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.
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 “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.