Mar 5, 2013

Is your vote worth anything ?


Ayodhya, Godhra, Bofors, moral culture, Telengana, free televisions and fans, criminal cases, Marathi manoos, Cauvery, golden elephant statues, golden lady-with-handbag statues, 2G, Commonwealth.
Nirbhaya. Gandhi. Rahul. Modi. A billion votes. 

With elections around the corner, these words will once again invade your lives. You have to do your duty and vote. Your vote will lead India towards the glorious future that beckons it. Only I won't be there with you when the queues start to form next year. 

You see, I won't be voting. 
If I don't vote, I don't have a right to complain, isn't it? Okay. I accept.
But then, are you ready to accept responsibility for all that we suffered the last few years? Why do you assume you are free of guilt when it was your vote that allowed rapists, murderers and communal fanatics to enter Parliament and behave like roadside hooligans at the cost of taxpayers like you and me?

What did you actually know about the person you voted for last time? Was he honest or just powerful? Was he allowed to make a decision for his constituency or was he just another slave to dynasty or non-political outfits? When his fellow partymen were being caught in acts of violence, money laundering or just plain stupidity, did your elected politician make you proud by standing up against them and denouncing them ?

If you didn't know his abilities or didn't even expect him to stand for what was right, then what were you voting for... the lesser evil? Are we so vile and incompetent that we can't find seven hundred honest men in a population of over a billion? One honest, decent Indian in roughly 17 lakh individuals. That was too much to ask for? 

This coming elections, don't vote for a lesser evil. The country deserves better than that.
My discussion on whether your vote has any value is available here at the Facebook page of Nav-Bharat, an initiative to being in transparent democracy with accountable leadership. Controversial? Perhaps. But then, I stand by every word I say. 

The question is : What do you have to say on the matter? And what are you going to do about it?


31 comments:

  1. Hey Roshan. The article is really worth its words. But my question is this. Is all this really practical? The 790 honest men that we are searching for can never come up to govern us, coz then they will not be able to "play the game" of politics.
    What then is the mango persons choice? Choose the lesser of the evils, or go for someone who has done him n his society at least a semblance of service.
    There is a saying in hindi: Kachhra agar saaf karna hai toh khud keechad mein uttarna padega. Lekin dhyan rahe babu, apni dhoti khud bedaag nahi bachhta.
    Hope you get my point.
    One more thing. Deciding not to vote is one more option. But is that the right option? Tomorrow, when something goes awry in the system (chances are it will) then do we have a say in the proceedings?
    Im sure a good majority of the people who are there in parliament had a genuine sense of serving the country at some point of time or the other. But politics is such that even a Manmohan Singh can become a silent spectator (or a "Mr. clean" A.K. Anthony has to wash his linen in the public)

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    1. How has choosing the lesser evil helped this country ? That was what was done this last decade.. look at how far we fell. The politicians are not even remotely ashamed of being caught red-handed... Parliament never runs... noone even questions how all the ministers are instant crorepatis with factories and millions worth in estates. Once upon a time, we arrested the leader of a political party for a bribe of 1 lakh. Today, 500 million Indian rupees via insider trading and all the news channels are warned not to mention it.

      Regarding not having a voice because we dont vote, I spoke of it in the article... I'll gladly keep quiet. But will the people who did vote accept guilt for the incompetence which led to the rape of Nirbhaya ? The terror attacks ? The communal riots ? The indecision on anything remotely significant to the nation... if you're not given any choice to choose (and I clearly state that choosing the lesser evil has been proven to be no choice at all), then what did you vote for ?
      The right people are there. We havent sunk that far that we cant find 700 odd Indians. But they need to stand up and not say "only two parties have any chance of winning". We need to openly deny any criminal the right to contest elections while he has cases (especially murder, inciting riots and rape, for crying out loud).

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    2. Regarding not having a voice because we don't vote, May I ask you when was the voice of the Millions who voted heard? I don't want to vote and earn the right to say; If I vote, I want to earn the right to be Heard.
      And when you say " you didn't vote, so you can't say anything", isn't it also said that " you only voted him, made him the minister. Now he is caught taking bribes, what right do you have to blame him, didn't you knew he was corrupt when you voted him ?" Should my answer to that be " Oh, I didn't have an option, it was either the corrupt or the rapist, so I chose the corrupt".
      Seena

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    3. Thats where change has to come. Politicians have to be made accountable.. the Ponty Chaddas and Raja Bhaiyaas of various states will soon stand up demanding their share.. political parties will trample each other in the rush to get them and the influence they bring. But what happens to us? Till you vote him in, he is nothing. After that, well... you are nothing to him. If you feel a candidate has potential to bring change or actually work for a better tomorrow, then vote for him.
      Not for the fun of saying I did my civic duty.

      The fact is that It hasnt always been this bad... our country was never so overrun with corruption and thugs at the helm than in recent times. That has to change.

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  2. You are right..

    Did you get a chance to check the website www.ezedcal.com/ta to manage editorial calendar easily for your blog and show your editorial calendar in your blog easily (optional)
    Thanks & Regards
    Bensie Dorien.

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  3. Im not saying you are wrong, Roshan. But the 700 odd "honest" Indians we are looking at would have to be plucked from the grassroot levels. What Im saying is by the time these grassroot social workers reach the top level they too end up imbibing in them a certain level of dishonesty thanks to the politics they come across.
    Im not for/against any politician or party. But Im giving a more practical view to the situation we have at hand. For the few honest people we have in that sacred institution that is the parliament, we have dons like Rajaa Bhaiyaa who flex their muscles to reach the top level ala 80s bollywood movies or a Vitthal Radadiya who aggressively brandishes rifles in public booths.
    Lets rewind back 60 years to the time of Independence. The people who brought the constitution into force, were high on morals. But what happened as time passed? Slowly we sunk into the situation we are in currently. The only way to rebuild it is by changing things gradually. Its impossible to bring 700 honest representatives into power.
    That is why I was saying for a start, we might as well bring up the lesser evils for a semblance of governance, instead of deciding not to vote & have no say in the government we elect.

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    1. no doubt we will never get 700 people of virtue into the Parliament ever.. but how many can you logically get in one election ? More importantly, how many crooks can you kick out ?

      I was just reading Raja Bhaiya's bio and am attaching it here :
      http://www.ndtv.com/article/cheat-sheet/who-is-raja-bhaiya-338002?fb

      What kind of a voting mentality is it that allows ppl to vote such a guy... forget the routine list, this is a person who was arrested under POTA and was released after govts changed. Yet, without any problem, he gets portfolios and ministries.

      Now, for example, if I were given the choice between him and another one just like him, what is the lesser evil ? How am we quantifying it - the person less likely to kill my caste when riots ensure ? the person who i can approach and bribe to get work done ? How do you expect a nation to survive on such choices... simply voting and showing the ink on the finger isnt anything great.. there should be a viable candidate to vote for.

      To say vote for the lesser evil, we've already done that since Godhra. What we got are scandals with price tags which are unheard of in Indian history and not a single person held accountable.

      The fact which noone is willing to admit is : irrespective of whether you vote or not, you have no say in what happens next.
      You cannot even choose to say that I dont want a Raja Bhaiyaa ruling over me.. till the vote is given, they need you and cajole you. After that.. well, the less said the better.

      Definitely vote. But not unless the candidate is worthy. Once other states see how successful jungle-raj is in places like UP and Bihar, it will only be a matter of time before they implement it in their own states.

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    2. Yes, it is impractical to get 700 honest persons in the parliament, at least in the near future. But if people decide to not vote for lesser evil, people in large numbers stop voting, when polling percentage dips to lowest ever, wouldn't it give a strong message to those now in parliament,that Mango people are no longer donkeys.
      Seena

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    3. Just look the scenario we are in.. Both the major political parties are still scared to reveal even their PM candidate a year before elections, not for want of options, but because of a fear of backlash. This is the kind of uncertainty that needs to change.

      Everyone made a huge hue and cry when Anna Hazare first appeared... he scared the bollocks off the major parties... now they've settled down again, content that he cant harm them, scandals or not.
      Thats where we fail... by not doing anything to show we are angry. Nirbhaya was just another random rape-victim. There have been literally thousands more like her in the last 3 months. What shook the system and forced action from the government was not sorrow or pain... it was public anger at them and their incompetence.

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    4. I totally agree with your views on Raja Bhaiyaa. Which is why Im stressing on this point that we need to vote the lesser of the evil to make sure that convicts like Raja Bhaiyaa, Suresh Kalmadi, A. Raja, Vitthal Radadiya, Om Prakash Chautala etc. dont make it to the top level because once they reach that level they will have the audacity to do whatever they wish & there is no stopping them. And b.t.w, unfortunately this jungle raaj is not limited to U.P & Bihar. Other states (BIMARU states included) are also equally involved in this. (In fact after the ouster of Lalu Prasad, Im not sure if Bihar is still a part of this. I have heard great things about Nitish Kumars governance) Which leads me to defend the lesser evil formula. Bihar is a classic case where the state has improved leaps & bounds only by choosing the lesser of the two evils. Corruption has not been rooted out, but atleast there is more accountability now in spite of the Babudom.
      Im not for any one party, state or central. But we should definitely research & make sure our votes count. Again I would reiterate that its better to vote for a lesser evil rather abstain from voting & have no say at all on the elected representatives, when tomorrow there is a discussion on the right or wrongdoings of the cabinet & we defend or attack their decisions.

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    5. that one word you mention could make the difference - ACCOUNTABILITY. Not just farcically saying 'let CBI probe me. I am innocent' but actual accountability. If caught in a crime, resign, go through the same legal process as you and I would have to go through and face the law. Last year, so many were openly caught in crimes...yet they coolly escaped.
      In todays news, ex congress MP Vittal radadiya who last year was called a mobster and goonda after he brandished a gun at a toll booth coolly resigned because Congress didnt give him the post he wanted. Thats not the issue. The issue is what happened next. No less than PM candidate Modi takes him into the Gujarat BJP as he brings in lots of caste votes. The same people who demanded his ouster when the news flashed last year take him in when he's kicked out. No talk of the case of threatening a govt employee with a gun ( even with clear CCTV evidence showing no provocation).

      This is where the system fails. Because people like this are being wooed by major parties when they should be behind bars.
      See the actual post I had written in Facebook.. the theme at the end is not to give up voting. It is to be aware of what and who you are voting for. To ask the right questions for once instead of just choosing hand or lotus for old times sake.

      A more scary thought arose while reading your comment : What if these people ( Raja Bhaiyya, Kalmadi, Raja, Radadiya ) are the lesser evil ? What then ?

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  4. Great article on the nav Bharat...asks the list of questions you ask make sense...no one really knows the people they vote for..

    But staying out of voting...will it make a difference?

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    1. the point of the article isn't to boycott voting per se... its to justify the vote you give. Don't give it blindly because you feel a rapist better than a murderer in your locality. Find out the credentials of the candidate, know what he represents and then make a choice.
      But if none of the candidates or their parties strike you as genuine candidates, there is no point in blindly voting.

      A likely parallel maybe this : just deciding which doctor to go to doesnt cure you of your ills. the doctor should be capable of performing too, isn't it ? just because he's rich or has a dozen bungalows doesnt make him the right choice to cure us, does it ?

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  5. Anonymous6.3.13

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  6. You have made valid points, Roshan. But are there candidates going to drop from heaven? By backing out of the voting process, we cease to matter for the political parties. Good for them don't you think. Have you heard of the right to reject all candidates? Maybe that is worth giving a try.

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    1. I am totally for using the 'Right to reject' option yet noone does it in reality, do they ?
      I'm not asking you to back out entirely... but more thought has to go into what the person you're voting for really stands for. All these people we are seeing with scandals and murder charges today... we elected them. How did we fall so far that we decided that a rapist and murderer is better to lead us than a robber and dacoit ?

      Efforts like RK Misra's initiative are a step forward... they do the thing we cant do : Find candidates not based on bank balance but based on values. They atleast offer an option of transparency... to know your candidate. If people knew what a candidates educational ( and more importanatly criminal background ) were, hopefully they wouldnt be so eager to blindly choose.

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    2. Roshan, we don't choose blindly. We just don't have a choice. Trust me I vote for every Assembly, local and National election, and I do read up about the candidate and what the party is offering. You can't begun to imagine how bad the state in Bangalore is. Cong, JD(S) and BJP, each is worse than the other. There is much more awareness about these issues these days. But the good candidates are not there sadly. Next year, I am going to actively find out about "Right to reject" at the polling booth. But to improve the system, we have to do it by staying in the system and fighting it. And, if we have the guts, we must think of joining politics to reform it. I share your angst but not voting is just not the answer. Who votes why is a topic of interest though.

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    3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/49-O
      This is regarding the 'right to reject' candidates.. as expected, the changes required to make it effective is still pending.

      I agree wholeheartedly with fighting the system, but the method people choose is beyond me. Irrespective of how people sugarcoat it, it comes down to 'not believing in the candidates ability, but rather just hoping he's less evil than the next guy'. It isn't just Bangalore.. we all suffer the same. My choices are riot inciter, criminal, criminal, riot inciter. How am I fighting the system by choosing any of these is beyond me ?
      The process of rejecting a candidate by the public should not be done at the time of elections.. that is of no consequence to the party as 49-0 is toothless. The public's opinion on the candidate being fielded should be voiced out before the election begins so even the party realises that they need to field a better option if they wish to win that constituency.

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    4. I choose not to vote because I frankly dont support the options I have AFTER knowing them. But if you see the article, I am not dissuading others or asking them to follow me.. I'm asking you all to actually find out about the people you are going to vote for, the party they represent and their ideals.
      Presently, we spend more time in thought while waiting in a queue at KFC pondering our choice than what good our politician can do for our state, if not country.

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    5. You are right Roshan! But this issue is much more complex than you and I think it is.

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    6. oh no doubt about it.. I am definitely clueless about so many more intricacies involved in this, no doubt.
      I just feel that India is ripe for change... once upon a time, a country led by anything other than THE PALM symbol was unthinkable.. after the Emergency, ppl were so pissed that they changed history for the first time.
      Today ppl are still pissed... but they're just conditioned into believing noone else can win. That attitude needs to change..

      I had written this last year ( http://www.nav-bharat.org/blog/glad-to-be-living-in-a-country-of-my-dreams ) with that same belief. It's ok to lose. But the effort must begin.

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  7. I agree with you. . But you can choose to vote for a better candidate, I can choose to vote for a better candidate but the majority votes for the candidate from his caste or community. People, the vast population of India vote for a lesser evil, vote for a candidate from a major party thinking he or she can do better things for the constituency.
    The whole religion and caste based politics occurs because there is still a large section of the society which thinks on that line. . The so called leaders does nothing but to use that gap, widen it so that he gets elected the next time.
    The people of the country has to come out of that shell. Then they will vote for a better person.

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    1. thats the whole problem... when Lallu went to jail, all he had to do was make his wife the Chief Minister.. noone said a word. Shibu Soren convicted for murder.. next elections a minister. Raju Bhaiyya arrested under POTA.. back in ministry again. The open bribing and 'Operation Lotus' in Karnataka. All this is what people are calling 'lesser evil'. When will they learn that they have the power to stop it.

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  8. Anonymous8.3.13

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  9. Your post made me think. It also makes me wonder whether the common man can actually achieve anything by fighting the system, when the odds are stacked against us. Every second person you read about in the newspaper is accused of some scam :(

    All this just makes me sad and angry...

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    1. thats what saddens me... when people say they are fighting the system by voting 'the lesser evil' and you show me rapists, criminals, convicted murderers in Parliament. This was the ones you chose because you felt honest people cant win ?

      What kind of a victory is this ?

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  10. Please,dont underestimate the voter.Do you really think they go and vote bindly?
    I am not in agreement with you

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    1. Sir, I would gladly love to be proven wrong but the proof is undeniable.
      Karnataka - caste based/money oriented ( Operation Lotus )
      Andhra/Tamil Nadu - dynasty oriented
      UP/Bihar - caste oriented
      Maharashtra - doesnt matter. Whoever comes bows before the mighty tigers.
      Choose a state...
      How many of the middle and lower class can claim to know what their voting party stands for in major issues of development ( and by that, I mean anything except Ram Jhanmabhoomis, Ram Sethus or Sonia appeasement ? ) What is their party stand on improving healthcare ? On education ? On dealing with the corrupt within their party ?

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    2. http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/vitthal-radadiya-the-mp-who-brandished-gun-at-toll-booth-joins-narendra-modi-s-bjp-339998?pfrom=home-otherstories

      this is what is wrong with the system.. After calling him a goon and a gangster ( which he rightly is, as shown by CCTV footage ), the moment he says he will support them, no less than the next PM candidate welcomes him with open arms. Why ? because he brings with him caste votes...

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  11. Roshan, to an extent your point is valid. I have this feeling that if we didn't vote, we don't have a right to complain and demand from our politicians. But then, is there any point in demanding and complaining?

    I will still vote, maybe for the lesser evil. And then there's always hope..

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    1. Adel raised an interesting point above with the comment on how the lesser evil was of benefit to Bihar ( post-Laalu ). What saddens me is that it didnt work out the same way everywhere..

      There are options for those who seek a corruption free candidate. Its just a matter of being aware of them and actually voting for them rather than sticking to old norms. Change is possible. But we should want it enough.

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So what do you think ?