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Showing posts with label India Election. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India Election. Show all posts

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Open Letter to the Prime Minister of India: Mr. Narendra Modi

"Democracy is a device that ensures that we will be governed no better than we deserve.”
George Bernard Shaw 

Dear Mr. Modi,

Your mandate is greater than any party has had in decades, and it is yours to squander. The people of India have spoken loudly and clearly, but for me you need to start by reaffirming the most sacred duty of a Prime Minister: that of protecting ALL the children of India without regard for their religion, caste or creed. This duty must extend beyond protection. You must also provide equal opportunity to every Indian, giving each one a chance to lift himself from poverty with the benefit of an education. 

For the record, I have long abhorred the Congress-led vote-bank politics of pseudo-secularism that they have played over the last sixty plus years. All they have done is paid lip service to the word, doing nothing to help liberate our downtrodden. They have given sop’s to buy votes in the name of helping people, and created quotas in the name of providing opportunity. This has merely created the illusion of opportunity, and pushed people into jobs for which they are ill-qualified. This has led to further resentment. The Congress Party has done a great disservice to secularism merely to maintain their corrupt grasp on power.

We have the third largest Muslim population in the world, a fact that should make us all proud. They are a part of the rich fabric of our culture and its vibrant history. Now it is time they became an intrinsic part of our future. In many parts of the country, Muslims are still treated like second-class citizens or viewed with great fear and mistrust. Many believe they are terrorists, or that India will be better off without them. 

Much of this is due to irresponsible vote bank politics, but it is equally due to the fact that it has been convenient to let the majority of Indian Muslims live in the dark ages, under the thumbs of medieval mullahs, who in the name of religion have imprisoned their minds. “Muslims have the lowest literacy rates among all religious communities in the country…” (Source: Times of India article) There is no question that the Congress and their allies have been complicit in allowing this to continue. You can and must change this.

There are many well educated people who have come to believe that Indian Muslims are holding our country back. Some have told me that they believe we should pack all the Muslims off to Bangladesh or Pakistan where they belong. To all these people (and the RSS) I say, let us for a moment look at every country in the world that has staked their national identity on a religion or ethnicity. Where are they today? Do we want India to become a Hindu state so we can be more like a Pakistan or Bangladesh, an Iran or Saudi Arabia or even a Russia? Is this what the next generation really wants? 

country that has chosen to define itself based on religious affiliation, and discriminated against everyone else, has suffered lack of innovation mainly due to lack of diverse talent. These countries will never become economic powerhouses. The fact is that economic might is derived from inclusion rather than exclusion because a great idea knows no colour, caste, creed or religion. Americans realised this a century ago and made an effort to embrace people of all races and religions. The aim was to attract the brightest and best minds from around the world with the lure of higher education, equal opportunity and a reasonably level playing field. 

Ultimately, it is the diversity of our cultures that enables world-beating innovation, which in turn is the most potent engine for job creation and sustained economic growth. Unlike any other country in the world, India’s veins are already bursting with rich and diverse talent - just imagine what we can accomplish if you can help unleash this. India will truly shine.

You must provide every Indian with the right to education, and free all people from the tyranny of ignorance. Put every girl in school, affording her the same opportunities that a boy gets in life. Reaffirm the fact that without our diversity we would be a lesser country and a weaker nation. This is the challenge the people of India have put forth to you. 

Let your legacy be that of an RSS man who took great pains to wipe away the notion of India ever becoming a Hindu state. But if you take us down a path of communal discord or begin to allow the RSS machinery to start creating a subtle and more sophisticated 21st century apartheid like apparatus to discriminate against non-Hindus, then India will once again overwhelmingly choose corruption over communalism at the ballot box in five short years.

So give us the prime minister who helped us beat China (which EVERY Indian knows we can) by unleashing our potential with unbiased leadership, transparent government, business-friendly and consistent policies, all built on a truly secular vision for India.

Give us toilets; not temples…Jai Hind!

A Citizen of India

NOTE: updated on 1st June, 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ode to 2014 India Lok Sabha Elections

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not the President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country”
Franklin D. Roosevelt 

There is a lot we can and should be critical of in India, and god knows we are all good at that, but let us for a moment also give credit where it is due and marvel at what we can achieve when we put our minds to it. Not sure if any other country in the world could have pulled this off, just based on the sheer logistics of it. I mean the US even had to have one of their recent elections decided by their Supreme Court.

The 2014 Indian elections are the largest in the history of the world. Yes, the history of the world, with approximately 815 million people eligible to vote. To put it in perspective, that is more people than the entire population of Europe.

The election will cover voting for 543 Parliamentary Constituencies, across 35 States and Union Territories. Nearly 10 million officials (including police and security personnel) will be deployed to facilitate free and fair elections. Constituencies vary vastly, not only in voter size but also in accessibility. Malkajgiri in Andhra Pradesh is the biggest Indian constituency in terms of voters, with around 2.95 million eligible voters. Lakshadweep is the smallest with 47,972 voters. In Lower Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh, Hukani polling station has 22 registered voters, and officials have to travel 22 km on foot to get there (source: Reuters)

Electronic Voting Machines are being used in all of the 930,000 polling stations that have been set up across the country. Basic Minimum Facilities for polling stations will include drinking water, shed, toilet, and ramp for disabled voters. Voters will also have a “None of the Above” option on voting machines.

The voting has been broken into 9 phases or poll days starting with the first Poll Day on 7th April, 2014 (Monday) and the tenth (last) Poll Day on 12th May, 2014, with the results being announced on 16th May 2014.

There have been a number of reported poll violations that include booth capturing, bogus voting and intimidation of voters across half a dozen states, but “what is true, though, is that these violations have been brought to light by the EC's staff and cameras, which has allowed them to be dealt with swiftly.” (source: However, in any undertaking of this magnitude there are bound to be some missteps and problems; what is commendable is how swiftly the EC has taken action and dealt with them.

The Election commission has gone through great pains to ensure free, fair, peaceful and participative elections; which in their words “are the life force of democracy”, and I think we can all agree that they have done a tremendous job and the world’s biggest democratic election process is something we can all celebrate and be very proud of!