By Riddhi Mehta — April 14, 2014.
- Why India: 814,500,000 Indians will be taking part in the Indian General Elections
- The Main Players: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party, Other smaller political parties
- The Logistics: The voting will take place over a month (April 7 – May 12)
In a vast country like India, where languages, cultures, food, religious beliefs change every few kilometers, it is hard to gauge how a single political party can be elected to power. More often than not, the Indian Parliament is formed through a coalition; an amalgamation of two or three parties to form a majority in the Lok Sabha (Lower House).
This year, the Indian General Election will witness the largest democratic exercise in voting requiring 5 million people merely to conduct the election procedure. Over the past few years, India has witnessed a variety of political and economic turbulences, not to mention a host of corruption scams and incidences of rape. Often, I have had discussions with my colleagues here in the U.S. and their opinion of India is not always a positive one. In my opinion, this election will have a huge impact on India’s future and standing in the world.
Something that I’ve found to be a central factor during the run up to this historical election is the media’s role. While one would hope that the media should act as a watchdog – alert, observant and protective, providing access to information that is otherwise out of the reach of the common man – unfortunately, Indian media has not done this.
Recent media coverage of the pre-election rallies and events leading to the elections makes me wonder how a young voter could be impacted or misguided by the information provided to them. 378 million voters this year are, like me, between the ages of 18 – 35. This staggering number is constantly exposed to media, television, and social networking. I know that I am only a drop in this vast ocean, but it makes me wonder if there are others in this demographic who have the same reservations as I do.
A rudimentary analysis of the contestants – from the media’s perspective – has shown me that the following are my options:
- Arvind Kejriwal: Leader of the AAP. A specialist in dharnas who managed to hold his seat as the Chief Minister of Delhi for a meagre 49 days. The AAP manifesto claims that their first prerogative is ‘Swaraj’ under which they hope to devolve more power to the people. The only picture in my head is that of a Banana Republic.
- Narendra Modi: Chief Minister of Gujarat since 12 years. According to some this man has vision. Some accuse of him of being a mass murderer and a bigoted, corrupt individual who would sink the Indian economy even further; ironic since the manifesto of the BJP clearly states that the first thing on their agenda is to stabilize the Indian economy.
- Rahul Gandhi: Due to the media coverage on Rahul Gandhi I do not know whether I should laugh at him or pity him. He belongs to the Nehru – Gandhi dynasty and should in that sense be the ‘rightful heir to the throne’ but India is a democracy not a monarchy. This makes his position in the current political musical chairs a complex one.
Based on the above, I am confused by the lack of transparency created by the media. I understand that the media is entitled to its opinion, but must it constantly shove it into the faces of every Indian? What about honest, accountable, transparent journalism?
I cannot predict which party will come to power or who will be the next leader, but as 0.000000001% of India’s youth, all I can hope for economic stability, growth and government reform. As children we are often told that Rome was not built in a day, but we are seldom reminded Pompeii was destroyed in only three. We can only wait with baited breath and hope that our vote will make a difference.
– Photo Credit: Al Jazeera English (Flickr: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 ShareAlike)
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