A debate took place amongst four candidates in Bangalore South. Mr.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament, in his blog
www.rajeev.in/blog calls this the "changing nature of Indian
politics". I saw a plane fly high in the sky last night, and I
suppose we can ignore all our roads now, since this could very well be
the changing nature of transportation in India.
It appears as though Bangalore South is suddenly into a new fashion -
political debate. It also appears as though the mix of people in this
debate is a fairly homogeneous one. It does not appear, however, that
this model can be replicated elsewhere in the country or across the
country, simply because we have too many different languages and a
vastly diverse culture of communication and very different ideas of
what makes India.
There are thousands of migratory workers from Maharashtra and Bihar
working in the fields in Tamilnadu, now that the sugarcane harvest is
on. I would be curious to know whether any of them would even know
what a debate is, and if they would care about any issues being
debated upon by a bunch of urban literates. I wonder if they even
know their representatives from their home constituencies. But if
they didn't do their jobs, we wouldn't have much of a sugar output
this year. Absolutely nothing will come out of a bunch of
Bangaloreans debating the future of the nation, for they won't
implement anything they debated upon.
That's what is unique about India - the people who have all the great
ideas don't have much of an impact upon the way things are done on the
ground, until their ideas percolate all the way down to
implementation. The ideas at the top come from people who don't have
a clue on how things are at the bottom. The people at the bottom
don't have much to choose from and do not have an expectation of a
great India - they just want to get by.
The reason we cannot have a debate like the American presidential
debate is because no two leaders represent anything close to the
aspirations of the Average Indian. There is no Average Indian since
people living in Rameswaram have issues totally different from those
living in Assam. It is a great thing that India is holding together
despite our enormous diversity in culture, concerns, language,
abilities, food and outlook on life. But the truth is, we love the
idea of India and that India does not have to be anything other than
this confusing mess.
It is fashionable for the urban literate to think they can model our
country like something they have in their heads. The reality is that
no matter how much anyone tries, the whole of India is not easy to
grasp in one lifetime. Urban literates have the time to discuss
ideas, while the migratory worker, the fisherman, the farmer and the
train driver keep this country running. Urban literates can afford to
go to www.nocriminals.org and talk about real snakes getting tickets
and make noises about "no criminals"! But the real India doesn't
quite stay glued into these vanity visionaries. The snakes amongst
them will come to power, no matter what, for it is the snakes that can
feast upon the helplessness of the rural masses.
We haven't empowered the majority of India, and we will continue to
reap the rich harvest of ignorance. We will have chief ministers of
individual states refusing to accept that the chief of the LTTE is a
terrorist, while the nation's policy clearly defines him as such. We
have no cohesive "Indian" thought process that applies to the whole of
India. Indeed we can do very well without a sanitized homogenity, but
we can have no national debate until the worlds we live in can have
some common ground. An educated South Indian does not live in the
same world as an uneducated rural criminal politician from Bihar.
The ONLY thing that can hold the fabric of India together is economic
opportunity. As long as there is a reasonably good chance of most
Indians making their lives better, we don't have to question status
quo. There is no magic, no silver bullet, that will cure this country
of all ills, but we can do with a pill that can wake up our urban
educated and get them to think beyond their sterilized, protected
existences, their cute notions of how their debates and civilized
exchanges can actually do something to change the reality of the
underserved, underutilized, ignored, eroding India.
The most important question still begs to be asked - how many Indian
candidates trying to get votes actually have a brain that can process
a fair amount of information, that can make sense out of chaotic
issues that beseige us, come forward with confidence and participate
in a debate that is interesting, engaging and useful at the end? If
the figure crosses zero for any geographical area, we would be