Elections for Delhi are on again to elect its new government. Thanks to Aam Admi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal who chose to resign on the 49th day of the party governing the city in the previous elections. It is difficult to not stay rubbed by the energy of elections, especially if you care a bit for the nation and wish that something good happens.
I stumbled upon a Discovery’s documentary on 2014 Loksabha election in India that elucidates and highlights what elections in India is about. Seeing that documentary was a reason to marvel at the elections again! There are two main reason to my marvel.
CLick on the image to open the video
First one was at the efforts taken by the establishment to ensure that every eligible citizen is given the opportunity to exercise her ( his) franchisee. The team reaches the last village traveling on a helicopter and then by some transport on the road and then by trekking the himalayas for couple of days to reach a village with 20 families. Around 100,000 election officers are deployed to track the money spent by the parties during their campaign, reporting to the election commission. The geographical spread of the election from the hills to the plains to the deserts, across states with diverse cultures and religions. The entire situation was overwhelming.
Second one, a more banal. rhetorical and an obvious reasons- its brings in one landscape how a nation that is made up of so many contradiction and differences live together tied to together by some unknown thread. And how a all of them come together expressing that unity by exercising their right to vote and chose their politician.
When I shared this feeling of marvel to a friend, the response was:
“(I am) not sure why does it have to be a matter of pride that we conduct the most complex election exercise on the planet…
…come on, we need to get past that now !
the trick is – overwhelm people. and then that will make them not understand or see certain things. and that is when pride kicks in .make them feel proud about it.”
When I probe further that if we are being tricked into feeling proud: The conversation further is pasted here:
“Friend: all of us! yes!
and our own tendencies are not to bask in that fuzzy feeling of being Indian
which is being sold to us canned and flavoured.
Praveena: there are things we look at critically and analyze and try to poke holes into…
Friend: we dispense with reasoning. and our proclivity towards reason is also quite less.
Praveena: but there are certain other things you dont know enough and are not critical about and therefore overwhelmed and and feel proud about
Friend: this very thing … in the drive to elegance and neatness. someone says anything critical then it becomes “poking holes” attempt!
Praveena: it seems as if one should not appreciate anything that happens … and look at all of it critically.
what is wrong in being appreciative of something which ‘apparently’ looks like a work done well?
I dont get that!
Friend: its emptyness! that is problematic.
Praveena: if a person shares a sentiment ( like pride ) with the majority does that mean , its because of lack of deeper engagement?
Friend: that fuels fanaticism.
Friend: we are only gilding deeper problems with this fine coat of pride
its easy !
emptyness – of appreciation !
Praveena: does one always have to look at problems?
Friend: I dont have an answer !
it sounds rhetorical
Praveena: and appreciation need not stem out of emptiness”
My interpretation of whole discussion/debate was that this friend seems to not want to take pride of something because it empty and that can be a fertile breeding ground of fanaticism. And the two reasons mentioned above are not strong enough reasons for why anyone should be proud of election being one of many such things. In a way, I found this line of discussion a little provocative and only made me reason further. I think the following reason is good enough to for me as an Indian to pride over the elections and see it as a phenomena that is unlike any other in the WORLD!
While many countries in the world struggle to have a government of that is just and is of people’s choice, we as citizens of this country should be happy that we are governed by people whom we elect. I think to be aware of the complexity of holding elections in a just manner, reaching out the last mile to ensure every citizen is able to exercise their franchisee, ensuring its a democratic country is something to be proud of.
Of course the immediate though that crosses one’s mind is, if u can go all that far in helicopters and trekking for days together to get those votes, why does development not fly to its citizens.
But the system of democracy is where delivery of development is responsibility of the elected individual delivery.
The fact that democracy thrives and the freedom of choice to choose a representative is a REAL choice . Is this not good enough a reason to be proud of? And is this reason still EMPTY?
And last of all, I do not think we need to get past the pride- rather work on what lacks in our country with the pride intact.