Sanjay Dutt has been roped in by the Samajwadi party, Azharrudin is busy being wooed by the Congress. I guess these days you need only a jail term and/or a corruption charge against you to contest in elections in India. Sanjay Dutt and Manyata Dutt have suddenly become the moral compass by which all “Bharatiya Nari and Naran” have to live by. They claim to be the true Dutt’s….tut…tut!! The election commission in India has been trying unsuccessfully for the past many years to pass laws that demand people who wish to contest in elections not be found guiltyof any criminal conspiracy and not be involved in a crime, a crime here defined according to the supreme court laws which covers marital assault, corruption, rape, bribery and such. The election commission under T.N Seshan also wanted to pass a law that required all ministers and government officials obtain a minimum pass in basic history and civics in India. That didn’t go very far. It was overwhelmingly voted down in the Parliament. The last known public polling statistics from 1996 shows the majority of the people who vote are poor, illiterate and are primarily from the rural regions of the country. They do not receive any of the promised goods or lands, but they vote with the hope that they can in some way influence the system using caste, religion, money, whatever it takes for their candidate to win. The middle class and the elites of society barely step outside or don’t care in most cases to vote. The unfortunate part of this equation is that the middle class and the elites are the ones who have knowledge, who are acutely aware of what is required and what is not, of where they are being fleeced and where they are not, of what they are getting and what they are not and yet the apathy with which they treat the system is appalling. Yes, they have a reason to, yes the politics in India has not given anyone any reason to hope and look for change and yet we keep forgetting that by caring even a little bit we can change the system, if not now at least we can leave a promising system for our kids.
I realized when I kept hearing more and more of President Obama’s speech how cynical a society we have become and how individualistic a nation we have become. The picture of our society when painted shows individuals who would rather turn away because what worries them lies within their threshold or point back at how other countries have their faults too. There are however, large glimmers of hope. The amount of people involved in public service is evident in the number of blogs and bloggers who highlight such issues, the number of people who question the system and who vow to do something about it is an indication that there is an “argumentative Indian ” who cares about the secular democracy that he/she is a representative of. our first step has to stop people like Dutt and Azharuddin from winning, our second has to be to change the system which elects such people or even thinks of electing people whose knowledge of Gandhi and Nehru are from movies like Munnabhai or whose knowledge of Civics and Constitution are from misguided elements like Amar Singh. Our cynicism should not be towards words like hope, change, society, volunteers or such. Our cynicism needs to be directed towards people who promise free rice and electricity to every village and elect an illiterate woman who is subservient to her husband because of some misguided concept of an Indian woman. Let’s change our way of thinking, our way of voting and most of all the way we choose to live in a democratic India.