By Vishal K:
Over the last few months, the indomitable spirit of Indian middle class to fight for good governance and socially just society has made me believe that we are standing at a point of inflection as far as Indian democracy is concerned. Strong media coverage and a burgeoning middle class empowered with social media tools have definitely made it impossible for any malpractice to go unnoticed. At the same time, it has also resulted in increased scrutiny and accountability on the part of civil servants and political leaders. Slowly but surely, we are experiencing a welcome change in a country which still has a strong aristocratic flavour in a democratic set up. A country where civil servants and politicians acquire demi-god status the day they assume office and a country where the citizens keep fighting all their lives for their basic rights in the labyrinthine corridors of bureaucratic red tape.
However, I believe that we still have to travel lot of distance before we achieve the desired transformation in Indian polity and governance. To put things in perspective, I would like to explore few idiosyncrasies of our current system. It is a very well-known fact in the political corridors of this country that middle class does not vote, thereby wielding insignificant impact on results of democratic elections. In early seventies and eighties, the size of middle class was not big enough to change the political equations. That is not the case now, with Indian economy growing at a rapid pace post liberalization, resulting in a scenario wherein one in every 5 families will soon be meeting the traditional “definition of Indian middle class”. This has made the situation very tricky for all the leading political parties in India. The biggest conundrum for the parties is to decide whether to fight the 2014 elections on “Development pitch” or the age old model of appeasing the rural population with goodies like subsidies and dividing the masses on secular grounds. Even the veteran politicians and political analyst are still not sure how the middle class is going to behave in 2014 and that has set the cat among the pigeons.
What exasperates me most is that while we have some really brilliant young politicians who are catering to this new “well informed aware middle class”, the real basis on which voting is done on the floor of parliament has still not changed much. I am not trying to lambaste our democratic system or toe the line “Iss desh ka kuch nai ho sakta”. What I believe is that there is a disconnect between the impact that we are seeking through the protests on the streets of Delhi and the actual impact it might be having.
In fact, I have immense faith in the democratic set up and youth of this country but we have to get out of the cocoon that we have built around ourselves. In this era of satellite television and social media portals, all the emotionally charged debates and the views needs to be channelized in to something fruitful. As much as I respect Mr Kejriwal, I believe there is no need to start boiling the ocean whenever you want to make any contribution to Indian society. We need to put aside the utopian targets like “Corruption free society” in 6 months and many such lofty goals. One protest march or a change in government is not going to solve this age old problem but what we can still do is to start small and see how we can do good for people around us. As William J Clinton correctly said- “Every 21st century professional must strive to do some public good within his realms of private life”. You are young and smart. Set smaller goals. Target 300 lives that you are going to have an impact on. You will feel better when you achieve these goals. You will get the energy and motivation to strive for a bigger goal next time around.
Last but not the least, please vote in 2014. Stop using your voter ID card only as residence proof for telephone connections and acquiring that fancy credit card. If you don’t stay in the city where you have voting right, this is the time to begin the process of getting your voter identity card transferred to your current location. I am sure the front end bankers, consultants, marketing professional and the blue eyed boys of IIT’s/IIM’s form a “busy” cohort but even the privileged people like them owe this much to this country. If all of us make the required effort and vote in 2014, I am sure the political class will get the message that we, “the mango people”, are going to make them accountable every five years. We have definitely managed to cause few tremors with the strong protests over the last few years and the political class is watching us with bated breath but the question for them remains —“Will the middle class and youth of India vote in 2014?” Either ways (A yes or A No), I am sure this will go a long way in deciding the contours of Indian political system and the way next government will rule this country.