The billionth voter

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan

Disclaimer : I’m probably gonna be unpopular after this post but... well, aren’t blogs a forum for discussion too ?

Just a question before we start – how’d you feel if you saw Laloo Prasad Yadav’s kid using his political influence to get into the national cricket team even though he’s a crappy cricketer and come out to represent the country in international matches with no one having the guts to kick him out even though he proves to be an embarrassment to the team ? Think of it.

Being bedridden provided me with a lot of spare time to follow the news channels and media as they ran around covering the ongoing build-up to the elections. Part of the media was trying to woo the viewers to vote, aiming for a billion votes this election. I like the concept and what they seek to achieve, because after all, we have a huge untapped base of sensible people who just don’t vote. I’ll come back to that issue in awhile.

Watching the media run from pillar to post though was a thoroughly disheartening experience for me. Because what I saw was simply appalling, to be frank.

Political parties weren’t talking of their grand schemes to make the nation a better place. They were just gossiping and bitching out loud in front of an audience. You had one of the major parties going back to literally dangerous ground, giving up topics like employment, rural education and facilities for something called a Ram temple in Ram’s birthplace. I’m sorry, but in a nation with such a huge population below the poverty line, how is a temple of any significance ? To pray while they die of starvation ? Shouldn’t we have temples for Ram’s earlier world saving avatars as well then at their respective birthplaces – let’s see, that would include a temple for a huge fish, a tortoise and a boar , right ?

Instead of discussing solid plans of development and schemes, the parties have focussed this entire election worth billions of rupees on a novice brat’s remarks that he’d cut off minority people’s hands. One major party probably overdid the punishment while the other shockingly backed the remarks. His mommy went to town getting mileage on it, insulting the presiding minister’s lack of having kids which really is an attack more worthy of fisherwomen ( I apologise to fisherwomen reading  this who may feel insulted. )

We have political parties with no common ideologies getting together to form the Third front, knowing fully well that if no one gets the majority, they’ll be needed to form a government as a coalition. It doesn’t matter that they disagree on every major issue of the election... just as long as they get their seat.

‘Tickets’ to contest aren’t given to hard workers or people with strong convictions. They’re given to actors and actresses instead, whose charms are more likely to woo the starstruck population. Where certain politicians have been barred from contesting owing to pending court cases, they’ve handed over the seat to their wife so that they can rule via her – is that how governments are supposed to be run ? I even found out that the guy who savagely burnt the priest, Staines, all those years ago was thinking of contesting but didn’t get the ticket in the end. Is that the kind of people who you want running your nation ? Proven murderers ?

Both parties make fun of the other’s policies on terrorism and how they can do better if they’re elected. Yet, no one has laid forth a rock solid plan on exactly what is their major plan to ensure our safety. Noone seems to be bothered about silly things like rural upliftment, empowerment of women, education and food or how we’ll be able to cope with the worldwide economic crisis – focussing instead on running their enemies with a roller, promising free Tvs to everyone and carrying swords to every election stage. One party is taking credit for our success in the Olympics and Oscars ( ?? ) while the other resorts to singing parodies on stage making fun of the former.

In short, no one is talking with a fixed plan on how they’re going to take India forward. The issues being discussed are all idiotic and irrelevant to the growth of the nation. It isn’t adult political issues, it’s idiotic schoolyard fights going on, calling each other names, talking about their bad bits and insulting their mommies.

The Election Commission too has been shown to be a toothless watchdog. Sadly, I see them pointing out various faults which are sensible, but it’s with the knowledge that they can’t do a thing – they haven’t been given any power, as was shown in the humiliating Varun Gandhi incident where they were told to buzz off, in no uncertain terms. It was a case of a classroom bully slapping the teacher after molesting a child, knowing fully well the teacher can’t do a thing back. Is that the kind of classroom you’d want your kids to be in ?

Which brings me back to the crux of this article. As I said at the beginning, the media was trying to woo the viewers to vote, aiming for a billion votes this election. I like the concept and fully understand what they are aiming for.

But I will not be exercising my right to vote this year.

Why ?

Are you willing to let a newspaper boy do open heart surgery on your mother ?

Are you willing to let a butcher run a space centre ?

Would you let a parrot handle your finances ?

Forget surgery and space centres, would you guys have been ok with my first question of this post – a rich kid with no talent buying his way into our successful Dhoni-led dream team? No ? And that’s just a game, right ?

And yet, you want me to vote on who will run a country and you give me a choice between criminals of all varieties including thieves, rapists, murderers, religious fanatics,inexperienced  actors and actresses, uneducated trouble makers and proven political failures ? The handful of honest goal driven individuals are so few and far apart I can count them, using one hand and I know they cannot significantly contribute to the nation, their virtues making them a pariah in this field.

No. I won’t vote. Because this is not a case of choosing a lesser evil. I must not have to choose between a corrupt toothless party,a religiously intolerant party or a dozen smaller parties with no fixed plans to run the biggest democracy. This is a huge responsibility and people who are capable of running the nation with fixed plans and goals should be in charge, not just every criminal of the street who’s decided that rather than working or studying, he’ll just join politics and become a millionaire.

If the educated working class like us doctors, bankers and engineers can be held accountable for us mistakes, then I want to know why politicians are not held accountable. If I promise you a safe operation and I don’t deliver, I am liable for legal action and losing my hard earned degree. So why are these clowns any different ? They never fulfil their promises, they take bribes and steal, they twist the law, change their political stand ( which was the basis on which people voted for them ) based on personal vendettas, cause riots to show displeasure, never attend the assemblies for which they were elected in the first place and once there, only cause chaos rather than engage in meaningful discussion. And since they have to save their ass, it’s a given that they will never allow for any law to be passed which would bar ‘their kind’ from taking part in elections.

So you know what ? I really hope you get your billion votes in this coming elections. I hope that there are a billion Indians who’ve seen the choices before them and felt that there is someone who can take India forward rather than drag us down. But I’m afraid I’m not one of them.  I’m one of ‘those weirdoes’ who won’t let a monkey do surgery on my family in an operation theatre. And I won’t be forced into letting the monkey do it just because the other option is a hyena who doesn’t even have an opposable thumb. That’s not how it works.

I am not convinced by the lot I see campaigning before my eyes this year. They are not capable of helping my nation move forward.

I will not be that billionth voter. 

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Let me know what you think.

  1. Is there truly a concept of going and casting a 'NO Vote'!

    Does that option exist, if you do not like any candidate? I have heard it does, but I have never voted, hence I have no clue.

  2. Nicely put..
    But I feel u are an escapist if u do so..We not voting doesn't solve the problem..

  3. In fact doc, der is a very obscure rule in our constitution that you can go to the polling booth and give an application to the polling officer stating your disinclination to vote for any of the candidates. you'll get ur finger marked and ur application will be counted as a no vote. And here's the crunch... if the number of no votes is greater than the difference between the winner's and the loser's number of votes, the election of the winning candidate will be cancelled and der will have to be a re election.

  4. in reply to ur comments, i got a very informative mail from piyush confirming what u said T-rex. It's called 49-0 apparently and works exactly as u said.. I didn't have the slightest clue on it. spread the word.

    Sumana, I anticipate a lot more comments along the 'escapist' lines, but I stand by what I'm saying - how do you vote when none of the candidates are worthy of being elected.. when no party seems a safe bet? if you're not ready to take a chance in other fields of life, how is it we're resigned to choosing criminals and actresses for the wellbeing of our nation.

  5. In fact doc I am Piyush. The One.

  6. Ever considering running for office doc? I think you could convince enough like-minded people to vote for you and you could make a difference. I know I would!

  7. Oops.. sorry, Piyush :)

    Johny, hehe.. you know me since over a decade man... I'm the dictionary picture of mandhabuddhi. I can be fooled by a 6 year old !! I wouldn't last a day in politics..

  8. We can't conclude that all politicians are bad.There are good ones too..Select them.We have to notice them and encourage them to do good work..There are bad people in other professions too..
    Example we hear lot about bad doctors..That doesnt stop us from going to them..We still hope we get good docs and they cure us..Same with politicans.Hope for best, by doing our best :-)..
    PS...Plz no hard feelings..It is my opinion .Am still a huge fan of urs:-)

  9. no hard feelings Sumana.. i agree there are a few good ones, but they're not in my constituency !! And I can't travel across the length of India to vote for the one good chap.
    As regards bad docs, well, sure they're there too... but the difference is a good politician is considered an exception.. some would say an oxymoron !

  10. To be or not to be is in your hands....but this problem will take time to resolve, good people are getting into the system through channels like NGOs...Dont expect to see change in a year or two...dont expect unrealistic must be aware of known saying in IT company...."9 mothers cannot deliver a baby in one month".....
    I am sure you must be doing your part to bring about the change in the society.
    Crime and corruption are very deeprooted in our system.
    Have patience and i am not sure whether we will be there to see good part of India in our life but it will change......
    I am not sure about you but i can see that.......

    Smiles :)

  11. man, Prashant.. I wish I had ur optimism.. what scares me is that while a whole generation of rogues is leaving, I'm afraid some of the new generation is just following in their footsteps rather than forging a new honest path.. and the transition is definitely not smooth is it ?

  12. It is so funny to see there are so many weird characters in our politics. For me the best entertaining reality show is two politicians arguing with each other.

    I just can't wait to see Mayawati attending G20 summit or Mulayam Yadav addressing the UN, or Devegowda discussing with Obama regarding Green Revolution.

    Laughing at your own misfortune sometimes eases the pain, isn't it?

  13. hey thr....missed reading ur articles...i hope ure doing much better:-)
    and ive been watching the news like crazy ths few weeks...its like total paisa vasool...totally agree to evrything u say...and whenevr they say choose the rite person and vote and blah duh!! wat do we choose from! but thn again....i dunno if not voting helps....can u tink of any othr way out..othr than keeping our eyes wide open and to a keep a watch on these soo called ppl we vote to victory!!

  14. hey thr....missed reading ur articles...i hope ure doing much better:-)
    and ive been watching the news like crazy ths few weeks...its like total paisa vasool...totally agree to evrything u say...and whenevr they say choose the rite person and vote and blah duh!! wat do we choose from! but thn again....i dunno if not voting helps....can u tink of any othr way out..othr than keeping our eyes wide open and to a keep a watch on these soo called ppl we vote to victory!!

  15. Sujeet.. eep.. can you imagine Mulayam going to the Un and fighting saying no more computers.. lets all become farmers again !!! Superpower status bye bye...

    Anonymous, ya.. I know how much fun it is to watch news channels during elections.. better than any soap opera... but man, its scary to imagine these are the clowns gonna rule us.. seeing the manifestos is traumatic really

  16. Was looking at the comment regarding the 49-0...I'd seen the email too a while back and on enquiring it looks like there really is no such option...

  17. Was looking at the comment regarding the 49-0...I'd seen the email too a while back and on enquiring it looks like there really is no such option...

  18. My friend Dr. Rosh, I am not particularly a good friend of apathy and boycott. Last year I fell ill 4 times within a span of 4months and consulted an equal number of doctors and finally took the fourth one to fix me for good(I am alive..still). Had I given up consulting the doctor second, third and fourth time once the first doctor failed to fix me, I would have been sick all this while or perhaps even dead. My point is - in a given constituency not all candidates are criminals- the criminal can be defeated if the good voters tactically vote against him en masse. I would have agreed with you if Laloo and Modi are contensting each other in the same seat. Today most of us hide in our living rooms laughing at what is happening in next door Pakistan, how it as become a failed state and how India is succesfully building cities, Indians sending man to moon, India being the IT giant blah blah. Guess what we are not far away from where Pakistan is - a few years more of mis-governance we are right there - activism is the answer not apathy.

  19. Hi Nikhil.. glad to hear from you. To be frank, watching this times campaigning has been even more disheartening than my illness in some ways.. noone has a fixed worthwhile manifesto.. all are just talking about past glories. forget changing the plate after getting elected, these clowns are changing their stand even during the campaigning on major issues.
    Seeing them, I pictured 3rd standard schoolkids throwing mud on each other rather than grown up leaders of a huge democratic nation.
    There are definitely worthy ppl. I agree on that. But the sad part is they are all pawns in a chess game.. because in the end, the decisions of the two big guns come from either an age old dynasty or a bunch of chaddi wearing sanghs. The good guys sane thoughts just get drowned amidst all this.. i'm sure even the pawn can win a chess game.. but sadly, this time around I dont see it happening. No party has any fixed plan except to get a seat by any means necessary.. vote bank politics, religion, money for seats...
    abhay yaar, just yesterday, all 3 parties contesting elections came to my home and offered cash for seat.. no kidding. The 3rd party was even funnier - even after knowing we werent voting for them, they demanded funds for their campaign.. as good will cos they are our neighbours too. Thats what breaks the spirit..
    docs and lawyers and engineers et al are duty bound to perform to the best of their ability.. here, jobless ppl suddenly come claiming to be PARTY WORKERS and we have to shell out our hard earned cash which then is used to bribe ppl to vote..

  20. Just wanted to take my earlier statement's something I came across regarding the 49 0 (among others)

  21. I too am not fascinated by all the guys who are in contention. But we need to look at the alternative that we have. We have none. Period. I have not so far been bribed for vote - but I have first hand experience of appeasement of candidate. But as Indians we should not be surprised nor over-react to all of these - we have seen cash, sarees, TV, rice, quota etc been distributed openly for votes in favor. All that is fine to me - as long as we participate to try and iterate the system towards betterness rather than give into a helpless defeat.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. To be honest I've been feelng, for the first time, that maybe i should vote this year. There is this independent candidate who is contesting from Bangalore. He is an engineering student, an amateur but sounds better than the one-leg-in-the-bucket crooks that we have around. But sadly, my vote is in Kannur and not here. And I really dont want to vote for anyone there for the very same reasons that you listed above.

  24. nikhil, suman.. doubt if u guys saw it.. there was an interview on NDTV 24x7 with Captain Gopinath, the independent candidate from bangalore.. like the candidate u described sumz, he too appears the real deal, yet you had the youth of today in the small audience assembled there mocking him cos as an independent he stood no chance and even if he did get thru , he'd just be 'ONE INSIGNIFICANT VOTE'.. i'd like to believe his words that 15 such independents could make a difference.. but the truth is that never happens.. in the end, the party with money talking wins.. such good guys get shut down.. and a good point is what u said - where we have a registration for voting matters too..

  25. Summary of my argument - Apathy, ignorance, pessimism and political inactivism of the educated is what has landed us in this unenviable position - as a part of the solution we do not want any more of that. I am happy that the electorate of Kannur and Vadakara LS seats agrees with me on that 80+ voter turn out.
    I am happy that we are discussing this, I am happy that some of us are thinking of voting. Well as far as people like Capt. Gopinath and others, with all due respect to their intent, what where they even thinking when they directly filed nominations for a LS seat. In a house of 543 you need 272 to form the govt, 100 odd to be the principal opposition and atleast a 25 seats to weild any noticeable influence on govt. policy and actions. Support to such candidate would merely be symbolic support, naive and finally end up wasting your vote. If such people are really thinking service to the nation they should start from standing in elections at the muncipal and panchayati level and gain mass support and people like us should help them to win by voting for them - then they along with a generation of like minded individual from the state can fight it out at the assembly elections and then so on and so forth toward national arena of LS.
    How many of us have even thought about voting in the local body elections or how many know who is our local councillor? I have voted when I was home, so I have my conscience clear.


    DO read it and let me know your opinions Doc!!!

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