Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lucknow Votes!

Tomorrow Lucknow shall vote for the 15th time since this glorious country threw off the shackles of British imperialism. Hope and ecstasy permeated the air that rain swept morning of 15 August , 1947 even though the birth pangs of our country were very painful. The very phrase,”free India” had a sweet taste to it in all connotations.

Our motherland shall turn 62 this August. The hopes of Bhagat Singh, Subhash, Gandhi and Nehru have borne fruit, and to quote Nehru, “not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially”.

We are a presence in the world today…our scientists, armed forces, the intelligentsia, our farmers have done us proud. Gone are the days when we were an impoverished nation looking askance at the might of wealthy nations to feed our starving. Today the most powerful country in the world too feels proud after having inked a nuclear deal with us. Most of the top leaders of our country have served us well. But something still rankles inside…..

Have we really reached where we set out to be? We are a unique country in the world with multi ethnic multi religious multi cultural ethos. Somehow we have held together in our ups and downs. Our love for each other is commendable and the social fissures which are sown by political parties for their short sighted gains have not been able to shake our foundation of love and caring for each other…but how long?

Today the two major demons of peace and tranquility on this planet are very obvious….terrorism and recession. While we have enough goodwill and financial resources to tide out the second, the first evil threatens to swamp the entire humanity.

As potential voters, what do we look for in these parliamentary polls? To my mind, the parliamentary polls are an architect of bigger values of our country: our home administration, our foreign policy, our defence, our financial situation…the local issues should not have too much of say in this format…but then the mood of the people about local issues too are reflected in any poll which comes their way…we have to learn to run our democracy in a more matured manner.

When political parties lend serious political space to film or cricket stars, it seems that they are insulting the intellect of the population. What experience does the tinsel town or the cricket pitch have of harrowing living in the chawls and other bastisi in our cities? When these wave to the crowds and promise the moon and the stars, it just seems that they are making a mockery of our steeping poverty.

I know its very difficult to make a choice with the limited option we have in Lucknow. The candidate is well educated and has done some work for the city albeit with an eye on the impending elections happens to belong to such a party which is a one (wo)man show and erecting statues are the order of the day than sending poor children to schools or feeding the unfed.

Another party is represented by a beauty queen of yester years who seem to have a very weird take on computer education and English as a language.

The oldest surviving mammoth party could have selected a better person for the job to fight out the prestigious Lucknow seat. But it seems that this city no longer figures in the future plans of their high command.

Which leaves us with the candidate of the so called right wing party. A legislator for a long time, someone who has never really gone on to national politics.

Elect whomever you think the best…but you also have to make them work for you and hold them responsible should they fail in their duty as public representatives. And please do make it a point to have their mobile numbers and postal addresses as well as web addresses. Do tell them the problems you face. Democracy is a system of interaction. Please do not label any guy bad just because he happens to be a politician. In every sphere of life there are good, bad and the ugly. Do not hang your elected representative just because he happens to have ideology, which does not concur with your own. But you are entitled to a patient hearing and s/he has to get your job done. Else bombard him with paper work. The system does work…it does move, although slowly…

Please have faith in our democratic system and do not become a cynic. We have enough of them. They refuse to be a part of the solution. I, for one, have written quiet a few times to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and called up one or two state ministers. They do respond. Please also think about the tremendous responsibilities that they shoulder. So if you want to get your job done, be persistent and have faith in the system.

At the end, all of us are in this together. We have to make this system work. We are so fortunate that we are not born in some Godforsaken country where there is a despot army chief for a ruler or a religious zealot as the President. We have many shortfalls, but then doesn’t every relationship have them…still we don’t stop falling in love….