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Elections 2009: We Can’t Look Forward Because We Look Back

February 9th, 2009 · 12 Comments

As both the major national political parties sounded the bugle for the forthcoming elections over the weekend, it was depressing to see none of the them articulate a vision for India going forward. None of them is saying why we should elect them and what’s different about them. We keep going back in time even as the need of the hour is to look ahead and put forth a vision with clear deliverables of what we can expect from them in the next five years.

As a friend put it, the parties seem to want to fight the 2009 elections based on what happened in 2002 (Gujarat), 1992 (Ayodhya), 1984 (Punjab) and 1975 (Emergency). What about 2014? No one even seems to be thinking about that. We cannot look forward to the future because we keep looking back to the past.

Maybe this is a reflection of what India wants. I doubt it. India’s people want to look ahead, but our polity and policies hark back to the past. If one party invokes Gandhi, the other invokes Nehru and Indira. We still have time to alter the agenda for the elections. And I hope the discussion will be about next 5 years rather than previous 60. Because India deserves better.

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12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Sameer // Feb 9, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Good point!
    I would not say its looking back *versus* looking ahead – after all we look at history to learn and be cautious about certain directions we want to avoid – for instance the radicalization of Coastal Karnataka even as other trappings and signs of progress start showing up. Our progress/development are multifaceted issues, and history does teach us some lessons about excesses in one direction or the other that we need to watch out for.

    Of course, our major political organizations seem to be battling it out totally on past issues! That is surely something that needs correction – and a plan for 2014 needs to be part their agenda.

    - Sameer

  • 2 Prashant Solanki // Feb 9, 2009 at 10:23 am

    First thing I wld like to say is until any political party gets clear majority in Lok Shabha, India can’t see prosperity.
    Present scenario focus only on dividing India with caste politics & reservations.
    Youth leaders are not emerging on national level, no political party has vision for future, no plans to combat global recession.
    I wld like to see people directly votes for Prime Minister of India. Person with Pan-India acceptance is natural choice to occupy top post.
    My choice wld be Citizens of India sld accept & acknowledge economic prosperity in Gujarat by Shri Narendra Modi. People in Gujarat have voted BJP with clear majority, which makes task alot easier for development. Shri Narendra Modi with its vision have shown able administration as well as development.
    Citizens sld note this and exercise their vote in the interest of the nation to national political party which can get clear majority.

    Vande Matram…

  • 3 Vishal // Feb 9, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Why don’t you write an open letter on tr blog adressing BJP – what people of india want you BJP to adress, once thats published these guys will get some sense of it. Look like the think tank of RSS/BJP is sleeping.

  • 4 Sanjay Mehta // Feb 9, 2009 at 10:47 am

    So I trust you are into it, and you are going to be that change which you want to see.. ?! Seeing that you have taken the stand and are supporting BJP..

  • 5 Esh // Feb 10, 2009 at 4:51 am

    Good ending: ‘India deserves better’. I have been thinking about this for a while. Which India/Indians deserve better?

    Why does India deserve better? Why do the Indians who vote based on caste, religion, freebies (televisions, electricity, money, liquor) and other things deserve better?

    Why do the Indians who dont use their brains to think for themselves and believe anything and everything the media delivers deserve better?

    Why do Indians who haven’t learnt anything from the past 1000 years deserve better?

    Why do Indians who want to disown their own past, talk down their country at the drop of a hat, and look to west for redemption deserve anything better from India?

    These are rhetorical questions but they need to be taken note of. Thankfully there any many Indians who care about the country and only those Indians deserve better.

  • 6 Indian // Feb 10, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Shining (Shameless) India, Vibrant (Violent) Gujarat!

  • 7 Vishal // Feb 10, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Esh – Let me answer Which India/Indians deserve better.

    I see in Mumbai entrepreneurship on every nook and corner. From the young lad who makes vada pav on , to the person who comes and delivers bread and eggs to hundreds of flats. I see people making an effort to do work , to better their lives. These Indians deserve better and there are many like them. It is government of India which has screwed their lives. The millions of India who make an attempt to lead better lives after fighting all odds deserve better.

    One has to look around more closely to know
    who deserves better.

    Vishal

  • 8 Esh // Feb 10, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Vishal,

    You are right about people doing everything to better their lives through hard work and perseverance in spite the govt doing whats it doing. But are they as diligent and smart when it comes to choosing their representatives. The person who is so responsible and willing to work hard for the betterment of his family, is he willing do his part for the betterment country , by choosing the right leaders. Come election day, he sees if the person belongs to caste, religion or what freebies he is doling out. I am not saying everyone is like this, but majority of people are like this, the proof is in the kind of representatives they are electing.

    It has become a fashion to say that politicians are not doing their jobs properly, but are people doing their job of electing their representatives properly.

    The crux of the problem here is a confused and detached polity. The media is supposed to bring information to the public that will help in diffusing this confusion and cure the detachment. But unfortunately, in India, that will remain a dream for a long time.

  • 9 Esh // Feb 10, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Oh, I forgot to add: family name. How pathetic can people get, electing someone whose only qualification is the accident of birth.

  • 10 Vishal // Feb 11, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Esh – Let us see why people are voting on caste,religion and criminals and why one cannot blame them for not choosing right leaders.

    Let us say there is a new young person who has just passed out from an average university and is about to work. Our education system would have made him un-usable for kind of work. The young man remains unemployed for some time and then applies for a government job, as he knows with the right connection he can get the job. He takes help of his caste or criminal politician and by paying the right bribe gets the job. He then goes and votes for his caste and criminal politician.
    Do we blame the young man for voting the wrong politician? From the perspective of the young man the politician has managed his needs.
    Who is the real culprit here ?
    It is the policies of the government which has made him vote the wrong politician. Had he got
    a right education, he would have got a right job.
    Were there many jobs the jobs would have chased him rather than he going to his caste or criminal politicians.
    He would not be dependent on the caste or the criminal politician for his needs and would not have voted for him.
    Take this above pattern and you will see why people make choices of wrong politician.

    The culprit remains the government of India which keeps on making the life a mess for its citizens by putting all kinds controls.

    Vishal

  • 11 Idris Baxamusa // Feb 12, 2009 at 1:04 am

    I agree that we have to look forward but how can we just simply ignore the past.

    Someone like Modi is doing all the right things for his state and sees like a future leader but can we just ignore what happened under his rule in 2002.

    So what your are saying is lets just blank out the past completely and hope for a better future ignoring everything.

    Not that Congress is any better, so in that way we have to choose between the better of the two evils.

  • 12 udayapg // Feb 19, 2009 at 3:02 am

    This country yearns for a better polity and Rajesh’s anguish is a sign of that, a good sign.

    Many rightly feel that this country has long been in the hands of people who are incompetent in addition to being illiterate and that something needs to be done about it.

    Many of them are educated and have met with success in their professional lives and are beginning to venture out to have their say in local/national affairs*.

    Many of them dream of a transformed India of zero poverty, endless highways and unlimited broadband, some of them can out imagine Kalam in how India could be and should be.

    For all their dreaming and their angst, expressed in books and at various fora, there has been little translation into political vision and political activity. Many have been content to fish in shallow waters, undertaking social payback with some kind of local transformative activity. While that is good, that is not good enough.

    For India to be governed better, it is necessary that these people mould and guide public opinion, and that they cannot do as long as they shelter under self created awnings. Politics may be a dirty pool, but they can take courage from Theodore Roosevelt, (of the “Speak softly, but carry a big stick” quote ) that good can be done if good people will it to be done.

    (For those who are new to Theodore Roosevelt and what he did to the American polity, can read his biography here -> http://www.bartleby.com/170/ I think even Rajesh should read it, if he hasn’t.)

    India needs young leaders with optimism and passion for action and a basic decency that does not wilt under the minor corruptions of public life. The successful and active professional meets these demands perfectly. It is time for some of them to take the plunge, if they want to realise the India of their dreams.

    Rajesh has taken a plunge, and as is usual to him, a rather deep one. Only time will tell if his choice was right. Whoever described him as a weather vane for future IT should perhaps describe him as a weather vane for the future of Indian politics too.

    I personally think that his enthusiasm to make a difference to the Indian polity should not go waste. It would prove a testing ground and an example to many of his compatriots who have for long fished in safe waters. It is time to be braver and the opportunity is now.

    There should be someone to show how it can be and should be done, how to translate good intention to action that will influence and benefit the entire nation. It is my personal opinion that Rajesh should take the plunge and (try to ) become a parliamentarian*. Let not his sweetness** be wasted on the desert air….

    Those who forward the motion may now raise their hands…And tell Rajesh that he should stand for election. And also tell the the right*** people that there is a (political) star in the making.

    Good luck, Rajesh, we are with you.

    PS: There is a rather long PS to this, I will add it to the next comment

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