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.
Great article Prasanna….
“Generations to come will scarce believe that one such as Deve Gowda ” That was a classic statement.This bellicose fatty should be shown the door .if we Kannadigas have any sense but this Nelson Gowda (nela=MaNNu and son=Maga) will remain our nemesis !! But u need such cartoons…otherwise except for that pathetic yediyurappa, where is comedy left in life !!
I dont understand this, “Oh, we dont need to vote, we are the Govt” funda. Voting is a privilage, a privilage that some countries around us dont have. A privilage that “billions” of people around us from China to Burma wish for but cant exercise.
To abuse such privilage with this audacious statement of “we are the govt” shows a rather disregard for our position as a “vishwa manava”.
“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.”
What contrast. So, how exactly are you planning to govern when the criminals have looted the bank? Goodwill, perhaps?
Absolutely agree. Not sure why this post is tagged as tongue in cheek!
Sit back and think a little.
“Ambani don’t worry about the governing?”
Do we need any tutoring to know that the money-bags puppeteer the government to their advantage, irrespective of the party in power?
Is it not our HDD who said the traders are the lubricant of the system?
Agree, only the middle class get in as the cogs of machinery and help turn it.
But do all the middle class actually benefit from its power? No, it dosn’t. Only the ‘cogs’ bloat as the time pass, to become the wheels, the rich, the industrialists and the MLAs or in other words ‘the de-facto government.’
The middle class, by not voting , is actually helping the unscrupulous to herd the illiterate poor into their vote banks and get to govern according to the tunes of the ‘Ambanis.’
Dear Alok, the rest of the middle class is living in a ‘lotus’ induced languor!!
What’s this article trying to convey??? I’m lost!
Alok is right. The middle class does not vote, for it does not need that ugly shot of desi whiskey or saree made of shoddy fabric. The sad thing is it is the most educated part of Indian society. It can make a statement by voting. In almost every race, there is that one candidate who has nothing but his innocent desire to serve or plain foolishness going for him. Let’s take a chance. What could be worse than what is likely to emerge from the slough of criminal desire or outright criminality that will likely occupy the shiny seats in the sandalwood scented Vidhaanasabha? Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out just how many politicians-elect know the meaning of the term “Vidhaanasabha” and how it is different from that other pond of slime, the Parishath?
Actually I went from believing that middle class doesn’t need to vote to middle class maybe the problem in India. As noted in this article, we are doing very well… getting good jobs, access to good education and health care. However, politicians and govt can get away with nonsense policies becoz we dnt care or take interest. If the middle class asked politicians about issues like what is being done to make sure that rural and poor communities can keep up with rising standard of living, what is being done to provide cheap quality primary and secondary education so that is accessible to everyone, what is being done to provide quality health care to everyone… and vote based on that then it just might actually force politicians to bring about real change and improvement. Shared prosperity can be achieved only when we all care about each other and vote sensibly.
Then why cry when Gowda/sons rule you? Then why ask for reservation for the middleclass woman? Why oppose reservation for the OBC?Why talk about corruption when it is the middleclass which is corrupt?