ALOK PRASANNA writes from Bangalore: OK, so I succumbed to the pressure and voted.
All those radio ads, the newspapers specials, the gigantic banners on streets, and peer pressure from smug fellow law schoolers finally made me register as a voter, collect a voter ID card, and go out there and hit the button on Election Day.
I walked back feeling good about having performed my civic duty, happy that I wouldn’t be branded as a cynical, know-it-all who doesn’t vote, but acknowledged as a cynical, know-it-all who does.
In fact I was even disappointed when the voter turnout for Bangalore city was about 50% or so.
I wanted to write an anguished piece for churumuri on “Why don’t the middle classes participate in the elections?” Halfway through, I realized that it was the classic case of kaiyyali benne hidkondu urrolella thuppa hudukudu.
Why should we (as in the middle class in India) “participate” in government by voting in elections, when we are the damn Government?
If the Government is the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the police, the election commission, the PM, President, the military, then we, the middle class, pwn the Government (and that’s not a typo).
I’m not talking about the clerks and the constables, but the IAS and IPS officers who are in charge. It is only the middle class that could (and probably still can) afford the education necessary to attain such posts, and once in it, has the necessary connections to stay there.
I don’t see too many daughters and sons of Puttamma and her like in the Government.
And Mukesh Ambani wouldn’t bother himself with the nitty gritty of running a Government when he has Reliance to worry about.
Sure the odd, hardworking, Hindi-movie-like-against-all-odds-poor guy joins Government (note how this never happens anymore in the movie industry itself) but these are only the exceptions that highlight who rules all organs of Government.
Yup, the middle class has Government neatly tied up in a bundle.
Except the Legislature.
Aah, Parliament. The one thing the poor suckers in rural India imagine they have some control over. So diverse, so vocal, so participatory, so powerful, so … so… useless.
I mean for all its “supremacy of the Parliament”, and “primary lawmaking body” it is still the most vestigial of governmental organs. More law is made by the Executive on any given day, and if the judiciary doesn’t like the law, it don’t matter shit (as poor Anbumani Ramadoss found out the other day).
So, realizing the utter and total futility of making laws, our Parliamentarians (and their diligent counterparts in the State Legislative Assemblies) have decided that they might as well spend the time doing a bit of campaigning and causing chaos.
So, we have well-rushing, tearing up of papers to prevent Bills from being introduced, rugby style defence (provided by women!), and of course, the infamous Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly Mike-Mela of 1997.
But you must admit: all of this is highly entertaining.
We should follow humour columnist Dave Barry‘s suggestion and see Parliament as the organ of Government devoted to entertainment (not that kind of ‘organ of entertainment’, you pervs!).
I mean, do you see any talent show throwing up a Lalu Prasad Yadav?
Does any WWE fight compare to the drama of watching zero hour on Lok Sabha TV?
Could even the world’s greatest satirist have come up with the kind of absurdity we saw in forty months of “coalition rule”?
Generations to come will scarce believe that one such as Deve Gowda actually walked in flesh and blood. They’ll dismiss him as a parody or a satirical composite of real people. After all, humans couldn’t possibly behave like that in public?!
So, in a public service message to the ones who usually batter our senses with public service messages: Stop asking us to take elections seriously!
The fate of the Government does not depend on the middle-class vote.
The future of Indian democracy does not depend on people like me taking 10 minutes from blogging, surfing the net, and Gtalk to go and vote for the most interesting symbol on a fancy machine.
Let the uneducated, and the misled vote for the criminal, the superstitious, the plain bigoted and the reactionary, and let them all behave as if they run this country. Taxes will seem like money well spent on four years (or less) worth of sheer entertainment.
We’ll do the governing anyway.