Notes from Debutant Voter


I voted this morning! This is the first time I have cast my ballot – even though I have been eligible twice before.


During LS 2004, I ran from pillar to post to get my name of the voters' list but to no avail. During Karnataka assembly polls in 2008; I was solely to blame for not voting. I had taken a vacation after a very long time and did not want to “waste”my vacation by staying back in Bangalore! A (very) stupid excuse, I now realize in hindsight.


So what exactly am I feeling now, after having pressed the blue button?

  • Relief, that I have performed my duty and that my responsibility ends here?

  • Elation, for I can now crib about anything and everything, without pricking my conscience; since I have now earned the right to crib?

NO and NO.


I am feeling excited; for having taken the first concrete step towards being a responsible citizen. Of course, I believe that the other steps (blogging, creating awareness) etc do matter – but casting my vote is the first active step (the operative phrase being “active”).


I am feeling eager – in anticipation of all that I have to look forward to in the coming years.


I am feeling confident, that we the youth can turn around the state of affairs on its head in the next decade by participating whole-heartedly in administration and governance.


Cheers to that thought. Hoping for an India cleansed of its political garbage. JAI HIND.


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As an afterthought, how does one decide who to vote for? Obviously, it depends on the situation. Here's how I took the decision:

  1. First, check if any of the alternative parties are contesting in my constituency. If so, analyze them and choose the best among them.

  2. If there are no candidates from any of the “new-age parties”, then do a thorough study of all the candidates who are contesting (including the Independents) – their history, whether there are any criminal cases against them, their assets, their manifesto. If I find any of them satisfactory, I zero in on that candidate.

  3. If they are all the same (read “useless”), then do the next best thing – vote for the candidate from that party which I think is the better among the worst.


I know what you're thinking – what did I choose finally? I'm not telling – its a secret ballot remember :D. I'm not even disclosing how many steps I had to step through in the above process before I arrived at a conclusion ;)


Guess How Many Are In The Fray in My Constituency?


THIRTY SEVEN .. no less. Don't believe me? Check for the number of candidates contesting from Bangalore Central (for example - at this site).


I'm wondering what percentage of the total votes cast will the winner garner! And I'm wondering what will be the share of the winner as a percentage of the total number of eligible voters in the constituency (taking into account a 60-70 percent voter turn-out).


World's largest democracy ki Jai Ho!


No Modernization Please!


The Samajwadi Party has announced its intent to abolish the use of computers in new projects and to ban English in education. I totally support this move. Our nation has been progressing too fast. It is time to slow down, take a U-turn and march towards the 11th Century. In fact, I propose the following as items on the agenda of SP for the 2014 elections:


  1. Manufacturing of automobiles should be banned.

This will serve two purposes – One, it will give employment to the porters who can use the traditional “palki”s to transport people (especially those like Mulayam Singh Yadav himself) from point A to point B. Two – it will give employment to millions of bullocks and oxen in the country – since bullock carts will be the primary mode of transportation.


  1. Telecommunication of all forms (phones, TV, radio) should be banned.

Yes. Don't you know that all these forms of telecommunication are snatching the livelihood of the 11th-century style messengers? Remember those messengers who used to stand atop hilltops and shout out messages to the messengers on the next hilltop? Don't you want to ensure their employment as well?


  1. Security Agencies should be banned.

How selfish can we Indians get? Do we not care about the employment of the dogs in our country? These security companies are stealing the bread-and-butter from the millions of dogs of our nation. What kind of nation is it which cannot even ensure employment of its strays?


And this list is just indicative. By no means is it the complete list – remember, we are talking an election manifesto here. These points are just the highlights.


Your suggestions to make India the superpower of 10 centuries ago are welcome. We will try to get them incorporated into the SP agenda for 2014. JAI BHARATH.


Cause of the Month: The Rural Edge Project


He was a boy in his early teens. Just like millions of other boys like him in rural India, he had Zero education. He used to graze cattle in the vast Indian hinterland.


Fast forward 2 years. He now works in a BPO, speaks decent English, has self-respect and a dignified future which he can look forward to.


Does that sound out of a fictional novel or straight out of Bollywood? Then its time for you to watch this video

Stumped and pleasantly surprised beyond words, aren't you? So am I.


So, how did this happen? How did the quantam change come about? Enter: The "Rural Edge" project by SAMUHA and Foundation For Life.


SAMUHA is an NGO which has been working in the area of “Integrated Rural Development” for the past 22 years. Foundation For Life (FFL) has designed and developed a model for empowerment of the rural youth, for youth with any level of education to become employable in back-office processes in BPOs. An excerpt of its mission :


"Transforming the poverty of our villagers by providing opportunities of work, and enabling our fellow citizens – villagers of India - to thus live a life of dignity"


FFL has proved that this is not impossible.. on the contrary, far from it. FFL has already, as a proof of concept, trained one batch of villagers who are now employed in the BPO industry. Training for the next batch is round the corner.


I have now become a believer - in The Rural Edge, its vision and its mission.


How can you contribute?

The basic premise of FFL is to give basic education to the rural youth - and give them kind of a crash course in speaking English. What is needed for this is a set of very short, very simple stories in English; preferably with illustrations (a-la Tinkle). Stories which will keep the children amused for 5 minutes, and at the same time, teach them basics in English. Stories no more than 10 lines long to start off with.


If you are interested to help, please drop in a note to this email ID. I end this post with an appeal to spread the word about this initiative - one which is going to change the future of thousands of rural children forever. Blog about it, spread the word through email, by word of mouth, involve children if possible. This being the summer vacation for students, it is a good opportunity for them to get involved in something creative and at the same time of unfathomable value to the nation and its future.


Looking forward to an India full of educated, empowered and dignified youth! JAI BHARATH.


The Alternative Approach to Indian Politics

This article was originally published at YouthKiAwaaz. Reproducing it here.


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And you thought Indian politics was all about 60-plus politicians whose only aim in life was to die rich and powerful, while at the same time, leave the nation in dire straits? Think again.


An article titled “Neither Left nor Right” appeared in Bangalore Times supplement of the Times of India dated 9th April 2009 (I am trying to find the article online – I will update this post with the permalink if and when I do find it). The article mentions several young-blood parties and organizations which aim to turn Indian politics on its head. They aim to follow an approach which is diametrically opposite to the one being followed currently. In essence, they all envision a corruption-free and equality-centric India – which are the seeds to economic development, safety and general prosperity.


I would say that this approach comes as a whiff of fresh air for those of us who are being fed the stale diet of political parties whose promises and actions will only take the nation down the doomsday highway.


A List of out-of-the-box-thinking political parties:

Here is a list of such new-age parties and organizations, what I have collectively termed as the Alternative Front (although these parties have not come together to actually form a “front” - more about this towards the end of the post). Please do visit the home links of these parties/organizations to know more about their history, mission, agenda and such.


A cursory glance through these sites reveals a common thread:

  • Most of them are development-oriented (both urban and rural).
  • Most of them promise accountability in politics.
  • Most of them believe that its not the politician – rather its the citizen who is at the centre of governance (both in terms of rights and responsibilities).
  • Most importantly, most of them shun the divide and rule policies of the current crop of politicians. They envisage a society in which everyone is equal– irrespective of religion, caste, gender, language or any other divisive factor which is currently being exploited.


Not Just more of “Those” Parties!

I know what you are thinking – does this mean we have half-a-dozen more parties to add to the rot which is Indian politics? On the contrary, or so I think (very strongly, if I may add).


In my opinion, these parties are different from the run-of-the-mill political parties we have grown used to. These parties have been formed by highly educated people, and in some cases, by people who have worked at the grass-roots level (albeit in a non-political capacity). Some of them have among their ranks, ex-professionals for whom accountability is the mantra.


I think we should give the this new-age politics a chance to prove its mettle. Some of the parties listed above have contested polls in the past. Some are fielding their candidates in the upcoming Parliamentary elections, including in Bangalore. I urge one and all to go through the web sites of various parties and seriously consider voting for their candidates. This is all the more important as in many constituencies, none of the “conventional” candidates are worth even a single vote!


But Why So Many Parties?

There is one caveat though. If these parties converge in their vision and thought process, then why so many parties? Make no mistake, they are up against behemoths. It is definitely going to be an uphill task to secure even a single Lok Sabha seat. When such is the case, why the fragmentation? Would it not be better if all of these parties came together to fight the might of the conventional parties? Of course, there is bound to be differences of opinion amongst them, but there will be room for all of that down the line.


The need of the hour is for these parties to come together and form an “Alternative Front” (I call it that for lack of a more creative name!). The need of the hour is to give the people of India a dose of this new-age governance model. The need of the hour is to give Indians the hope – that all is not lost, that there are parties with honestly patriotic intentions.


I can promise that once the public sees first hand, the benefits of this model, they will never go back to vote for petty politics. And this is where the beauty of the new model lies – once people get used to all-round development, the competition among the parties will increase – to be more competitive, to give more to the nation, to take the country faster on the path to development!


Hoping, in the near term, that the Alternative Front materializes, and even if it does not, that these alternative parties are successful in winning at least a handful of seats in the upcoming elections.


Hoping, in the longer term, that development and equality become the pillars of Indian politics.


JAI BHARAT.


Tell Me Why ...

I recently came across this song titled "Tell Me Why" by Declan Galbraith. Wikipedia tells me that this song was released back in 2002, even before the singer had turned 11!


The lyrics of this song are available here .


I simply loved this song and its message. It was really clever of whoever was the brain behind this song to get a 11 year old to sing it. I wish the "leaders" around the world would see this song and if they have any conscience at all, wake up to reality - of what they are doing to this world. Its not too late to set things right - but if world affairs continue to go the way they are going, who knows the "too late to do anything" phase might dawn before we even realize it.


I have watched several movies in this "genre" before and have been left impressed by them - but never before has a song given me the goosebumps (at least in the context of world harmony) as this, and the Earth Song by Michael Jackson (lyrics here).


Hoping for the World to come to its senses and realize that we have got only One Earth, One World. Hoping that if the leaders of the world don't see light, at least the people of the world unite in this mission to preserve their only collective Home.


A Hate Speech Of My Own


The season of hate speeches is here. Every party worth its salt has had one by now. How can I be left behind? So here I present my own little hate speech:


"If anybody uses violence-laden or hate speeches in the run-up to the elections, we will cut/slit/chop/slash their lifelines - their power. Yes, we will see to it that not a single person who resorts to hate-speeches comes anywhere close to climbing the stairs of the Parliament. We do not need a even one such person to run our country. We will send them to the political slaughterhouse where they will meet their political grave!"


I'm sure the various competing parties will pick on me for giving this hate speech. And Election Commission might be forced to poke its nose too. However, I seek support from you, the reader to ensure that the parties and EC do not deter me from going ahead with this "Hate Campaign".


Can I count on your support?


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Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. All the views and opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, organization, relatives, friends, acquaintances or any other person/entity.