Ugly side of Indian politics

Editor,

Perhaps nowhere else in the world, would you find politics turning into “mudslinging” 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 “projection.” 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.

Yours etc.,

Barnes Mawrie sdb,

Via email

Ethical Voting

Editor,

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 “cash for vote”  (Poll Officer warns against selling  votes , ST   21st Nov 2017).  It is certainly  perturbing that   the “cash for vote “  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 “cash for vote “practice 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’ 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.

Yours etc.,

 K.L.Tariang,

Via email