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This is my diary....what I make sense of, around me. You'll find short prose on contemporary topics that interest me. What can you expect - Best adjectives? …. hmm occasionally, tossed around flowery verbs ?…. Nope, haiku-like super-brevity? … I try to. Thanks for dropping by & hope to see you again

December 23, 2008


Two interesting articles on Indian polity appeared in Newspapers recently. Written by two proponents on either sides of the political spectrum, one was by a high heeled NRI turned grass root level & local governance activist (Ramesh Ramanathan) and the other by a seasoned politician who weathered many political storms to be the third successive chief minister of Delhi state (Sheila Dikshit).

The former explains why the middle class is irrelevant in the present polity-- heated & emotive debates on TV , banner & candle demonstration on streets and informed public opinions do not matter as long as they do not carry to ballot boxes. He goes on to write how the polity works on caste & creed lobbying and fits like a multidimensional jig saw puzzle. Here I beg to differ with Mr. Ramanathan’s and my take on this aspect is as follows;

Caste & creed based politics is a form of mass lobbying that is inevitable in democracy, it is an expression of “the will of the people”. In essence what gets elected & represented in the assembly & Parliament are 'special interests' that organize on party lines to influence Govt.

This will of the people , when spread over layers & layers of ethnicity,cultures, dialects & economic strata over a vast geographical area takes a complex hue and is rarely visible as a homogeneous mixture. This probably explains the death of a two party dominance & arrival of coalitions on the Indian political scene. And this represents the masses & not the classes.

In this din of mass based politics what constitutes & represents public good is always debatable. The latter part has been largely under the realm of the media (especially electronic media) and urban middle class. And what happens in debate-o-sphere is largely irrelevant and is akin to shouting in vacuum as it never gets the political momentum because it never translates into votes and even if it does , does not carry any swing factor. This is true as far as small & medium urban and semi-urban electorate is concerned. However large urban electorate is getting organized and Sheila Dikshit’s rise gives a ray of hope and an answer to this dilemma.

She probably represents a unique constituency in the country, a large urban electorate which is young, cosmopolitan, aware (if not fully literate) and upwardly mobile. And it thinks & votes for what have been largely urban issues like development & good governance and less on issues mentioned above. The bijli-sadak- pani kind of issue that makes for citizen movements in cities is something that she has addressed effectively to retain power. With changing demographics and increasing urbanization (which is expected to grow from current 28% to 40% of Population by 2020) this model of polity is likely to be replicated in other constituencies elsewhere as well.
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