Friday, April 17, 2009

The Prerna Blog

Rock The Vote

It is too easy to forget what it really means to be the world's largest democracy, especially for those of us who remain relatively unaffected by the vagaries of Indian politics because we can buy our way out of most problems the government can't solve.

For the past few decades, India's educated elite have taken less interest in politics than the uneducated masses. And this has probably been the greatest reason why India's infrastructure, health and basic education have maintained 3rd world standards even while the educated elite have rocketed up to international levels of wealth. India's intellectuals have been too busy making money for themselves to bother with societal issues, and so some of the most challenging problems in India remain unsolved. But it is time that we educated elite realize how valuable our freedom is to our continued prosperity; the world's largest democracy will crumble if we do not begin to participate actively in its well being. We must understand that the plight of the uneducated masses is our own plight, and that it is our responsibility to raise all of India to greatness. If we - who can read and write, who understand why minority rights must be protected, why women should have equal standing as men, and why religious tolerance is essential - do not vote, then how do we expect our democracy to continue to function in a sensible manner? Uneducated voters are more likely to be swayed by manipulative politicians with corrupt agendas and are less likely to understand which government policies will benefit them in the long-run. If we hope to see any improvement in things like water quality, health, education, and sexual freedom, we must make our voices heard by ballot, not just on blogs. A successful democracy encourages voting by all its people, but it demands the active participation of its most educated.

So GO ROCK THE VOTE in the 2009 General Elections!!!

Oh and before you vote, do a quick search on your favorite politicians and make sure they're not criminals:

http://www.nocriminals.org/
http://www.google.co.in/intl/en/landing/loksabha2009/

A few of you have requested me to give my thoughts on the qualifications of the various candidates. I started to write a post along those lines but quickly realized that most of my judgments are not really based on outward qualifications or claims. All the candidates say they want to improve water quality, increase jobs, use technology, etc., so what's really different about them? Although we have always been taught that we should vote for candidates "on the issues", it's nearly impossible to do so when there are hundreds of people all saying basically the same thing. Of course there are some pretty significant differences (e.g., fundamentalist jackasses saying they will cut the throats of India's Muslims after they are elected), but most of the publicly-approved talking points all have a similar quality of sounding too good to be true. The truth is, all politicians say manipulative things and promise too much. Such is the nature of politics. So how do we wade through all the shit? Should we really vote "on the issues", or should we just cave into our temptation to vote for the guy (or gal) we'd most like to have chai with? When I choose a politician, I generally ask myself the following questions:

1. is he / she a good person (or, does he / she seem like a scummy, corrupt bastard)?
2. is he / she at least as intelligent as I am?
3. is he / she at least as educated as I am?
4. is he / she open to new perspectives?
5. is he / she tolerant towards opposing beliefs (or, is he / she a fundamentalist)?
6. does he / she understand economics?
7. does he / she genuinely view poor people as humans who deserve basic rights (or, is he / she just trying to win their votes)?
8. is he / she aware of the world, and the importance of our country's relationship to other countries?


I do not give my vote to anyone who does not pass with a "yes" answer to all of these questions. So I guess it's a bit of both - I choose on broad issues and on my own affinity towards the person, with a recognition that no politician is perfect and that it's okay to disagree on some things, as long as we can agree on the most important. Ultimately, I vote for the people I trust to make laws and spend money in ways that are consistent with my beliefs about what is right and wrong, what is important for my personal freedom and what is best for my fellow citizens now and in the future.

Jai Hind.

follow Prerna on twitter at twitter.com/prernagupta

...share your views at yaari.com/girltalk

Sincerely,
Prerna Gupta

1 comment:

P.Sha said...

Hi,

I have such an interest in India too! This post is a good way to raise interest about the main issues in India. Something has to be done sooner or later. If people could engage more people into these campaigns and support you, you will get really far. I'm going to teach in India soon time, then I will be teaching about this too. The children is the future of India. Good luck!