Election Fervour or Fever?

In India, we have three seasons:  the festival season, cricket and then the election season.  Of these, the schedule for festivals and cricket tourneys appears to have at least some regularity and order.  After all, it is not too difficult to figure out on which date the Ganesh Puja falls or when an India vs. Pakistan match is, in a given year.  But speaking of the Indian election season, it could be upon us like a bin bulaye mehmaan.

Inadequate Women’s Representation? A win-win Solution…

Over the past five decades, the representational base of our legislatures has definitely broadened.  Unfortunately, this has not translated into more number of women as MLAs or MPs.  The representation of women in Lok Sabha has remained more or less stagnant at a very low 9% over the years.

From BIMARU to Beti Maro

The recent release of data on religions by Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India has kicked off a debate on growth rates of religions in India. There are quite a large number of ‘experts’ who are indulging in hairsplitting analysis of behavioral/attitudinal differences towards birth control among the members practicing different religions in India.  However, most of us have failed to notice that there seems to be a common bond that unites people of India with reference to their attitude towards the girl child i.e., to kill them.

Voter Registration – Flaws and Remedies

The first phase of polling has come to an end. Times of India and other newspapers carried stories of voters being turned away from the polling booths though they had genuine photo identity cards. The people who could not vote are neither hard-core criminals in prison nor are they aliens from Mars. They are ordinary citizens of this country and yet they were denied their inalienable right to vote. The reason – their name did not figure in the voters list!

Psephological Pscripts and Pshifts

Predicting election results has become a fascinatingly hazardous business for many.  The latest elections yielded outcomes that none of the opinion polls, exit polls or even the internal party polls had predicted.  Especially the results for the Lok Sabha.  At the end of all this drama and hungama, there are two very interesting and significant points that we should keep in mind.

Revitalizing The State – Need of the Hour

The miasma of elections has enveloped us. In ordinary conversations or talk shows on the TV, the discussions invariably veer around to elections. Indian democracy continues to baffle many. A country with a predominantly illiterate population is going to polls in an electronic format, and about 725,000 indigenous electronic voting machines are in place. And yet we find it difficult to enumerate voters properly!

Role of the State in Providing Public Services

For the first time in nearly five decades, political parties are fighting the general elections almost entirely on the basis of developmental and governance issues.   It is therefore not surprising that the role of politicians and the government in providing public services became the focus of electoral debate.  This is definitely a good development and indicates the maturing of Indian political process.  At the same time, we should also understand the relative roles of the citizens and the governmental service providers.

Fair Fight is no Trite Affair

In a couple of months time, we will witness the launch of the largest sports competition in history:  Summer Olympics 2004.   Within a couple of days, India, herself, will launch the largest electoral competition in human history.  They are the General Elections 2004.

A Tribute to Excellence

Despite having one of the youngest demographic profiles of any country in the world (71 % are below 34 years), culturally we remain a geriatric society. Very rarely do we see youngsters rising to positions of prominence. They have to wait until their bosses/mentors reach their sunset years (running into 70s and 80s). Our revered elders hate to vacate their chairs even when they are losing control of all vital bodily functions. Placing the institution above the individual and planning for an orderly succession is something we are not used to.

Politics is More on Choice but Less on Variety

Here is a quiz question: What is common between eating pani puri-chaat and choosing a politician?  The answer: We may get a lot of choice but we actually get very little variety.  We can choose to eat from any one of those dozens of pani puri-chaat centers across the city.