My candidate will not win, in much the same way no candidate I have voted for has ever won. Thats not okay with me, but I do not really have a choice, caught as I am between a bad choice and a worse choice.

Dont ask me who the bad choice is or the worse choice is, but let me tell you that having been a keen follower of Indian politics, the BJP and the Congress are two sides of the same coin. We need a new coin. To those of you who condemn the Congress for its corruption I say, the BJP is no better.

Until we have campaign finance reform, we cannot expect honesty from those that rule us. Which is why in this day and age, definitions have changed. The honest politician is one who does not make money for himself but for the party. The dishonest chap keeps it for himself and gives some to the party.

The total amount of money that will be spent in this elections by all the parties put together will be nothing less than Rs 20,000 crore. In places like Andhra, the spend by a single candidate in a constituency could be as high as Rs 40 crore. In places like Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal where parties will be frugal, the spend by a candidate in a constituency will not be south of Rs 1 crore, if one were to add up all the costs.  There are 542 constituencies going to the polls and in each of them, there will be atleast 3 serious candidates spending oodles of money to buy votes. The cost of getting a vote today is north of Rs 1000 in cash transfers, not to mention the marketing spend. The cash transfer amount has gone up this time around, my sources tell me. So go on do your math.

This kind of money cannot be raised without looting the exchequer in the current framework. And if a candidate spends this kind of money given to him by his friends, do you think the friends wont want a piece of the action? Whether you vote for the BJP or the Congress, the story will be the same.

The paradigm has to change, the frame work has to be altered. It can be done, but it will take time. It has to be done bit by bit, one step at a time. Things can change, if you want it to change, if I want it to change.

This may sound blasphemous to you but there will always be corruption in high places that you and I can do precious little about. I honestly believe that if we can get our government to deliver the little things, the stuff I will lump together under what I will call civic services, 99% of us will have less reason to complain. If the roads get built, if we get 24x7 water and electricity, if the schools are staffed and have children going to school, if the primary health centres have adequate medicines, if the roads are clean and of better quality and so on.

In our world where corruption has become democratized, the MP who we are going to vote for depends on the MLA to bring in the vote and has to therefore let the MLA conduct an organised loot in his area. The MLA on his part depends on the nagar sevak or the corporator to rustle up the vote and therefore lets this chap have a free run in his area. This works like a well oiled machine.

There are two approaches you can take to deal with garbage in a city. You can set up a sewage treatment plant where the water flows into the sea, or you can ensure that the garbage generated in each household is separated before it is picked up for disposal. The latter approach works best and that is what we need to do to clean up our society.

To choke off the corruption at the corporator level is much easier than to deal with the MP's shenanigans. But if you choke off the corporators loot flow, the MLA too will be affected and by extension the MP. Charity begins at home, they say and so does the clean up. Politics will suddenly not be a lucrative proposition and the looters will have to find other means of livelihood.

Which is why, we have launched the myMP initiative. Do see whats in there, what the data says about the quality of social services in your area. Do share with me your view on how we can make this more action oriented and how we can use all this data to empower people in a manner that equips them adequately to make their elected reps accountable. Heres the site URL:

Because if you do so, you can make your vote count. May be not this time, but certainly the next time. That is my game plan. I hope i wont be o undecided the next time I go out to vote.

Jai Hind.

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