Before we get started, let me just say that I despise government in all forms, shapes and sizes, especially my own government, ‘Her Majesty’s Incompetent Servants of the UK’. I do not vote and even in the next general election, it is unlikely that I will bother to exercise my right to vote. In fact, in the general elections I have been eligible to vote in, I have never bothered to exercise my right to choose, such is my lack of faith in the political system. Imbeciles. As a UK tax payer, I have every damn right to despise the boys in power.
And so today marks the begining of the world’s most important election. No, not Obama, but India. Now, this is not a commentary on India’s politicians. I am not educated enough in that field, nor have I experienced it in order to give my opinions on the matter. More importantly, I do not pay Indian taxes, so it is none of my business.
But, in an election that has over ten percent of the world’s population eligible to vote (over 700 million people), the size of this election cannot be underestimated. Plus, unlike the other elections since India’s independence, India is now an economic force that will affect us all in this generation. The decisions that Indians will make over this month will reverberate long into the future, beyond the lives of many of the voters of this vast nation. Already it is a vote that has been marred by violence. Now, again, I do not know enough of the backgrounds of the people behind the attacks to say anything beyond that it is a tragedy to see so many people hurt and killed by these attacks. Interesting to note, they did not happen in the classic trouble areas of Kashmir, but in the poor states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. These are places far removed from the metropolitan miracles of Delhi and Mumbai or from the industrialisation, education and diversification of the South of India.
And it is in the trouble spots, where the vast bulk of India reside, where this election will be decided. This is not an India of glossy Bollywood films, but an India entrenched in poverty, that has barely advanced since colonial times. Where illiteracy is still high, where disease flourishes and where malnutrition is still a problem. It is an area where India’s economic miracle has failed to touch and it is an India whose decisions could shape the world for a generation to come.
As I have mentioned previously, I am off to India next month. I will be in the hill states of the north east, an area that has seen its fair share of violence and unsurprisingly, a part of India that has failed to see any economic miracle. The great challenge facing India’s government will be to galvanise its rural area, beyond the metropolitan belts. The south has been relatively lucky with broadly good governments while the Punjab dominated north west has built on its strong economic base inherited since independence to thrust itself forward. But much of India has suffered from corruption and a general lack of pride and identity within themselves in order to move themselves forward. One thing though that the people of India must realise; governments can only do so much. Ultimately, it is down to the individual to make their own lives better…