It is parliament election season in India now . The country is so vast and infrastructure hasn’t caught up yet – so elections have to be held over several weeks in a phased manner . Whichever way I look at it – a coalition government is bound to rule India for the next term . And that usually is only slightly better than no government . And a country so diverse as India – with 1000s of languages and tens of states and countless religious beliefs – good solid governance is a must have to ensure continuous progress. It’s not a trivial challenge – to say the least .
There are three strong political groupings – one led by Congress , one by BJP and a third by the new AAP .
Congress led United democratic front – which in reality is neither united nor democratic – ruled for the last two terms . They barely got to govern with their structural issues . Regional parties held the government to random throughout the term. And given Manmohan Singh was just a figure head – whom the party could not find a safe seat to get elected, and hence had to get him in through the back door via Rajyasabha – his ministers seem to have had no intentions to take his lead . One of the greatest presidents we had – Dr Kalam – wasn’t even given a second term . And now they are projecting Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate . If Congress can’t find a leader outside the Gandhi family in all these years , how exactly are they going to watch out for the common man ?
It’s not as if Gandhi family is the only one looking for politics as a family business venture . Veteran leaders like Chidambaram , Jaswant Singh and many others found no moral issues in asking for seats for their kin . The country has a billion plus people – why does this keep happening across all political parties ?
There is BJP – and they have some very strong leaders . The big issue with them is that despite almost a guaranteed secular rule if they come to power – like their last term – they find it necessary to stir up a Religious agenda to get votes . That regressive nature is not fit for a secular republic that the constitution envisions . India needs economic development – which happens with unity of purpose, not with communal tensions . BJP tends to keep church and state separate when they govern – but not when they are running for offices. It’s pretty sad that this is the best way for them to come to power .
And finally there is the AAP . I was elated and disillusioned back to back with AAP . Corruption is a very serious issue in India and Arvind Kejriwal took a great step in rooting that issue . Unfortunately – they lack political maturity and ended up as a one trick pony . Running away from office in 49 days meant that they couldn’t take the heat of actual execution . Talk is cheap – and now they have to deal with the stigma of being a party that ran away . Real life governance is not binary – you cannot govern with the attitude that you will do only one thing . Fighting corruption is fantastic – but the state needed more and AAP didn’t stay to deliver . However , I am positive that in 5 to 10 years , AAP will be a very viable party to form a good government . And in the process, they will force other parties to reform and get closer to their citizens
In my mind – the reason for this mess is mostly a lack of education. We always get leaders that we deserve . The politicians who are after our votes would rather have a large uneducated and poor vote bank – which can be swayed by simple and mostly false promises . If I can’t find three square meals a day – I will vote for the guy who offers me free or subsidized food . If I am an oppressed factory worker who has no skills to find another job – the communist ideology might be too attractive for me to see other options . If I can’t read – I probably won’t realize that Rahul Gandhi is not the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi . If I didn’t have access to a variety of TV channels and newspapers – I might not realize that not all Muslims are terrorists and that many Muslims have served India at highest offices . If I don’t go to school – I might never hear about gender equality .
And for that – education is key. Education improves life across multiple dimensions – and gives us options . And it teaches us how to evaluate options . It allows us to have different beliefs but unites us as a country . It makes us Indians first and followers of a religion second . Education is what India needs – in abundance . It takes a lot of political maturity for a political party to push education at grassroots level across the country – as opposed to pontificating in an election manifesto.
The onus is on those of us who had the good fortune to get education to help our fellow citizens who were less fortunate . Part of that responsibility is in choosing wisely the people we want to represent us in government . Let’s choose wisely every step of the way for this election and every single one coming after it .