A lot of things in India take a lot of time. That is when things actually do happen. I have often found myself wondering about this time business on a diverse set of issues. Like for example why are movies so long when the plot can be done and dusted in an  hour or so. Why are they long queues to everything. I remember standing at the end of this very long line to get myself admitted in college. I never thought I’ll ever get to the end of that line and I only stuck on because the line behind me was even longer. So by these standards I shouldn’t be suprised that the voting in general elections has taken so long. Yes we have all those numbers , which i have now heard a million times, but even then do we really need to vote over a month in 5 different phases. ? Does UP really need 4 out of those 5 phases to conduct an election ? This is not some far flunged border area but our very own Hindi heartland and bordering the national capital.

While this election drags on for an eternity the governance has come to a standstill. The world is in the middle of an economic crisis, south asia is in the middle of a serious political crisis and what is India doing ? Its between the fourth and fifth phase. The cabinet ministers are out campaigning, chief ministers are out campaigning, bureaucrats are probably speaking to their mates in IB to figure out who to suck up to next and the media has got a sunstroke. Its the silly season in politics. No one has an idea about who will win the election and there are no exit polls. In the absence of any information the media has all these ‘what if ‘ theories. There is no focus on serious issues, no focussing on what the different party programs are , the sole focus is on who will get the numbers to form the next government.

India has great dreams of being a superpower. Yet so much is happening on its door step and I don’t see India anywhere. India in its wisdom has decided to not to interfere in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka and Nepal. Really? When opposition politicians ( in the case of Nepal) and state chief minsiters (in the case of SL) have things to say in their affairs the government has nothing to say. Or do we selectively decide to interfere. We interfere in the case of IPKF and Maldives but not in other cases. Or is it the China factor ? where if we take the moral high ground , then China gets the economic high ground. Yes they are sometimes not the same !

There is a mini civil war happening in Pakistan and India has nothing to add to the arguement ? A recent deal between Afghanistan and Pakistan may open a land route for India to Afghanistan. Its like the silk route days. What is India doing about it ? What is India doing up the land route to north east via Bangladesh ?

There is an ASEAN summit happening soon and the PM can’t go. Why the delay in signing the India – ASEAN free trade agreement ? have we again become too big to ignore ASEAN ?

I am tired of waiting !!

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It happens to me sometimes that I come across a word or a phrase quite often in a short span of time. So I would have not heard that expression for many years and then in a couple of months I hear or read it almost daily. One of these words has been ‘mirror’ and among the phrases has been ‘mirror to society’. Like today I read about how police are a mirror of the society there control. Which made me think about how interesting it is to understand society by looking at its mirrors and I have probably been doing that without knowing what I was doing. Almost immediately my thoughts turned to the biggest mirror coming to India over the next one month, the elections.

For me elections in India were very exciting times. It was for me like sitting through a crash course of understanding India. Everyone was talking about the India I wanted to know and understand , without getting out of my room ! I discovered new towns, new castes, new and old heroes and villains. I discovered how people who were long dead and continued to vote and how people voted for candidates who were long dead. I caught up with the latest practices of booth capturing, of candidates luring voters with liquor, cash, jobs and what have you. I also saw the face of the representative from my constituency and he didnt look a day old since I last saw him 5 years ago. Although his posters made him look much younger. I caught up with the latest innovations in wall art – the red of the communists, the orange of the right  wing and the blue of the others. I went to all the election rallies I could go to and it was all good fun. Candidates outdoing each other on being late for their meetings, on making promises they would never deliver. The supporters outdoing each other in their slogan shouting, each with a bigger garland than the other and all of them going around houses discovering old friends and exhorting them to vote. I discovered that the sports shop guy was a congress supporter , while the video rental store was pro bjp. The father of this cute girl in my neighbourhood, of all things, wanted the emergency to come back!  I , eternally spineless, was all that with them. The girl was cute, tennis balls could be had for a discount and there was always another movie to rent. I say all this about elections without malice or any sarcasm. I can not think of anything that shakes up the entire nation at the same time and brings everyone out. It has atleast 5 times the participation of Kumbh mela. Most people at this time in India are thinking about the elections one way or the other. That by itself is an achievement. Its a democratic exercise, fiscal expansion, redistribution of wealth and a fantastic tamasha all rolled into one.

To me the process of elections is more fun than the actual governance of the country. Because this process represents change which always has me excited. I am excited this year that certain notables are contesting the elections. Of these only one has any chance of winning I think. I wonder what really brings them to contest elections. Usually I would say power, but I don’t think winning an election would bring more power than they have already. Also I wonder if they will continue in politics after they lose their elections. But for me the most exciting person in Indian politics is Mayawati. Still in her early 40s, without a famous last name or a film career , has manged to be twice chief minister of UP. She is not my model of an ideal candidate, but she somehow single handedly has managed to make her party almost a national one. I am most curious to see how many seats will the BSP win in this election.Yes she is corrupt,  and is not exactly the fashion leader of the free world, but to me she is better tuned to the masses than most of her other contemporaries.  To win in  UP you need to have a USP besides money, guns and goondas. Everyone has them.

Is it time for an Ambedkar statue at Vijay Chowk ?