Wednesday, January 24, 2018

What Decides an Indian Voter’s Decision to Vote for a Candidate - Religion, Caste or Development and Progressive Credentials?

I often see identity politics highjack election agendas; which are supposed to be based on what matters to public. Public often go along with that, thus validating party election manager’s assumption that they can continue with this and will be richly rewarded. People are so angry with their neighbors for something happened centuries back; many others are so unhappy because they think the state is not fair enough towards them; many others are so unhappy because they believe their beliefs are under attack and they need to fight hard to protect them.

The fact is, somehow our mind shed objectivity, reasoning and became a good ground filled with nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. This make it easy for various election campaign managers to saw their seeds.

When that seed become a plant and then a big tree, we often forget to analyze any argument and follow others blindly. This is indeed dangerous. I often wonder how one can kill another just because something happed thousands of miles away?


India is/was never secular in the way French republic is/was. We have an inclusive culture; we don't exclude religion from political or other arenas. We rather embrace them all. Four major religions started from India, at least 4 other religions found India as one of their homes. Most people who ruled Indian subcontinent partially or fully were deeply religious. No matter whether it’s Guptas or Sultanates or Mughals.

Contrary to what we like to say and try to believe, religion and executive is/was not totally separated. Even partition was based on two nation theory, where Jinna feared a Hindu majority nation will not be good for Muslims. However, it turned out that, Pakistan became a catastrophe for minorities.

What worries me most is giving religious colour to everything. Now people are unable (I would rather say refuse) to see things as it is. It’s become a custom to paint everting on religious colours. Go to any popular online newspaper or twitter; read news first and then goes to comments section. Here one can see that readers are fighting with one another; what surprises me is their arguments have hardly anything to do with news articles.

Regardless of topic, fight will soon become Hindu vs Muslim, India Vs Pakistan, NDA Vs UPA.


There are many others who are like – born to criticize. It doesn’t matter whether one is right or wrong. Trolls even go after well intentioned criticism as well. They simply attack person's religious believes, patriotism and calling him\her names but refuse to answer the facts!!! Now-a-days anyone who criticize government automatically become anti-national; any one criticizing social evils in Hinduism become anti-Hindu; anyone criticizing castism and atrocities committed towards Dalits automatically become anti-Indian and Pakistani; anyone supports any government decisions will automatically become sanghi and bakth. 

What more, many trolls are always living in the past. They go all the way to Sultanates period, take something from there and disseminate as if it happened yesterday. Many take things out of context and give new meanings to it. Now in India history is probably the most mutilated subject. Many are considering it as something where theories are coming out of air and doesn’t require any facts to back it up. Everyone is a historian now.

Coming back to original question, what people think before they select their representatives?

1. Religion: 
Political parties and contestants are appealing to people's religious belief. It’s like, we are here to protect you, but opponents are there to harm your belief. If they come to power, then your religion will be under attack. Many will forget everything else and take this as priority.

2. Nationalism:
Media is creating an environment of mistrust and fear by selective high voltage sensational reporting. Lot of people in media fraternity left factual reporting, confirmation of news story, meticulous cross verification and getting comments from other side long ago. For them, only one thing matters - breaking the news before everyone else. To get audience, they are pumping up nationalism. Now those who criticize government policies related to national security or Kashmir or Maoist insurgency will immediately be branded as anti-national and Pakistan agent.

3. Money: 
Gone are the days, when parties came up with right candidates. Now the main criteria for any candidate is having born in a religion which is majority in that constituency. Having enough money to spend will only increase the chance to get candidacy. Once you are elected there are many ways to get the investment back!!!

4. History: 
Now every story is branded as historical fact and pushed to online and print/electronic media space. There people hardly question theories based on facts.

5. Development and Progressive Policies:
This is supposed to be an important factor, if not the most important factor. When we are not focusing in this item and move away to high decibel empty propaganda campaigns, it is we - the people - are losing. Sad thing is, when two stories - one on development and another with religious flavor compete for attention, priority is often going to religious one.

6. Free Market, Socialism:
When we are not focusing on developmental issue, it is obvious that people care even less about the way development is implemented. We often talk in high decibels regarding thousands of non-issues. Hardly debate on what should be India's developmental agenda and how it is to be implemented. Unfortunately, Parliament is hardly on session and functioning to debate on that one.

I wish, people of India will elect their representatives based on what is their developmental agenda. Based on what they are offering to advance India's agricultural, industrial and service sector. What progressive laws they are going to implement. What they are going to do to fix India’s notoriously corrupt, slow and inefficient bureaucracy. What they are going to with Indian police system which functions as per whims and fancies of whoever on charge, not based on any impartial and just process.

In this republic day, I wish more people will understand the meaning and importance of being in a republic and become reasonable. I wish they reject any idea which tries to appeal to their religious/other belief system.


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