Thursday, June 2, 2011

My vote is losing its sting

The beauty of a democracy is the power of the finger and ability of the mind to cast a vote in favour of what is deemed good. Protest movements in several Arab states have come about as a result of the absence of democratic practices and governance. The protests which have been helped by online mobilization have spread from one country to the other bringing fear to the minds of autocratic leaders from relative unknowns carrying their laptops through the country. The protests hit India in April in a different way with the Anna Hazare led movement against corruption in the country. Now Baba Ramdev is using the same mechanism in the name of bringing back illegally stashed away (black) money back to India. The difference in the protest movements is that India prides itself as a country which has a working democratic set up and a way for its citizens to show their displeasure with the political party in power. Are these two incidents stray happenings and do they mean nothing in the larger picture, has the media given undue importance to two individuals and the groups that support them, or has the citizen of India lost her/his most significant power of casting the all important vote in this jamboree of anti-corruption stake outs?

The various news channels are discussing whether a spiritual guru should indulge in politics, whether political parties are all corrupt and therefore not trust worthy, and whether Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev are representatives of the people of India? But this can be left to the channels and the panellists. What worries me rather is that the ordinary citizen of India has been robbed of her/his importance in the scheme of things in this country. The ordinary citizens of this country have been given the all important power to vote every five years and determine the course that the country and the various states have to take. Every election shows that the voter is knowledgeable, determined and will vote out anyone who takes them and this country for granted.

But what do we see now? Our voted representatives are hurrying to the airport to see spiritual gurus and political parties are pledging their support to anyone who comes forward with an anti-corruption formula. What on earth is their job then? With fatter pay cheques (courtesy themselves), wide ranging facilities, interns researching facts and a parliament building to debate the best course of action, all they can do is run from airport to airport. One should not be swayed by my argument here. I am not saying that the government should not listen to its people. But what is obvious is that the government is now listening to a few people who may not represent the diversity of this country, and the democratic process which is supposed to be running like a well oiled machine is now in limbo.

Why do I then need my state assembly representative and my member of parliament to talk for me if Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev are the ones who are calling the shots? Why did I have to go through the enormous exercise of voting and having my finger inked when those I voted for won’t represent me (us)? If we don’t trust our elected representatives, why are we wasting crores of rupees on this farce of an election? I do not wish to go deep into the intentions of Hazare and Ramdev but they are playing with the simple faith of the people of India just like other religious leaders. My vote is definitely losing its sting and I wonder what I can do about it.