It is near time for the General Elections to take place in India, the world’s largest democratic exercise when a nation of over a billion goes to the polls to choose their leaders. After the horrific terrorist attacks that took place on the 26th of November last year in Mumbai, the nation has awakened and political apathy seems to be dispelled from a majority of the elite and middle class. The democracy in India has been fairly successful ever since its birth in 1947. However, most of the times it was the poor and the underprivileged who had the most power to decide who would govern the country. But times are changing and for the first time in 2009, it seems that the middle class and the elite will rise to the occasion and vote in the right and deserving leaders to steer the helm of the nation.
Repercussions of 26/11
After the terrifying attacks on the country’s beloved city of Mumbai, there were nationwide agitations that demanded answers from the political elite. There was anger on the streets from Delhi to Kolkata which was directed towards the callousness of the national leaders towards security of the nation. Pakistani terrorists had easily accessed the country and killed and injured hundreds of Indians. National security had become a joke and this attack was only one in a series of attacks that had been rocking the nation sporadically. It seemed like the public had had enough of the obfuscated promises and explanation of the leaders and wanted concrete action. This public sentiment was so well channelled that politicians had to take immediate notice and measures were undertaken at the earliest.
An appeal to the common public by Tata Tea in a TV commercial advertisement symbolises the state of the country. Tata Tea has been regularly advocating focus on social issues in India through its ad campaigns. After the leaders of India let her down in the worst terrorist attack in the history of the country, the campaign has really gathered steam. Tata Tea joined hands with Janaagraha, a Bangalore-based NGO to inspire the youth and middle class of the country to go to the polls and play their parts in realising the dream of a better and more prosperous India. The campaign calls for “A Billion Votes” in the upcoming General Elections. It seems that the campaign might just be able to get real close to its target. The website, jaagore.com hosts a whole set of remarkable features. Voters can find information regarding their constituency and polling booth. It boasts of an online voter registration engine to allow voters to fill their voter registration forms and then helps them to submit the form as well. This is a revolutionary measure that seeks to better the Indian democracy and has garnered praise even from the Election Commissioner.
Still, a Long Way…
Although, the number of candidates in these elections with a criminal record has decreased from the last time the country went to the polls, the typical Indian political drama still runs strong. Excessive expenditure on campaigning, petty issues being highlighted, caste and regional politics and mud-slinging at rival candidates and back-stabbing among allies; it’s all part of the Great Indian Political Drama. One can only hope what has started will continue and one day the nation will awaken.
So as the elections approach and the Congress and BJP find themselves facing not only each other but also a Third Front, the polls will truly reflect more the opinions and priorities of the nation as compared to the hallmarks in Indian politics like casteism and regionalism. Even on websites like IBNLive.com, one can find political manifestos of the major parties, lists of candidates and information regarding the elections. This reflects a slow but real awakening of the nation’s people against corruption and political apathy and it’s certainly something that must endure if India is to move forward on the path of development and advancement.