Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cease. Desist. We're Indians.

Look, I don't care what anyone thinks but logic and past experience (as also some touch with ground realities) tells me that we're not about to have a tech-elected government by a wide stretch. Not this year, or in 2014 or whenever.

The basic contention backing the use of internet and a bevy of social networking sites was to rope the youth in, right? Okay, that's good thinking, but then what? I can bet you my last 50-paise coin (that I am saving for a year now, don't ask why) that despite getting the youth's attention and all that jazz, your internet blitzkreig STILL will not guarantee youth presence at the polls. Oh, if these elections were conducted online, yeah, you'd have the kind of unprecedented voting percentage that would stagger the economy. A lot of the youth that do go and vote, are the ones whose families have been voting for a long time now.

See, that's where the connect actually lies. If I had the kind of dumbass family (and there are many of those) that never discussed politics and kept any dinner table conversations restricted to who did what in the family and neighbourhood and only spoke to each other when either fighting or asking for money, I wouldn't vote either. If my parents hadn't been voting for ages and drilled it into my stupid head that voting was really an obligation, not a favour you were doing to the country, I wouldn't vote.

A lot of people don't vote. They're watching the Jay Ho vs Bhay Ho charades on TV while they watch their daily soaps, but those ads don't influence them to get our and cast their vote. They're reading the coverage every day, noting what their MP hopeful is promising them. While some of them still have some fundamental queries ("Who is my MP? Which party?"), there are others who seemingly know it all and STILL don't vote.

It's no use drawing parallels between the US Presidential Elections and our general elections. Next thing we'll be comparing Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh. Hoping for an internet revolution for our polls is not just unrealistic, it's stupid. The power of the internet to spur people on to action is either grossly overestimated or largely untapped yet.

And pray, why do you want the internet to make a difference for you? Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the heat and dust of election rallies, the getting your head blasted apart by blaring loudspeakers, the crowds that gather every time there's a rally, the cheers that a bold statement draws. That is where the real flavour of Indian elections lies - and what are we, if not a colourful, emotional, in-your-face race of people?

Despite unleashing a relentless media campaign on us, the BJP is still doing its rallies and sabhas. What's more, watching a Narendra Modi rally or an L K Advani one on TV is sure to make a bigger difference to your thinking that reading what they said the next day. As humans, we need the visual element for a connection. Sure, the internet is a visual medium. But can we really call it an engaging one in the context of elections?


Debby said...

I second this post. Even with all its ills, nothing beats the real, hard, dirty campaign. It even fun if you forget all the criminals for a moment.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Try as they might use the internet- HELLo! YOUTH! ADVANI