Indian politics is a theater that consistently produces the greatest tragicomedies. I don't think the written word can ever do it justice. Only satirical cartoons can pull it off. But since I can't draw, I'll just write.
There are a lot of things being said of the section of Indian citizenry that supposedly governs the nation. Some things are said out of repulsion, some from exacerbation, some from sheer hopelessness and some are genuine advice. While there will always be detractors for anything and anyone, the sheer volume of negative rhetoric that is found with reference to Indian politicians says much about their standing in the public view. And yet, over 13 national parliamentary elections, we have voted these people to power, often without a second glance at whether they are capable of leading a nation of so many millions.
To say that India is a complex country would be a profound understatement. India is not just complex, it is chaotic, intricate, muddled, oxymoronic and so much more that I just can't think of all the adjectives. Caste, religion, race, region, class, money and gender are only a few of the factors that affect the swing of votes.
Over the last two decades or so, caste and region alongside religion have been a predominant factor in national politics. However, that seems to be changing. The fourteenth parliamentary elections may be a watershed in that the middle-class actually participates actively in it, instead of just being passive "herd-mentality" voters. Middle-class citizens are asking questions, campaigning, standing for elections and preparing to decide the future of the country.
The same can to a certain extent, be said of the poorer sections of Indian society. True, the scale of participation is much smaller, but it has not bypassed them totally. Economic development and future opportunities are looked forward to by all, and it is these areas that will decide the outcome of the elections.
India is but one nation that is going through the throes of change today. Thailand, Ukraine and even Greece and Egypt fall under the same category. The rising middle-class in these countries has seen some comforts and wealth come their way in the last few years. However, they are still insecure as to whether the good times will last. Will their children continue to benefit? Or will bad governance push them back into the suffocating cage of poverty? It is this insecurity that is driving the protests and revolutions in these and many other countries. Will India go down this same road of violence, or will its people have the vision to look beyond and vote intelligently?
To be fair, though the Indian political scene can be quite saddening, even the United States and Europe are pretty horrific. And the less said about China and a few of the banana nations of Africa the better. But there are some wonderful examples of leadership out there, though they are few and far between. Bhutan's king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, was apparently so popular in the nation (which still follows monarchy) that Bhutan's 750,000 citizens rejected democracy because he was doing such a fantastic job.
Can India learn effective democracy from its more or less non-democratic neighbor?