All’s Well That Begins Well

India’s hunt for a new government has been a topic of much discussion. Websites, NGOs, filmstars have thrown themselves into the effort of getting the voters out to vote. They weren’t majorly successful in getting the voters to ink their middle finger, but those who voted, voted well.

After eons, we see a thumping majority and a singular party has been elected to run the show. The PM is a man with a strong resume and immense intelligence. He won’t be forced to take on criminals and under qualified individuals in his cabinet and now. There’s hope.

The voter turnout might have depressed me, but the results have made me believe that the Indian voter has thought well before pressing the button. 

It is the first time that I voted and I am urging every single one of you to go through hell if you must, but register to vote. Don’t give up. Fight for your right to vote, because every vote matters and every vote makes a difference. Look at Thiruvananthapuram. If I’m not wrong almost 65% people came out to vote and they elected a man who is educated, hard working, sensible and most importantly a man who understands India’s issues in the global perspective. Shashi Tharoor can make a difference and I believe in having more leaders like him. I am happy, and I am proud. We chose well and we chose wisely.

All the best to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. And to the opposition. Make the best of that seat, make the issues heard and learn your lesson. Hard work and hard work alone will get you elected. Run for the right reasons, and run for the secular democracy that we are. Jai Hind!


Of Rights & Duties & Being Indian

Well what I choose to write about today is something we have all written, read, discussed and felt angst about. I am not shocked about the shameful 42% voter turnout. I am not surprised. But yes, I am angry. I am disappointed that a city that poured out into the roads to light candles in protest of the horrific 26/11 attacks, refuse to show up at their polling booths to cast a vote.
To vote is our right and to vote is also our duty. Until when are we going to go on blaming the leaders, politicians and others when we fail to get out and stand in a queue to press a button?

I agree, the right to vote is given to you after a fierce struggle because of the adamant ERO people who refuse to take their job seriously (well, most of them). We admire campaigns like Jaago Re and praise websites like Mumbai Votes. We generate independent, dependable, well educated candidates like Meera Sanyal and yet decide not to vote? How can you think it’s a holiday? It’s a day you are supposed to forget that you’re a banker, doctor, engineer or a writer and think of yourself as an Indian.

I ADMIT. The year I turned 18 I was complacent. I did not bother to register but I felt shame, I felt regret when I did not vote for the state elections back then. I struggled, fought and boiled my blood to get my name on that list. And when I stood within the limits of the cardboard box, thinking about the research and thinking I put in, and pressed the blue button, I felt a high. I felt proud. I felt like I had finally gotten my lazy ass off the couch and decided to do something. It’s not enough but it’s the first step. When are you all getting out there and taking that step?

We The People Of India

I wrote this post out for a website, however, it couldn’t be published there in time. Just wanted to share it…

I owe this post to Jerry Pinto, a well known journalist, poet and a writer. As a professor whose aim was to introduce us to journalism, he asked us to read a couple of books, one of which was the Constitution of India. “You are living in the country, na? You should find out what the country is all about otherwise each one of you pay me Rs.17.56 paisa! Most of your education comes from the taxes I pay and if you don’t know this much also na, my money went to waste, I want it back. Ok?”

That’s when it dawned on me. We take pride in being Indian, we get a lump in our throats when we hear our National anthem and we take pride in slamming the politicians for totally screwing the system up, but how many of us bother to find out what being an Indian legally means, what are the fundamental factors that built India. How many of us have ever read the Constitution leave alone possess it?

As we approach the 2009 elections, various groups are being proactive in urging citizens of India to vote. The tedious process of registration is being simplified and a lot of questions are being thrown at the political parties hoping to get power.

Most important of all though, is self-introspection. It is important to understand your own civil duties and rights before you choose the leaders of the nation. It is your duty to find out what we stand for. It’s easy for us to blame the government and ministers for debacles but we as a society are to be blamed.

Here is what our Preamble says. Read it and ask yourselves, is this what my country stands for, am I, as a citizen of India ensuring that these words do not remain just words:

“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a _1[SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the _2[unity and integrity of the Nation];


While there’s poverty, while there’s corruption and while there exists communalism how can these words ever be held true?

So as we ready ourselves to vote and exercise our right, let’s take it upon ourselves to make sure that the preamble stands for more than just words. Lets fight for a better tomorrow, for you, me and the generations to come. And that’s where I recommend you watch this ad campaign featuring Aamir Khan.

So lets make sure that each one of us uses our vote sensibly and sensitively. Jai Hind!

Jaago Re Aur Kuch Karo Re!

Yes, I am a procrastinator and I was convinced I am my country’s worst citizen. reminded me time and again and yet, I would say ‘next weekend!’

Finally, I managed to get my documents together, ensured I had true copies, photos and set off to the ERO situated at the address mentioned on to ensure that my name gets added to the voters’ list. I blessed Raj, who had made things so damn easy for jokers like me. Thank God for Raj, lazy bums like me could easily get their right to vote or so I thought.

Of course, as soon as I reached the address I was told the office had moved. So, I went in search of the municipal school where the office was now situated.
‘Documents are all okay, but you don’t have Form 1A.’
‘Jaago Re says its not compulsory,’
‘No No, here fill out and come back after 1st February.’

So yeah, though the website said 23rd Jan was the date, the guy refused to take my form. I had no choice. I made another trip yesterday.
‘Why passport? Ration card is needed,’ he looked at my documents with disdain.
‘Passport is the most relevant document for age, address and identity proof. I am sure this will be accepted,’
‘I don’t think so. Why is your father’s voter id here? Its too old. Finding the number will take too much time, find someone nearby whose id was issued recently.’
‘Nobody in my building has a new one!’
‘Go and find, don’t say no without checking.’

And then I lost it. I started arguing that it was his job to find the number not mine. Finally I was redirected to a lady who sweetly told me that the passport was okay but the form won’t be accepted until 1st week of March.
‘Will my name appear in the list though?’
‘It will after the revision,’
‘Will the revision happen before election?’
‘I think so!’

I walked out with my documents. Angry.

This is my country that prides on being the largest democracy. However, the basic right to vote is a pain to get. I blame myself. I should have done this ages ago. I should have known all the facts and been able to fight it out.

But fight with who? The man who sweetly speaks to the guy who came through the Corporator and guides him with utmost courtesy but is extremely rude to a senior citizen who wants to rectify his erroneous name in the list. Or should I fight with the man who refuses to look up a number even though it is his job to do so? Or should I fight with a system where the minimum qualification for being a leader is a couple of criminal records and a few trips to the jail? Or should I fight people like me who do not find out how the system works or why it works the way it does?

And then I get daunted. I get bogged down.

Our country probably deserves this political apathy. Somebody pointed out to me a few weeks back that this is because we lack the fiery, passionate love for our country. We forget that loving the country goes beyond singing patriotic songs. We have brought on this apathy on ourselves because we refuse to change. We refuse to question and we refuse to fight back even if the battle is immensely long!

BIG thank you to Jaago Re. At least our eyes have opened. Now, lets get up and do something!

PS: My overanalytical mind thinks that these guys are hostile to guys who come through Jaago Re probably on instruction from politicians. Afterall, the parties benefit from low turnouts on voting day and the guys at the ERO have lesser work to do.