The Day Coffee Wasn’t Bought


Standing on a balcony is never a boring endeavour. I stood, in what people say is my usual pose while having coffee, with both my elbows on the ledge, the left hand propping up my head while being balled into a fist, and the fingers of my right, curled around a cup, leaning against the wall of the cemented barrier between me and the sky. I always enjoyed these moments. Regardless of the world’s reprehensible mood swings of inflicting insufferable weather, this was an act, which never lost its charm. Today, particularly, was a warm, cosy day on the verge of turning gloomy. I always found the beauty of nature in change. Think about it. That moment when evening perks into the night or when the night finally makes way for the day. Dusk and Dawn. Twilight. The beginning of a rain shower on a sunny day or the emergence of the sun after one. The view from my balcony was not worthy of inspiration though. It looked out towards the parking lot of an apartment building that opened onto a closed street, and even on the most exciting of days; failed to evoke an inspiration in Hemmingway’s soul. Don’t get me wrong; it was a quaint, nice view, but nothing worth the ink it would consume on paper. The best thing about it probably would be the view of the open sky, which never fascinated me. Isn’t it the same old sky everywhere? Sure, the clouds and their patterns are different, but essentially it is the same, isn’t it?
The smoke rings curled up, and disappeared, as things always did. I smiled as I saw the source. A couple was standing in the middle of the garden slightly to the left of the building, making something that would barely pass as a bonfire. They waved, and I waved back, and immediately forgot about it. I returned to my musings, and sipped my coffee. Perhaps it is the aroma, or the caffeine itself rather than the aroma of exotic Java Chip coffee, that made me notice her. A girl, barely 14 years past her first word, was walking across the dull, parking lot. I was immediately bewildered, and I couldn’t place the source for it. In an instant, my mind made way for my brain, and the rowdy game of analysis began. The brain is an insane computing machine. I do not necessarily mean that in a good way. At its whims, it can process thousands of different information pieces in less than a second, and at times, it struggles to comprehend even a singular piece of data.  For now, it was struggling to trace my bewilderment. Was it the girl? No, a girl walking across the parking lot is hardly bewildering. Her age? Definitely not, given that my brain already knew that the apartments in this street were mostly residential apartments meant for families or married couples. Accounting for a total of 822 apartments and an average of 3 people in each, a healthy figure of around 2500 is reached, and it is hardly a shocking occurrence to see a girl in her early mid-teens in a group as diverse as 2500 people. Suddenly, it hit me. The bewilderment presented itself not because of anything off about the girl, or the location, or the environment of the occurrence, but rather myself. I was bewildered by the fact that I had noticed the young girl.
Curious, I observed the girl. She continued walking across the parking lot, when suddenly, she stopped. She quickly slipped a hand inside her jeans pocket and fiddled for a bit, before extracting her mobile phone. If I had to guess, she received a call, as she proceeded to go stand by a car, slightly leaning on it, while she answered the call. Clearly, she knew the person, as her immediate answer and slight smile on her face betrayed, and she clearly wasn’t expecting to hear what she heard as she suddenly fell to her knees. The suddenness of the act was debateable as from where I stood, and from the observation I made keenly, I detected a hint of wobbling in her knees as the call progressed which progressed into a literal knock from an invisible hand, not the one Adam Smith spoke of, though both had the same effect viz. knocking out the very props that kept something up, albeit in a correcting manner. As the economy corrected itself, she answered while on her knees, crying. Again, it was perspective that mattered, as for an average passer-by, it could have easily been the pain of hard yet soft knee caps bumping on the cemented road, but only an observer who had insights into the moments leading up to the incident, or even had seen the girl in the moments preceding it, could swear that the first tear drop hit the ground before the girl’s knees did.
The teardrops never stopped, as the girl’s voice cracked, for she was wailing, and in a moment, her persona had changed. No longer was she an average person walking down the road, with an air of careful dressing up, slight cheerfulness and purposefulness. No, she had suddenly become one with the wild climate, as her hair turned slightly frizzy and her face betrayed the darker spots. Maybe it was the light playing its games, I would never know, for that very moment, her tears disappeared into the sudden outburst of rain. The moment was rich with clichés and ironies as the girl sat on the cemented ground, on her knees, one hand holding the phone to her ear, trembling all this while, as the other ventured through her hair, grasping at nothing, venting for a frustration that was still born. The wailing of the heavens brought her to her senses, as a strong wind buffeted against her face, and the rain splashed against her. She quickly pulled the hood of her jacket over her head, and made a dash towards the entrance of the apartment building, but all this while, one of her hand remained on the phone, and the phone on the ear, as if glued together by the conversation she was having. She disappeared into the lobby, and that was the last I ever saw of her.
It has been 4 years since I went back. 4 surprisingly long years since I saw home. That was always the last thought I had before I fell asleep. Always. Every day, for the past 4 years. Something had always come up. Work, travel, engagements, something. It was an unfortunate thing, but just like all other things human, and all other things unfortunate, couldn’t be helped. It just had to be dealt with. It was an odd feeling, the longing to be back home. It gnaws at your insides, but soon morphs into an itch that just stays. The year was 2004, and mobile phones had just gained immense traction. Only last week, I purchased one and had performed my weekly ritual. Every Friday, as soon as the sunset, I would walk out of the apartment and approach the nearest calling booth. 326 steps was the distance I remember, because I remember each step, each pace, with each beat of my heart. The mechanical art of dialling the number which magically connected me to someone thousands of miles away, was dull, yet I suppose, when the ends matter more than the means, the means gain a charm themselves. The conversation was never anything special, a casual conversation with my parents, just as the one you have at the end of the day, when you get back home. The only difference was that our day lasted seven days, and of course, the distance factored in, but the love, the magic, remained the same.
Sundays were always hard for me. Waking up alone, in a place that is not your own, neither in terms of belongingness nor in terms of how much at home you felt, nor in terms of the familiarity that hung in the air, nor the awkward silence when you woke up in a room with shut windows. One would expect to find peace and tranquillity in silence, but I found chaos. Mad, pathetic chaos. The mind is a strange tool in that regard. A perfectly normal, silent moment can be the worst situation your mind can be in. Over the eons, the greatest minds of the human civilization have postulated that mankind seeks order from chaos. The implied underlying statement is that chaos exists, and has to be cleared. It has to be fought, it has to be tamed, it has to be handled, it has to be undermined, it has to be won over, it has to be defeated, it has to be lost to. But all in all, it exists, and therefore is. Therefore, I was slightly taken aback, albeit in a good way, when I woke up on 7th November 2004, not to the chaos of thoughts and everything hence, but rather the order of silence. A smile adorned my face as I woke up and splashed some warm water on my face, and looked at myself in the mirror, and the image of my ghost stared back. I was past the point when my haggard look shocked me. But for some reason, it made me realise how people are. Each human being is different, and reacts to different actions in different ways. We are a culmination of each moment of our life, and ergo, since it is impossible for two humans to have exactly the same moments for the entire life, each human is different. Yet, for a reason that I never understood, we seek to establish uniformity. We want people to be the same. It is a constant battle actually. Everyone should be dressed in the same fashion, according to what is the latest fashion trend, yet the latest fashion trend has to be different. We want everyone to behave in a set manner, governed by rules of the society and etiquettes and categories, yet each one is encouraged to be individualistic. The very idea is self-contradictory in itself, yet our world loves to engage perpetually in this insane chase.
I walked over to my kitchen, to make my usual cup of coffee. Yes, I was a coffee person, and it was what started my morning. I opened the cupboard and saw an empty jar, and for the second time in two days, I realised I have run out of coffee. Determined to not ruin my Sunday ritual, I decided to quickly head down the road and purchase my drug. A quick look outside the window, and the slight cool breeze made me grab my jacket from the back of my chair as I quickly dashed down the stairs. As I exited the building, I saw a couple standing at the back of their car, unloading groceries from the trunk on to the floor of the parking lot. They noticed me and waved, and I waved back, and immediately forgot about it. Today was a good day. Sunny, slight breeze, actually the perfect amount. Cold enough to warrant a jacket, yet warm enough to not zip the jacket up. I hummed a song as I walked, feeling the sun getting heavier on my head as I started perspiring. Abruptly, I stopped as my phone rang. It was my mother. The smile on my face grew wider, as I slowly leaned by a red car, with just the slightest apprehension at the unexpected call. The cold, broken hearted voice which came through could not have been my mother’s as no mother can ever say her son’s name, and make him feel dead. Yet that voice did. My name is barely two syllables, but those two were enough to break me. I asked her what’s wrong, and all she could do was cry. The sound wrecks you. It always does. I felt my legs begin to lose the strength to stand as she spoke. I couldn’t process a lot, but I understood what she said, and with each moment, my face drained away the red liquid, which keeps us alive. Sudden cardiac arrest is what they called it. He was barely 55. He calmly finished his tea, she told me, and suddenly his left hand clutched his chest and he fell on the bed. In my head, he fell with a grace that I had associated with him in the 23 years of my existence. In reality, he had lost all sense of grace or etiquette or any other human social construct. Hell, he lost his motor skills, and drool pooled over next to his face, as the odour of urine arose, mixed with something else that my mother couldn’t discern. It took 3 more years, and another encounter with death to gauge the quaint, horrifying scent of death. Without me realising it, my legs had given up, and I was on the ground, on my knees. The rough concrete scuffed through the jeans and hurt my flesh, but the tears in my eyes were not a result of exterior pain. I am an atheist, yet my creator was dead today, simply snatched away from me, without as much as a farewell. A sudden splash of water on my back made me turn and I realised the sprinklers had been switched on in the park, and I was on my knees, in a drizzle meant to invigorate life, yet life is what I felt leaving my body.
I don’t know how long I was there. The phone had long slipped my hand and fell on the concrete ground, exposed to the elements. A decade later, or perhaps, a second later, I tried to stand up, but I couldn’t. I tried again, and was successful, albeit a bit shaky on my feet. I craned my neck and looked towards the sun. The blinding light of the sun directly in my eye was disorienting, but as I saw the building directly beneath the sun, I swear I saw a girl, barely 14 years past her first word, nod at me, with a cup in her hand and a sad smile on her face. I nodded back and headed my way. Needless to say, coffee wasn’t bought that day.


To Be or not…Just Be

Somehow, inspiration is easily crushed. The human brain, for some reason, has a tendency to not let the euphoric feeling of inspiration last, and the crude pull of reality steps in. But here’s the thing. Often, reality, and when I say that, I refer to the scenario imagined by your mind based on your experiences as a human, in all probability, comes out as a negative push. Should I think about applying for that job? No, my grades are too low. Should I tell that girl that I am attracted to her and would love to spend an evening with her by the riverside, lying on the grass, staring at the sky? No, she’ll think I am insane. I feel like humming the tune of that song that has been stuck in my head, singing it at the top of my voice and doing a little dance with it. Should I? No, people will stare and think I have lost it.
This is a common experience for all of us, isn’t it? Not doing things, or doing things, based on a perception we have built up in our head over ages. Our experiences, our interactions, what we read, what we watch, what we hear, what we see, everything around us culminates into that moment of truth when you take decisions. The banality, or at the other hand of the spectrum, the importance of the decision, doesn’t matter. The simple choices of life too, are influenced by this. Now, the point I am trying to make is best put in one of the most profound lines by Rudyard Kypling in his masterful work, If

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;”

The thing about life is that it is unpredictable. All your intuitions, knowledge, wisdom etc. can fail in the crucial of times, and equally be valid at the same time. In each of the scenarios I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, the polar opposite results were possible with equal probability. Unfortunately, the human brain, on occasions more often not, tends to favour the probability of things going wrong. Let me explain. The brain operates on logic, reasoning and syllogism-like thinking. If something has the potential to make us either happy or sad, our mind would logically opt to not do it, and give proof to the adage “prevention is better than cure” i.e. the mind works in a way to prevent us from being hurt or saddened, rather than risk the possibility of letting that happen. However, in the process, the mind, and by definition, we ourselves, shut off numerous experiences, which could have possibly made us happy. We as human beings want certainty, and not probability. We will do something only if it is beneficial to us. By beneficial, I do not wish to restrict the definition. Anything that inspires a positive emotion in us maybe. Makes us happy, makes us joyous, makes us feel satisfied, brings a smile to our face, makes us jump in the air, makes us…feel good. Here’s the problem. You feel with your heart. Yes, even you science nerds who dismiss emotions and feelings as nothing but a reaction inspired by chemicals acting in our body, emotions, experiences etc. are felt. The logical fallacy in our lives is that we think before we feel. The heart feels, not thinks. The mind thinks, not feels.
At the outset, the status quo seems to be perfect. Feel, but think about it as well. Think, but feel about it as well. Fall in love, but maybe not with a murderer. Take up that high-paying job, but maybe not if you hate the field of work. I suppose, it is the best of both worlds. But in that pursuit, we are missing out on the extremes of each side. Pure, cold, thinking. Pure, uninhibited, unhindered-by-thought feeling. How many times have you done something purely instinctively, based on that gut feeling, or just because you felt like it? Hug that person standing on the road with a sad look on their face. Make conversation with that interesting looking person with the same cup of coffee as yours. How many times have you divorced feeling from a decision and simply made a choice only on thinking and rationality, devoid of all feelings? Take the shorter route because you need to be on time, despite the longer route having a view you like. Point out the mistake made by a friend bluntly because it is a major blunder.
If you’re like me, or any average human being (I like to believe I am both, average, and a human being), these decisions are either rare, or unchartered territory for you. The brain has an uncanny ability to exhibit its superiority. Evolution has made us into beings who strongly depend on the powerful brain, the same, complex organ, whose power and sheer capabilities set us apart from all other species on earth. Think about this for a minute. How frequently do you subject an emotion or a feeling to the processes of intellectual rigour? The frequency is so high; it is almost second nature for us to think our feelings through. The opposite on the other hand, is a less frequent occurrence i.e. subjecting our thoughts to the test of feeling. It does happen, in extreme situations, but rarely overall.

Ergo, the point I am trying to make is that maybe it is time for us to let our heart think and let our minds feel. The ends of each spectrum, feeling and thinking, have undiscovered wonders waiting, and it is high time we access them. Unshackling the shackles and flying has for long been a fantasy that all of us have burned into our neurons. Ever thought why is it just a fantasy? It is worth a try isn’t it? I am no one to judge or to tell anyone how to do things, but perhaps, it is my mind taking over my heart here, so I’ll just stop and say this. Do what your heart says, it knows what it wants, and you deserve every bit of it.

What if I fall? What if you fly?

Top 5 Ways To Distinguish Non-Mumbaikars on Locals

Hey people! This is the ninth 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

Mumbai locals are the lifeline of this magnificent city. No one can survive without them. But unlike most other things in the city, the Mumbai Locals are less accepting then this overflowing pot of mixing culture. You see, there are multiple unspoken rules and regulations which are too sacred to be broken. Yet some people do it daily. We call them Non-Mumbaikars because it is simply impossible for a Mumbaikar to not know these things. So call them Dilli ke launde or too cool for the humidity Bangaloreans, sorry Bengalurueans, I point out 5 ways to catch these odd ones out in the pool.

1.They never know which station is on which side

Dead giveaway. A Mumbaikar always knows which station is on which side and accordingly plans his relative position inside the compartment. I mean which idiot will get on a train at Goregaon during peak hours and then try to reach the seats, knowing that he or she has to get down at Andheri? Hint: The idiot calls Pani puri “Gol Gappe” and complains about humidity.

2. They get on a 8.17 Fast and ask “Aaj bheed zzyada hai na?”

Yes. These people exist. They climb aboard a 8:17 Virar Fast and ask in slightly suffocated(trust me, given the sweaty armpits, the awkward Statue of Liberty like positions and the desperate scramble for holding on to anything while the train moves, “slightly” is a blessing) “Aaj bheed zzyada hai na?”. Only a non-Mumbaikar is capable of this. This and trying to get off at Andheri on a Virar Fast.

3. Their bags are on their backs and not on their front, baby carrying style

Who doesn’t do this? Everyone knows that bags on front is the most efficient way of protecting your valuables from getting damaged or stolen. Plus you can use them as battering rams when you bulldoze through the crowd to scramble on to the train. This point does come with a caveat though. I like to call it the ” Experienced Uncle Variable”. A passenger may carry his backpack on his back if his EUV value is over 20 according to the following formula:
EUV= (Number of stations traveled daily X Number of years of regular local use)/The class of your compartment

For example a person who has been commuting from Kandivali to Andheri for the past 10 years in a second class compartment has an EUV of 25( 5*10/2). So this guy can carry a bag on his back, he has earned it over the years. I bet he’ll have train buddies on his usual train and route who’ll actually even pull him,and his bag in.

4.They get paranoid about not being able to get down

If these poor souls somehow manage to get on the train,they somehow are paranoid about not being able to get down.They start sweating and panicking on seeing the crowd.They start chanting prayers and curses,both with equal fervour. A true Bambai wala never bothers with all this. He puts on his earphones,awkardly paws around for his phone in his pocket,desperately trying to not touch the person around him’s ass, but never sweats about not being able to get down. Abbey funda simple hai. One station before you get down,ask the guy in front of you if he’ll get down at that particular station or not. If he isn’t, just push ahead towards the door bro! If he is,do it anyway 😛

5.They never get off or on to a moving train

Lastly, one of the key differences. Non Mumbaikars are absolutely terrified of getting or off a moving train. Absolutely petrified. “Pagal hai kya!” is their reaction.They wait for the train to come to a complete hault while the entire compartment pushes past them and get off. In fact by the time the train stops,half the people have already got in and most of the people who wanted to alight have done so already. Again a simple law will guarantee safety in such matters. All you have to do is get down in the direction in which the train is moving and keep running for a few steps. Same for climbing aboard.

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.

Why the NOTA is relevant

NOTE: This article was originally written for Glasnost, NLU Delhi’s Independent Student Newspaper. Kindly take out a few moments and check out the work. It is amazing.

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 ). 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.

Top 5 Law School Clichés (as seen by a first year)

NOTE: This piece was written by me for the 5th issue of Audi Alteram Partem, NLU Delhi’s college magazine. Attached below the article is a snapshot of the piece as it was published.

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.

Andhon Mein Kaana Raja Kaun?

NOTE: This article was originally written for Glasnost, NLU Delhi’s Independent Student Newspaper. Kindly take out a few moments and check out the work. It is amazing.

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.