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TECH TALK: An Agenda for the Next Government: Marvels of Indian Democracy

May 21st, 2004 · No Comments

Even as the new government takes over and there is a sense of uncertainty as to what policies it will adopt, there are some things to be happy and proud of. For one, the graceful manner in which Vajpayee bowed out of power, with his statement, A party may have lost, but a nation has won. There was no horse-trading to try and stay in power the people had given their vote for change, and in the true spirit of democracy, the verdict was accepted without a murmur by the BJP and its partners.

Second, the use of the million electronic voting machines (EVMs) which short-circuited rigging and the counting process. Developed by Bharat Electronics, the EVMs performed remarkably well across the country. Even aside from the cost savings, they have ensured speed when it comes to delivery of the results. As recently as a few years ago, the counting process in India was something which extended for a few days. This time around, it was all over in a few hours. There may still be some questions on how rigging-free the EVMs were (are there Trojan Horses in the software) these must be addressed by Bharat Electronics by having the software analysed by experts. But for now, Indian can bask in the glory of having conducted a truly electronic election!

Third, the presence of youth among the winning candidates. In politics, youth may mean inexperience, but it also means energy. Even though most of the younger winners are relatives of older politicians, they belong to a different era. Hopefully, this will bring about fresh thinking in governance. India’s youthful population has high hopes from its generation next of politicians. Over time, hopefully, there will be more professionals who will enter politics. This is the radical transformation that is needed.

Fourth, the media coverage and the exit polls. The competition among the TV channels ensured that there was ample variety and some levity in what one saw. The exit polls, even though they were all proved wrong, added to the drama. If there is one thing to learn from the exit polls, it is that they tend to capture the direction but not the magnitude of the swing. Now that the elections are over, we can all get on with life.

For me, after three elections (1996, 1998, 1999) which I helped cover live on the Internet on our IndiaWorld portals, I sat back and watched the results unfold on TV and the Internet. It was a very different experience. TV did a good job in presenting the overall results and the opinions. The Internet websites provided more depth. But it was still hard to find out what has happening in a specific constituency. Hopefully, the next elections will correct this, and also see a greater debate also at local levels. If we can build out India’s social, physical and digital infrastructure in the next five years, that dream may actually be more closer to reality that we can now imagine.

So, we, the people of India, have made our decision. Irrespective of what party or candidate we voted for, it is for us to ensure that we get the governance we need to take India forward faster. Bharat and India are but two sides of the same coin. Without one, there is no other. The hopes of many now rest with a few. Will they deliver?

Tags: Tech Talk

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