Ugly side of Indian politics
Perhaps nowhere else in the world, would you find politics turning into ‚Äúmudslinging‚ÄĚ as is prevalent in India today. Indian politicians even at the level of the Prime Minister, still indulge in ugly mudslinging. Personal attacks have become the stereotyped political strategy in our country. Many times vital issues are sidelined in favour of this archaic and inhuman political strategy. The leaders of the ruling BJP right from the PM to the least significant member of the party, all have recourse to the same approach. But the leaders of the opposition too fall into the same category. In fact, we often get bored or indignant watching television channels because what we hear are only foul speeches from these politicians. They tear at each other like ravenous wolves and do not seem to have enough of it. When will our politicians begin to discuss issues of development and progress in their public rallies and stop discussing persons? Perhaps they do not realize that when they talk ill of others, they only expose their own ugly selves. In psychology this is called ‚Äúprojection.‚ÄĚ Is it because many of our politicians come from poor backgrounds with poor education? I believe this has a lot to do with it. How can we expect a gentlemanly behaviour from a politician who is uneducated or who even has a criminal record?
It is high time that Indian politics take a turn for the better. It is time that the Election Commission enacts stringent measures with regard to eligibility of candidates. Is it not an insult to the nation to have a representative who is either a criminal or poorly educated, as our leader? We need to set a certain standard before the world community or else we become the laughing stock. Does our nation not deserve politicians who are well educated, well groomed and spotless in their character? We do have them but the problem is that our system is so vicious that such persons either refuse to soil their hands or are outspoken or outwitted by the goons. This is the reason why we need to revamp our system once and for all.
Barnes Mawrie sdb,
It is interesting to learn¬†¬†from a¬†¬†recent report in your newspaper¬†that the State Election Authority is identifying¬†¬†¬†prospective voters¬†¬†who¬†¬†were born in the millennium year¬†¬†2000¬†¬†and¬†¬†who¬†¬†for the¬†¬†first time¬†¬†¬†will participate in the¬†¬†electoral process starting with the 2018¬†¬†election in the state. As in the past,¬†¬†one is impressed with the¬†¬†innovation, creativity,¬†¬†ingenuity¬†¬†¬†and enthusiasm¬†¬†of¬†¬†the Election officials to¬†¬†enroll¬†¬†more¬†¬†eligible¬†voters. The visible¬†¬†result is the increased¬†¬†turnout in elections in recent years. This time, however , one is also¬†¬†impressed¬†¬†with the call of¬†¬†the State¬†¬†Chief Electoral¬†¬†¬†Officer¬†¬†(CEO)upon¬†¬†¬†the people¬†¬†of the state¬†¬†¬†to not sell their votes¬†¬†and¬†¬†for creating awareness on the Voter Verifiable¬†¬†¬†Paper Audit¬†¬†Trial ( VVPAT)through¬†¬†street plays which¬†¬†were¬†¬†held on a particular day¬†¬†across Khasi and Jaintia Hills Districts. Also there was a simultaneous effort to create¬†¬†¬†¬†awareness¬†¬†¬†on¬†¬†informed¬†¬†and¬†¬†ethical voting¬†¬†to dissuade people¬†¬†from¬†¬†¬†the¬†¬†¬†practice of ‚Äúcash for vote‚ÄĚ¬†¬†(Poll Officer¬†warns against selling¬†¬†votes , ST¬†¬†¬†21st¬†Nov 2017). ¬†It is certainly¬†¬†perturbing that¬†¬†¬†the ‚Äúcash for vote ‚Äú¬†¬†practice¬†¬†¬†¬†exists¬†¬†in the state and is well entrenched¬†¬†¬†¬†too¬†¬†¬†as the same news item¬†¬†¬†reported of¬†¬†elections in Meghalaya having¬†¬†a¬†¬†history of¬†¬†¬†money power being used¬†¬†during polls. Though all¬†¬†candidates or¬†¬†voters may¬†¬†not indulge in this practice¬†¬†but¬†¬†the general occurrence of¬†¬†such¬†¬†¬†dependency¬†¬†between¬†¬†participants from both ends¬†¬†¬†¬†will certainly have a negative impact on our collective future unless this practice is curtailed now. There are already¬†¬†manifestations¬†¬†of¬†¬†¬†unfavourable¬†¬†outcomes¬†¬†in recent years which could be¬†¬†attributed¬†¬†to this practice.¬† Therefore the call of the¬†¬†State CEO¬†¬†¬†¬†is timely and one ¬†hopes that the¬†¬†¬†¬†initiative of¬†¬†creating¬†¬†awareness¬†¬†to curb this practice¬†¬†¬†is not limited¬†to the election¬†season only¬†¬†¬†but¬†¬†¬†one that is consistent and spread across the nooks and corners of the State.
It would however¬†¬†be an onerous task¬†¬†for the¬†¬†election authority¬†¬†¬†¬†on its own¬†¬†¬†to¬†¬†sustain¬†¬†this widespread¬†¬†¬†¬†awareness campaign¬†¬†¬†and to reasonably¬†¬†¬†succeed¬†¬†¬†unless¬†¬†it¬†¬†¬†has the support¬†¬†of¬†¬†¬†well established¬†¬†¬†organizations¬†¬†with widespread appeal and which¬†¬†still enjoy the respect and confidence of the people. As¬†¬†of now it is unclear as to whether such organizations¬†¬†exist¬†¬†¬†in the state¬†¬†other than¬†¬†the religious¬†¬†institutions¬†¬†which¬†¬†may¬†hesitate¬†¬†to¬†¬†¬†venture into this activity¬†¬†as it is¬†¬†beyond their realm. At such a time,¬†¬†however,¬†¬†and without casting aspersions on any¬†¬†one,¬†¬†it might¬†help¬†¬†¬†if these¬†¬†religious institutions also¬†¬†¬†exhort their followers of the need to exercise their¬†¬†right to vote as a divine duty to be performed with honesty.
Community organizations like the Durbar Shnong¬†which are ubiquitous¬†in Khasi and Jaintia Hills¬†¬†Districts¬†¬†¬†and still have the following of the local communities¬†could take up the onus. Although there is a cynical¬†¬†¬†perception¬†about the credibility of¬†¬†¬†these organizations,¬†¬†they cannot¬†¬†all be painted with an unflattering brush. The identification¬†¬†and engagement of¬†¬†¬†a suitable few for¬†¬†the purpose can¬†¬†¬†be¬†¬†the starting point¬†¬†for replication elsewhere later. Moreover, most election¬†¬†advertisements¬†¬†which usually¬†¬†reinforce¬†the need for mandatory voting¬†¬†should also focus¬†¬†on ethical voting¬†¬†too while¬†¬†other¬†¬†approaches¬†¬†may be explored .
Undoubtedly, drawing¬†¬†people away from the ‚Äúcash for vote ‚Äúpractice is¬†¬†a challenging task¬†¬†but¬†¬†¬†¬†to make more¬†¬†people¬†¬†¬†informed¬†¬†and conscious¬†¬†of the principles of democracy¬†¬†is equally challenging¬†¬†¬†since¬†¬†conventional¬†¬†quality¬†¬†education¬†¬†might not have¬†¬†universal reach to cultivate the desired¬†attitude¬†¬†for this. As such, there¬†¬†could¬†¬†still be a¬†¬†narrow¬†¬†institutional¬†¬†¬†view¬†¬†¬†of many that democracy¬†¬†is just about elections¬†¬†and¬†not¬†¬†a driving force for change, or an instrument for¬†¬†improving¬†¬†the society¬†¬†and for removing¬†¬†social¬†¬†inequities¬†¬†and injustices. Hence¬†¬†¬†the prevalence of¬†¬†unexpected inadequacies¬†¬†even¬†¬†now,¬†¬†much¬†¬†to the disadvantage to the people!
Ultimately¬†¬†voting is¬†¬†essential but as of now¬†¬†¬†to make people vote well¬†¬†is a tall order¬†since¬†¬†cultivating the¬†¬†desired¬†¬†mindset for this is still¬†¬†a¬†remote possibility. Changing peoples‚Äô voting behaviour is an uphill task and calls for¬†greater innovative¬†creativity , ingenuity¬†¬†and determination¬†¬†of¬†¬†the election authority¬†¬†or¬†¬†any¬†¬†other authority assigned to bring about the transformation process. ¬†Informed and conscious citizens have a big¬†role to play too.