Tuesday, March 31, 2009

General Elections in India 2009

The Indian Parliament
The general elections fever is catching up everywhere in India. All the print and visual media have focused its equipments on the candidates and their details. Every day we hear interesting stories of fundamentalist speeches, greed, lies and shamelessness of some of these candidates.

All unholy alliances seem to happen around. In spite of the proclaimed fight on religious fundamentalism, all major political parties select the candidates based on the religion, caste and money power. Apparently, the goons, thieves and anti social elements are enjoying a field day. Every party needs them; they have many axes to grind and many weapons to hide. Some of the candidates and even political parties conveniently forget that” he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon.”

Thanks to T.N.Seshan, the redoubtable former election commissioner of India, the candidates strive hard to declare their assets. Many candidates are multi millionaires apparently spending all their lives in politics. Some declare that they have just a few pennies left and possess only few grams of gold even though the people know that they are not as innocent and starved as they claim to be. Apparently, it appears that the right for freedom of speech rests only with the politicians. Recently the Kerala High court denied bail, rightfully so, to the assailants who tried to kill a rationally thinking religious leader. His crime was that he declared;” God does not have any religion”.

Seshan had famously said once; “We seem to have Titans only in watches not in politics anymore”. He could not have been more precise.

We do not find many politicians really helping the poor and the needy. Instead of going to the party office everyday to fight over mundane subjects, why don’t they spare some time to go to hospitals to help the sick or initiate cleaning those premises? Instead of taking to the roads every time for processions on silly matters, why not they clean the premises of the local bus stand and help repairing the roads? Instead of straining their vocal chords on platforms accusing each other why don’t the leaders take concerted efforts to fight the social inequalities? They have many prime issues to be attended like education to all, food, shelter and medical facilities. They forget that the father of the nation was walking through the villages of Navkhali on the night of the Independence Day applying balms in the communally disturbed areas.

Of India’s population of 1160 million, more than 800 million earn less than 20 Rupees a day and 300 million are below the poverty line. But the lawmakers for the country are rich; half the members of the upper house and one third members of the lower house of parliament possess assets worth over 10 million rupees. Some of them are fabulously rich by any standard.

We need to tackle many issues in India like human-trafficking, drug abuses, health care, environmental issues and juvenile delinquencies if we are to progress towards a respected democracy.

The law makers are to be people who care for the poor and the down trodden. They need to be educated people known for integrity, efficiency and commitment. While they need not be Gandhians or of any particular political party, they could certainly serve the country well by imbibing the spirit of the Mahatma. I dare say that even those good Marxists could absorb a lot from the lessons of Gandhi in these trying times.

Let our enlightened citizens elect their representatives most judiciously so that the dreams of the founding fathers of our constitution are truly fulfilled.
Dubai, 31st March 2009.