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WITH BATED BREATH

There was an unprecedented turnout on the day of the assembly elections in Rajasthan. The voting averages were high in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. It is believed that a high voter turnout means that most people have not voted in favour of the incumbent government. If one is to speculate on that basis, it would mean that change is to be expected in all three states. This goes against the highly speculative ‘polls’ that we witnessed on television, all laced with ‘analyses’. Frankly, this time round, with a swathe of new voters, no one knows what is in store, and thus all the speculators are clearly showing their biases, leaving the viewers without any real or substantive information.

There was a time when the local and vernacular newspapers provided information to the mainline dailies about the ground realities at election time. Now, with new-fangled television probes and surveys, there seems to be a gap between the realities in the election-bound states and the speculation made from the comfort of the glass-and-chrome television studios.

The constant yelling and ridiculous haranging on news channels by the guests and spokespeople — barring on one or two shows — have made television unwatchable. This is sad because the small screen could be effectively used to bring forth the excitement of different ideas, opinions, and robust, energetic debate. Indian news channels have much to learn from others around the world.

The big question is whether India will vote for a coalition government or for a single party with a mandate to deliver. Will India fall prey to political bickering at the cabinet level in the states — which will prevent elected representatives from doing any real ground work as they struggle to keep their heads above water and save their gaddis?

Massive overhaul

Will anarchy consolidate its roots and chip away at democracy? Will India then have to fall prey to a dictatorship, and eventually have to painfully haul itself out of it? There are many interesting discussions that need to happen instead of all the unpleasant shouting on television that we are subjected to.

Soon, the results of the assembly polls in five states will be clear. There will be much self praise if the speculations turn out to be correct, and boring, babbling explanations if the projections are proved wrong. Once the results are finally declared, there will be more of high-pitched ‘analysis’, much of it simplistic and repetitive.

However, regardless of what is churned out by the media, the results will give the two national parties a sense of what could happen in the general elections and allow them some time to adjust their campaigns and political positions. The verdict in each of the states may be quite emphatic, thereby allowing the party that is ahead to fortify its lead. Will the people of India extend support to democratic stability, and extricate the country from the numerous horrors of governance it has been subjected to in recent times?

We need a rewriting of the laws that govern us. Carrying over many redundant laws into our modern democratic framework has landed the country in a mess. One of the critical areas to address is this one. We need a government that believes in brutally assessing existing laws, and acting to enable and empower transparent entrepreneurship by drawing upon the country’s abundant human resources. To ignore and neglect this mass of people is untenable and unwarranted. It is that abject neglect, the self-aggrandizement of the rulership and the intellectual ineptitude that have led the country towards the rampant corruption and anarchy we see around us. The time for an overhaul has come.