The present electioneering milieu is respite with the use of new media, and various techno-tools to reach the minds and eyeballs of as tech-savvy an audience as possible, and even to reach out to the masses of people in the hinterlands, most of whom have a handset that is capable of receiving at least a SMS. While on the one hand this might well be termed as an intrusion into the privacy of the individual, on the other hand this unprecedented use of modern technology and mobile networks, social networks and the like spells a new phase in how political communication takes place in modern times. Suman Nalwa, a serving IPS officer, writes about what matters most in Indian democracy.

As I open my facebook page, my email, my twitter or even whatsapp on my phone, there is one thing common in all of them, and it is not just the friend-list but the unprecedented voicing of governance issues and opinions to political cartoons, jokes, satires and links to all the dirt and muck our investigative journalists could dig up. In this scenario I do think that the 2014 elections are indeed a watershed event not only in the use of technology and social media by the political parties for disseminating their messages and their stand, but more importantly in giving a platform to all of us to voice our own concerns and opinions. At one extreme we had total disillusionment and hopelessness of the situation, and on flip side there is hope of good governance and overhauling the system with many in the middle having a rather lackadaisical approach.

As the media invades our homes with its expert panels, breaking news, scams, vitriolic speeches, allegations and counter allegations of biased reporting with political alignment, it still looks like all is not lost with many of us queuing up to cast our votes and proudly brandishing the black mark on our finger. However, as I look beyond the educated net-savvy cosmopolitan middle class, I realise how we as a nation are politically bifurcated at religious, caste and regional levels that nation building, national pride and development becomes a non issue for most. As the political parties woo us by exploiting our religious affiliations through orchestrated riots creating deep frictions, as we fall prey to caste based voting patterns because even after six decades since independence we have not been able to bridge the social and economic divide, as we bow to the histrionics of hate on internal immigrants sharing our state resources, we do not once stop to think what we need as a nation and why our youth goes without jobs, why the GDP falls, and why we remain a third world nation happy to be a few notches above our biggest rival, Pakistan.

Politics in today’s time is thus no more than a vehicle for personal agendas under the veneer of national upliftment. Indian politics is no longer a democratic or secular vehicle it was envisioned to be, it is driven by the isolation of vote banks and all the efforts are put into devising methods to acquire the all-important political power and thereby achieve the politically desired results. The executive, political and bureaucratic bodies are so intertwined that they do not take effective steps to make any constructive change for the nation. Every political party starts with a rhetoric of idealism but eventually ends up being a power hogging mongrel, and this is the sad demise of statesmanship and good governance. In this situation, rarely are even the most promising of the leaders able to compose an agenda for the nation and not for a class, i.e., targeting what the nation truly needs to reach any place on the world stage. We try to compare ourselves with China, but we are still eons behind them. Where they have reached today, it took them close to four decades of highly consolidated efforts at every segment of nation building, and along the way they took all the necessary measures to root out corruption and focus on development. Not just China, take any country in today’s time or any time for that matter, irrelevant of their size they have made significant progress only when the entire nation worked towards it, and each of these efforts required great and well thought out policies by real leaders who took the reins of their economies, outlined the required mandates, and got the nation to follow it, and thus did they succeed in taking their nations to greater heights.

So it’s high time that we ourselves unite and start thinking as a nation and start throwing out sectarian viewsfrom our crania. This is the best opportunity for us to reject those who cannot get past filling their coffers, and rather than securing their families net worth, work on making India a more worthwhile place to live in because WE MATTER. Politics is after all a science and not a convoluted art or a platform for personal vendetta and personal agenda for today’s leaders. When we secure our nation, our home becomes secure by itself.

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