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The Apolitical Indian

The Apolitical Indian

March 23, 2010

A new low for Indian politics last week, but do we really care what’s happening out there anymore?

Last week saw Indian politics touch a new low (difficult you might think!). Mayawati, the Chief Minister of India’s largest and poorest state, Uttar Pradesh, was felicitated at a party rally with a massive garland made of 1000 rupee notes, which media reports suggested totaled tens of millions of rupees. In a state where this money could have been better utilized to fund chronic malnutrition and widespread unemployment, this was ironically Maya’s way of showcasing empowerment.

But as if that weren’t enough, the ‘Dalit Queen’, after public criticism regarding her vulgar display of wealth, was seen the very next day accepting yet another rupee wreath in a show of defiance! And then, upset over the bad publicity, she promptly went ahead and sacked her media chief for mismanaging the whole controversy. But lost amid all this media furore was another more shocking incident – the tragic death of a woman who was allegedly set ablaze by an MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly), who is now reported to be missing, from the same state.

Two outrageous events all in the span of one week, now already fizzling out of public memory and media coverage.  Welcome to the world’s largest democracy, where no political bombshell is big enough to shake us out of our slumber, where nothing is worth more than two shrugs of disbelief. Not a word of dissent, not a single march in protest! What for most people in the civilized world would be acts of despotism, we digest day in and day out as commonplace incidents. To be watched on TV and then forgotten about the next day. We couldn’t care less what is happening out there until one fine day we become the prey.

Who is to blame for this indifference? This complete estrangement from political activism? It surprises me that at a time when there is such public outrage here in Britain over something as relatively minor as the expenses scandal (in India petty theft by the netalog is a God-given birthright, hence minor), we in India continue to be so apolitical, so disinterested in what is happening around us despite the more gruesome nature of our problems. Why can’t we hold our leaders accountable for their misconducts like MPs are confronted here in Britain?

I guess it is to a large extent a case of being habituated to corrupt politicians and criminals. 150 out of the 541 MPs in our current parliament have criminal cases pending against them, with 72 of them having serious charges according to National Election Watch. And things aren’t getting any better – the figures have only increased since 2004. No shocker, then, that we don’t give a damn – such behavior is expected anyways! And our callousness is further worsened by the hammer and tong approach used by the media, where because of the overdose of scandal and scam we have, over the years, been immunized to such stuff.

This political apathy is going to cost us heavily one day. Usually most cynical in our views about the ‘system’ it is us, the affluent middle classes, who display the gravest lack of concern while engaging in the political process. All our scorn could probably be put to better use in coming out and voting during the elections when we are busy warming our asses in front of the fireplace. Until we do that, we deserve what we get!


  • Sapna
    29.06.10 02:16 PM
    @Nalini: Can't agree more
  • Mukul Gupta
    Mukul Gupta
    07.04.10 12:23 AM
    The Election commission with our Indian Voters are responsible for all this mess.. EC does not guide people that they have a right not to Vote for any1 and if majority of votes are caste in this fasion than the Contenders can never stand for any election( I hope this happens one day and this day will be when India can proudly be called DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY- We will become superpower very soon after this day)

    People : After 5 years of atrocities the complete anger of the poor India vanishes with Rs 100 note ( Rs 500 - mehangai hain ab) and a whiskey bottle can do wonders the previous day of election ... while the educated feel proud to sleep and stay away from elections... ( sab ek jesse hi kya kare Vote dal kar)
    This is Political India and not Democratic India
  • Barnaby Haszard Morris
    Barnaby Haszard Morris
    02.04.10 05:47 PM
    But Sajni, does the fact that there is arguably deeper and even more supercilious corruption in other countries mean that India should accept its transgressing politicians?

    Your words strike me as a perfect example of what Nikhil is talking about, and the sort of attitude that needs to change if India is to develop in a healthy and holistic way.
  • Sajni
    27.03.10 10:18 PM
    Even in US and UK there is a lot of corruption, it is just at the higher level - so we must take that also into account. With regards to cynicism in the Indian middle class - what else can they be when for 60 years after independence things havent changed?
  • Nalini Hebbar
    Nalini Hebbar
    23.03.10 10:45 AM
    We as a nation have a long way to go...protests come only after the basic needs are met...sad but true!...80% of us are so poor and the rest, 20%, is busy working on getting richer!!!

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