Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why Congress may spring a few surprises in the current polls

I am no psephology expert, and these are just my thoughts.

Lets agree that, BJP is outspending Congress by a huge margin and their media managers have made very effective use of this spending power. With that as a background, here are a few thoughts for you to consider

Gujarat has certainly grown fast over the last 10 years (next only to Uttrakhand). However 10 other states have outpaced it in growth over the last 5 years (period for which data is available). So while there is much to like about what is called the Gujarat model (frankly, other than a few anecdotes, I know nothing about this famed model), it is certainly not the only 'model'. Gujarat still has prohibition(although per reports there is a 30K crore grey market). Therefore its tough for me to reconcile with the Gujarat model, if I have to buy my weekly fix through the grey market, although my spouse would be happy if it implemented nationwide.

Lets also agree that in cities (certainly the metro cities in North and West India) there is certainly a Modi 'wave'. But it may be imprudent to completely write off Congress for a couple of reasons

1. Anti incumbency vote may get divided between Modi and AAP
2. Congress Government has done tremendous work outside of the main cities in the areas of Education and Healthcare over the last 10 years. Initiatives like NREGA, despite many chinks in execution, are providing livelihood to many and part of the enormous work done on 'Inclusion'. While Congress has failed to highlight this in the media, there is bound to be some goodwill from these initiatives amongst people that have benefited from it.

In any case, if Modi does win, his party may not be the one celebrating over the next 5 years, because it may turn out that the incumbent government is not really more corrupt that the previous government by his party, as is the popular perception. But that this, popular perception, is a result of the tremendous increase in media spotlight/CAG activism over the last few years, This is likely to get amplified even more in the coming 5 years because of the huge expectations being built around him.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Elections 2014: Media inquisitions and Ullu Banaoing

Its elections time once again and a rather elongated period. Our politicians are now facing increasing scrutiny from media and the common man. Journalists are not afraid to ask the rough questions or relay popular resentment in interviews with new or powerful seasoned politicians (except Modi, Sonia and Rahul - which is not unexpected - even Arnab Goswami's interview of RG was rather tame, compared to his usual inquisitions).  Remember they still face accusations about choosing sides, biased opinions and paid news. But have our journalists come of age.

Despite the above accusations, I believe that the biggest failings is their ability to questions the replies they get, to get past rhetoric and not allowing these politicians to escape with jingoism and get real answers. Eg  Q. Why haven't you apologised for the riots that happened in the year AAAA?  Answer: Why does our oppositions not answer for XXX, YYY and ZZZ.  More people died in the these three. They were in power at the centre at all these times including in AAAA.

The journalists are happy at this point. Content that they have got the answer to the questions that were handed to them by their editor. They tick off this question and move to the next one. Politicians have realized that that they can side step difficult questions quite easily. Notice the reply, does not even attempt to the question asked and easily sidesteps it. The interviewer mentally ticks off a box in his list of questions and moves on to the next one. Headlines next days would say MMMM asks opposition party to atone for their sins.

This gets repeated for issue after issue. This "Ullu banaoing" continues. Everybody is happy.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Were you denied the right to vote yesterday? Here is a story you can relate to.

Were you denied the right to vote yesterday? Here is a story you can relate to.

Source: http://www.rediff.com/news/column/ls-election-today-i-was-deprived-of-my-right-to-vote/20140411.htm

When Reeti Pandharipande walked into the polling booth at 7 am, she expected to vote. Many hours later, she returned home tired and frustrated, with a finger that was not ink-stained.
You voted on April 10. I did not.
Here's why.
I woke up at 6.15 am and was at the polling booth to vote at 7 am. I had my voter’s ID card, the same one I had used in three previous elections, at the same centre where my in-laws and husband vote.
To my shock, my name was missing!
I looked up as many lists as possible till 1.30 pm, moving from one booth to another, trying to find a solution.
My husband and I then went to the voting helpline. The name is irony itself; the voting helpline looked like it needed a lot of help.
There were four staffers who were attending phones that were ringing off the hook.
A typical call consisted of a caller complaining that his or her name was not in the voter list. The helpline operator would take down the details and promise to call “later” if he could find the name in the voter list.
This was easier said than done as the website on which the list could be searched was painfully slow and full of bugs.
The staff seemed earnest, but were helpless.
They couldn't find my name on the list, but they did give me a shocking bit of news: My voter ID, a unique combination of alphabets and digits, was associated with the name of a woman staying at Manewada (Reeti stays in central Nagpur while Manewada is located at the city's periphery).
Disheartened after over an hour's futile wait, hubby came back home.
My father-in-law suggested I meet the district collector and complain about the goof-up.
I went to the collector's office, but the man in charge, Abhishek Krishna, was away on poll duty. I was asked to meet the deputy collector, Pradeep Dange.
After a brief wait, I was granted an audience with Dange and other senior officials.
Already seething with anger and frustration, I told them what the problem was. Deputy Collector Nishikant Suke told me that if my name was not in the voters's list, I could not vote on April 10. Period.
I pleaded with him and explained I had voted in at least three elections previously, had not changed my address or made an application to delete my name from the voter's list. How, then, was my name missing from the list? Who deleted it? And why?
The official said, "It may or may not have been a mistake. You should have checked whether the latest voter's list has your name. It's not our responsibility at all."
So let me get this straight!
It is my responsibility to complete the voter registration procedure, submit all documents, identity and address proofs.
It is my responsibility to stand in a queue to submit the documents and get my picture clicked.
It is my responsibility to not mislay the card.
It is my responsibility to produce it every time I vote.
And, yes, it is my responsibility as a responsible, educated citizen to vote.
But why is it my responsibility to check if my name has been deleted from the list due to a clerical goof-up?
Why is it my responsibility if my voter ID has been allotted to some random person?
And if my name has been deleted due to no fault of mine, why is my responsibility to go through the same circuitous procedure of making the voter ID card?
I got this explanation: "Do you know how much workload one officer has? How can all that work be done flawlessly? The voter list gets updated every January 1. So your name got deleted. Do you expect me to keep a check on each and every name?"
Yes, I bloody well do. Because, sir, that's your damn job.
Our politicians spend millions of rupees campaigning, constituency-hopping in chartered planes, putting out ads and paying crowds to attend their rallies. If they are so desperate for votes, how about making sure that the voter who wants to vote for you has his or her name in the list?
Reeti had to return home with a finger that was not ink-stained.There are many people just like me, whose names were deleted from the list because of a 'clerical error' and who went from one booth to another, one office to another, to plead for that one opportunity to have their say in the country's democratic process.
And all they got was, "Go away. Make a new voter card. You can't vote this time."
The governnment, the politicians, the administration get disheartened by the fact that barely half the voting population takes the trouble to get out of their homes and vote. They make appeal after appeal about how every vote is precious. About how it is a responsibility. A duty. A right.
Yes, my vote is my right. And today, I was deprived of my inviolable, Constitutional right, for no fault of mine.
So, instead of posting a selfie with my inked index finger, I am posting something different.
I am posting my middle finger to this wretched system and to the politicians who don't deserve my vote.
I don't respect the system, because the system doesn't respect me.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin