India’s voting problem
An article in the Times of South Mumbai struck me- it was a feature during Independence Day, which I can’t find online anymore, but it was a series of questions pertinent to civic responsibility and active citizenship. One of the questions was “do we have the right to criticize the government when we don’t vote?”
I found it interesting, because we’re the first to criticize our politicians, whether it’s by the youth or any one from South Bombay. I actually got into a discussion with someone about Indian politics ( *surprise* he actually grew up in Dubai) to be met with the strangest reactions : “you actually follow politics?” or “i don’t know it’s just all corrupt.” I mean they’re probably not strange to those from b-town, actually quite the opposite – they’re expected, just unfortunate.
And I want to question the youth out there in a similar manner. Is that really what we think? And if so, is it a simple acceptance or something that you think can be changed? Going by the youth I’ve spoken to it’s the former.
So we don’t want to vote, but we want to slam down the issue as downright corrupt and something that we distance ourselves from. ( have you ever bribed a cop? of course, but he was corrupt for accepting it right? yes lets not associate with corruption please)
A lot of the justifications are on the lines of the “well even if we did we’re just a small part of the population it won’t really make a difference”argument. So we know that we’re a minority even though we’re pretty full of ourselves-either way they say each vote counts and that might be slightly idealistic as would the “each of us can make a difference” argument. Still a vote, it’s reflective of a civic and social responsibility, to say that we care about the people who represent us-unfortunately the last polls did in b-town did not reflect this.
The word is that in India the rich can afford not to care about politics-a student at my university took this up in a research project on civic participation in Bombay and Delhi. And it’s true—people are usually confused when I say I’m studying political science. “So you want to get into politics?” is a common reaction with a slightly perplexed expression. Is it a profession beneath us? Or is it just infested with bribery and corruption that we can’t comprehend why someone would want to serve their country?
It amazes me how we immediately associate politics with corrupt but when we look at the numerous scams that huge business families have been embroiled in we tend to shrug our shoulders. They don’t represent us in a governmental sense, so maybe it’s not that big an embarrassment? ( fact is they probably have as much influence over the people–is that not a problem!) but of course we all are in the system and perpetuate it in some way. On raising this point in a conversation I found that youngsters agree with this-but have taken a sort of indifferent view so as to say “Yeah corruptions just everywhere” back to the nonchalant, what can we do issue… and even if we could we have better things to do of course. ( south bombay is *very* happening.. in fact it’s the only happening thing there is as far as we’re concerned..)
The truth is we are a small population, our boundaries are even smaller-But we are privileged in ways that a lot of the youth in our countries is not. We don’t recognize this. We have access to cultural, educational and financial resources and the opportunities are endless, it’s our mindset that’s narrow. Rahul Gandhi in a speech a few months ago urged the youth to join politics. Sadly this youth that thinks it can afford not to care.