“If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;”
1.They never know which station is on which side
2. They get on a 8.17 Fast and ask “Aaj bheed zzyada hai na?”
3. Their bags are on their backs and not on their front, baby carrying style
4.They get paranoid about not being able to get down
5.They never get off or on to a moving train
Well folks, that’s it for this time. Sorry if this post didn’t live up to your expectations, a better one shall be up next week.
The Supreme Court of India has in the past few decades notoriously acquired a name for being extremely active in the functioning of the nation. What we today label as “judicial activism” has become a norm for the apex court of our country. May it be creating guidelines or law of the land via judicial pronouncements or criticising (or as critics put it, ‘interfering’) with the functioning of the executive, the top court of our nation has become a rather overbearing guardian of the citizenry which seeks its doors for justice. Last year, in one of its yet another “landmark judgments”, the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission of India to provide the “none of the above” or NOTA option to voters. In a PIL filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, the question brought up in front of a three member bench of the apex court was whether a voter’s decision to not cast a vote, which subsequently resulted in the voter’s identity being specially noted by the Presiding officer, was violative of the norm of a secret ballot and whether this violated article 19 of the Constitution of India.
Ever since its implementation, NOTA has seen almost minimal usage. The average exercise of the NOTA has been roughly 4% per constituency(As reported in The Mint at http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/b6ZPsuUYS2G3fWR2KItpaJ/Is-NOTA-serving-any-purpose.html ). This coupled, with the fact that NOTA does not entail a empowering right to recall or right to reject, has led to a plethora of criticism and ridicule being directed in the direction of this rather forward looking step. This stems from a popular example that is widely used across the media:
“Even if 90 voters in an electorate of 100 persons press the NOTA button, the poll will be decided in favour of the candidate who gets the maximum of the remaining 10 votes”
Here’s why I believe that NOTA is actually not a huge waste but to the contrary an extremely vital requirement in a democracy as varied as ours. Firstly, I want to discard the over exaggerated example right away by drawing a simple parallel to a holistic and realistic outlook. Most of India’s electorate holds a certain opinion about politicians which maybe be crudely worded in the Hindi phrase “sab chor hain” . Despite this, almost everyone prefers a particular party, candidate or ideology over the other. At ground reality, there is hardly anyone who wishes to take his or her cynicism to extreme levels of deciding to not have any candidate rather than choosing from what is available. This is clearly reflected in the above mentioned statistics. But the essential point that needs to be addressed is that as a democracy, we need to give voice to each distinctive opinion, however small its number maybe. Earlier the procedure to “not vote” was governed by section 49(O) of the Representation of People Act which infringed upon a voter’s right to cast his vote anonymously or as popularly called, the secret ballot process was not being extended to its entirety as a certain number of voters were forced to disclose their identity and more importantly, the political opinion associated with the aforementioned identity. The introduction of the NOTA has solved this crucial problem.
Secondly, we can gauge the importance of the NOTA from the vehement opposition offered by the State to its introduction. “The government had probably sensed the potential of the proposal being upgraded to a ‘right to reject’ all candidates in the future, which would invalidate any election where the negative voting option has been exercised in over 50% cases,” a former bureaucrat pointed out when the government’s legal resistance had become public. The Supreme Court of India has constantly been liberal in interpreting the laws of this nation and has truly upheld its duty as guardian of the Constitution. The fact that NOTA is a part of a voter’s choice has led to calls for stronger options such as right to reject or right to recall, whose feasibility I admit, is still under debate, but the rather important caveat is the legitimatization of the debate and the increased realistic expectation of achieving it.
Lastly, I would like to address the idealistic aspect. The NOTA, like many things in this nation, is an idealistic and symbolic gesture. The entire purpose of this option is not to waste election funds or give leeway for anarchy or express cynicism. It is simply a way by which a voter can express his discontent at the candidates from his or her constituency in a manner that ensures anonymity and protects his or her identity. There maybe multiple reasons apart from the one mentioned here for a voter to exercise NOTA. One of my friends recently exercised the NOTA because the only acceptable candidate from his constituency belonged to a party which he believed wasn’t ready for participating in governance at the central level. NOTA provides the Indian electorate to express its political views in a more precise manner by essentially granting them the much needed abstention option along with the traditional choices between A and B.
Maybe it is time for the world’s largest democracy to regard the election process with optimistic idealism rather than crude cynicism which in the end, never serves a purpose.
People this is the eighth post of a new weekly series called “Saturday Top 5”. I guess the title is self explanatory and anyway,
it shall be on a pilot basis due to a great response,this will be a regular series . Here’s the last post of the series(LINK).Please leave your feedback about the idea and suggestions as well for the next post in the series
For a first year, law school can be an overwhelming experience at first. The unfamiliar new terrain full of endless possibilities with high benchmarks set by the senior batches both inspire and intimidate us. However, in the midst of this all, all of us start hearing stories. We hear tales of a particular senior invading the fairer sex’s hostel; we hear tales of a certain batch being the geekiest batch the college has; we hear tales of how a particular party went CRAZY and we also hear tales of Profs. Failing students to rejoice at their misery. However, the problem is that, only a few of them are true, and the ones that are actually true, are glaringly obvious. They become a “cliché” as per se, and here I present to you, the top 5 clichés a first year student at NLU Delhi sees, hears or experiences.
1. Tales of the IMS being a bloodbath
By the time you pass out from NLUD, the number of world wars in your history books increases to 7. The first two and then the 5 Internal Moot Selections one goes through. I haven’t had the supposed misfortune of experiencing one but as most seniors put it, it is going to be a “blood bath”
2. Everyone has a “caught with guava juice” story
Every senior you bump into has had one or more incident(s) where he or she has been caught, to put delicately, in a state one reaches after excessive consumption of “guava juice”. Dislocated shoulders, chairs stolen from Judicial hostels, they never seem to end.
3. Dominos on Wednesday
Yeah we are as rich as Richie Rich but all of us love to exploit the Buy One get One free offer. Proof, the Dominos delivery guy who is seen standing right outside the main gate,almost all the time on Wednesday.
4. The Gande Joke Guy from every batch
Each batch has that one person who will crack jokes which will make you demand death and an escape from this world just to get away from such sadness. For example, shouting “Room ka lock nahin mila toh Hobbes laga doh”
NOTE:I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT claim any responsibility for any actions carried out on you for narrating this joke to anyone including being thrown in the toilet for 20 minutes.
5.The involved in everything guy
From DPRP to Debating, from Legal Aid to late night philosophy lectures, every batch has that one guy who will do everything the college has to offer. Acad leaves are his pals and extra classes on Saturday are his bitch. He’ll know about everything that’s happening except the name of the Act the Prof. is discussing in class.
With the Lok Sabha elections announced for next month, the political arena is heating up as each moment passes and frankly, all that has resulted is a mesh of accusations, assumptions, inane policy predictions and the unique “I may not be right but he is wrong” culture seen only in Indian politics. If you don’t believe me, just look at the options you have in front of you and you’ll be left flummoxed.
First, we have Mr. Modi, incumbent chief minister of Gujarat and the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party who to his credit has the state of Gujarat to showcase, having run the state for 12 years straight now, loosely based on the ideals of the economist Bhagwati. Charismatic and a powerful orator who connects easily with the grass root voters of the country, Modi has his own anchors pulling him down. These include, but are not limited to the Godhra riots and the Ishrat Jahan case. Now I am sure that there are those amongst you who on reading the above statement begun shouting, “Modi bhai ko SIT ne clean chit diya.” The very fact that members of his Council of Ministers were indicted for crimes (for those who are unaware, I refer to the infamous conviction of Maya Kodnani), is enough to suggest his compliance in the acts. I refuse to believe that he had no idea what they were doing or that he had not authorised those actions. Moreover, if it is true that the massacre happened without him giving the go ahead for these horrendous actions, I have reservations making him the leader of our nation. A man who cannot control his own cabinet at the state level should absolutely not be allowed to take charge at the national level.
Moving on to our second candidate, the scion of the Gandhi family, or as he calls himself, “the outsider to the system who was forced into politics”, Rahul Gandhi. He has been a member of the Lok Sabha from the constituency of Amethi since 2004 and has held important posts in the Indian National Congress (INC), with his recent elevation to Vice-President being a key indicator to his importance in the upcoming elections. Although the INC has not declared him to be the official Prime Ministerial candidate (they choose to stick behind a new argument the party deems appropriate – a political party is no one to announce a PM candidate, the elected MPs shall wisely and democratically choose one. A nice argument which holds up in theory but clearly fails in practical application), many senior members of the party have already declared that they would be happy to see him as the PM. Considering the announcement by our incumbent Dr. Manmohan Singh deciding not to run for his position in the upcoming term, indicators point towards Rahul Gandhi leading the nation if the Congress and its allies come to power. Now here is the major problem which troubles me. A few months ago, I researched our honourable MP and came up with some startling statistics. Apart from being a member of the Lok Sabha, he has no major victory to his credit. He has not held a berth in the Council of Ministers. He has a shabby record of 41% attendance when compared to the average of 77% attendance put in by our legislators. He has barely asked any questions during the UPA-II term i.e. 2009-present. In fact, this is a polite understatement as the number stands at zero compared to an average of 235 per lawmaker. This coupled with his recent interview with the nation’s second PM (Arnab Goswami, of course) where he spoke about his views on everything except women empowerment and how the Congress brought in RTI (or was it the other way around?) results in a worrisome situation for our nation if he is chosen to lead the nation. I give him that he seems earnest and innocent but he seems to forget that it is his own party that he badly needs to fix to gain the good side of the populace.
The third choice for the nation is the ex-Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal. With a vow to contest over 300 seats, the Aam Aadmi Party is now a reasonable contender in what now seems to be a Fatal Four-way. Using an anti-corruption motto as their ideal, the AAP started off as the underdog but the acts of their government in the short 49 day stint have been brought under question, especially by a major segment of the ‘middle class’, one of their targeted vote banks. It would be interesting to see how Mr. Kejriwal and his party fare in the next Lok Sabha. We may look forward to all-night-dharnas in the Parliament well.
The next and probably the last available alternative is the recently announced ‘federal front’ which consists of regional political parties such as SP, JD(U), JD(S), AIADMK and the Left. A motley gang of big-shots in individual states, this alliance currently commands a respectable number of seats in the Parliament and thus forms a clear alternative. However the issue becomes clear when we consider the Cabinet and the Prime Ministerial crown itself. Each party stalwart has professed ambitions for the top post but given the fact that it is a position which can only be held by one of them, choosing numero uno would be a mess. It is not that we haven’t seen this in the past. Each federal front government has collapsed without completing its term, and frankly, stability is something this country needs in its governance.
|Election Candidates for 2014|
So where does this leave us? Each option has its own pros and cons, but at the end of the day the decision we have to make is far more monumental than choosing from a list on a yellow legal pad. One may argue that choosing an option with maximum pros and minimum cons will be a brilliant solution. But this leaves us in a scenario where the elected head of the government is someone whom we is merely the ‘best of the worst’ while a far more desirable result remains unattainable. 2014 is going to be a major test for this nation. I end this article by repeating something that a previous article emphasized on. Whatever you do, please do vote. It matters, it counts.