Nandan Nilekani’s resignation as the co-Chairman of Infosys Technologies might be a great loss for one of the most iconic companies of India but is indeed a great gain for Indian governance. Now that he has taken up a job, which in certain respects is more challenging than what he had done for more than three decades at Infosys, Nilekani – as the Chairman of the newly formed Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) – if he succeeds, could forever change the way the poor can be served in this nation. Yet, even when such a card is a long time due and even when almost the full majority of Indians would be happy to have a card like that, one can take it for granted that many in the bureaucratic corridors of India, down to the people in the local administrations of the block offices, would abhor if such an occurrence were to eventually materialize. The reason for the same is simple – such a card would be a permanent roadblock to their ability to earn the extra buck that they have got used to, by manipulating and robbing the Indian poor for decades. No wonder, Nandan Nilekani should be prepared for many roadblocks on his way to executing the project. The moot question is whether the administration and those down in the chain can alone be blamed for such blatant corruption? Well, not really, for there is no doubt that they would invariably resist following the footsteps of their political masters.
A decade and a half ago, the then Election Commissioner, T N Seshan revolutionized democracy and elections in India by pioneering the concept of voter ID cards. Since then, the Election Commission (EC) has consistently created new benchmarks in refining the election process in India. The Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) is a marvel in its own self and the concept is so unique and effective that many Western developed countries send their officials to India to learn about the mechanics of the machine. In fact, even the United States has not been able to make its entire election process as sophisticated as India has succeeded in doing. EVMs not only make the voting system tamperproof, but also – along with the stringent security measures that the EC resorts to with the help of the paramilitary forces – ensures that the voting process in India has reached such levels that in many parts of India where rigging was a way of life, it has been checked to a large extent. But if the recent murmurs are to be believed, especially the ones coming from the quarters of BJP, SP and the CPM, they want to ban the EVMs and get back to ballot boxes!! According to them, the most important reason for their miserable performance in this election has been the EVM, which they feel can and has been tampered with in favor of the victorious parties. Well, such a thought is not only insanely ridiculous and farthest from reality, it is also a reflection of disrespect that they hold for the electorate! It is a matter of shame that these political parties who are talking of ballot today are not willing to learn from their mistakes and are trying to find a scapegoat in the EVM, which fortunately after decades of rigging and blatant loot of votes, has provided some form of voice to the electorate! But then, if one looks at the parties who are raising the concerns over EVMs, the picture becomes evidently clear.
SP as a political party is probably not even worth talking about given the level to which it has taken the criminalization of politics in India. And so far as the Left and BJP are concerned, the fact that defeat has taken sanity away from them is vindicated by the statements emanating from their highest levels of leadership. As a political party that could be India’s best alternative to Congress, BJP does have a lot of responsibilities. It is indeed funny for the BJP to come up with such statements knowing that some of their chief ministers like Raman Singh of Chhattisgarh, Shivraj Singh Chauhan of Madhya Pradesh and Narendra Modi of Gujarat have not only decisively and consistently won elections in their own states but have also been appreciated for the ground level social reforms they have initiated in their respective states. This was reflected by the near wipeout of Congress in state elections in MP, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat. In the Rajasthan state elections, even though BJP lost to Congress, the margin has been nominal. And in each of the states, it was the same EVM which made the BJP victorious. But the BJP didn’t blame it then, did they?! It was only when they lost the union elections because of a hollow and failed plank of Hindutva that they started belatedly blaming the EVM. In the same league, the likes of Prakash Karat should realize that this country does not adhere to his Stalinist ideologies and they have been rejected hands down across all bastions, including their own in West Bengal. And thus the likes of Prakash Karat do not want the EVM to stay as it punctures their incredible skills in scientific rigging that the CPM cadres have mastered for decades. Without the EVMs and the stringency of the EC, the turn of events in West Bengal would have been unthinkable!
The writing on the wall has always been very clear, particularly in these elections. You deliver and the electorate votes for you. And if you don’t, then you stand to get marginalized! And this has been possible only through an agile EC and an unbiased EVM! So contrary to what the BJP, SP and CPM are chanting and wanting, the nation is truly hailing the EC and EVM!
- 16 July 2009 |
- Arindam on Indian Politics