It’s Election Day in Mumbai today. I remember 10 years back, when I had just been old enough to vote, I was so enamoured by the charm of being part of the largest democracy, I was completely overwhelmed by the dance of democracy and I was all about being a responsible citizen. Being part of a college where moral science was more important than science, it was considered an embarrassment if you didn’t know the who’s who of the political world. Voting was important, but more important was voting for the right candidate. Naïve as I was, I actually believed that there was indeed a “right” candidate and all I had to do was educate myself, read, follow the news and make an informed choice. So for six months, I sacrificed my academic obligations and chose to pore over newspaper editorials while having animated discussions in the canteen, as I bunked one political science lecture after another. The “India Shining” campaign was at its strident best, and for all of us, the urban Indian first-time voter, the NDA was an automatic choice. But of course, the reality was something quite different, and the UPA came into power, and a decade later, they continue to be in power, albeit with its share of detractors.
2009 was less significant for me politically, as I was pre-occupied with recession, placements, new job, new house and new-found independence. Besides, UPA I had a fairly successful term, so the country wasn’t exactly up in arms in the anti-incumbency wave as it is today.
Five years later, as the UPA II stares at a hostile electorate: a country exhausted and disgusted with the multitude of scams, mis-governance, inflation, unemployment and slow growth, I have grown into a more mature and pragmatic citizen from the idealistic teenager, who strongly believed that democracy was indeed the solution. But with age and maturity, also came cynicism and a bit of helplessness.
Today, as I fervently scan the political space, looking for that small window of hope, all I am left with is disillusionment and an aching desire to press the NOTA option. But I also know that the NOTA option is not really an option, but more of a tool to run away from the reality: the reality being we are a billion plus population, young enough to move mountains, gifted enough to take the world by storm and intelligent enough to pose a serious challenge to the best, but also crippled by an ageing, regressive and rhetorical set of political leaders. A few months back, when the AAP party swept its way into power in Delhi, for a brief moment, I was excited, or even optimistic: not because I agreed with its ideology or its manifesto (both of which were still ill-defined and incoherent) but because it was something I could identify with: young, educated and clean. I was willing to give it a chance despite its relative political inexperience. But of course, six months down the line, I am back to square one, still looking for that one candidate I could put my trust into, I could see leading the country as it deserves to be led and who could rise over politics and get along with governance.
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
Today, on Election Day, I imagine about the day when politics will stop making me cringe as it does today…