Draupadi Mokrasi, Ms. D. Mokrasi, the elusive, much sought after character from Shashi Tharoor’s (follow him on twitter) timeless take – The Great Indian Novel- on India’s other epic the Mahabharata, is finally getting her say!
In this edition of the Indian General Elections, she has spoken for The Indian National Congress. A mandate which finds the trio of Dr. Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi return to power as the country’s Prime Minister, Congress Supremo, and Youth Leader and work on the agenda of creating a social security net, which perhaps in this time of global economic turmoil, has insulated the poor in the states where it has been implemented from hunger and penury.
“Aam Admi”- cynically referred to by city slickers as “mango people”, thanks Iyer, for a great definition, have clearly rooted for the attempt to weave a social security net around the 450 million rural population who continue to make the tough climb into middle-class heaven.
“Those Ones”, from the title of the 80’s indie classic- In which Annie gives it to Those Ones- the first screenplay written by Arundhati Roy, and incidentally, the first movie in which Shahrukh Khan acted in, also refers to the millions for whom the social worker, and the NGO have often become the first voice and last act of economic well-being when good governance and the promise of roads, power and telecom connectivity has played second fiddle in a priority list that starts with vote-bank politicians, government contractors, and such other luminaries.
The fact that India’s voters recognised good governance in Bihar, decided to call the caste bluff in UP, and punished the Reds in Bengal for ignoring their rural constituents is something of a revelation. the fact that regional and national parties didn’t realise it is also another one.
So what happens next? While the incumbent Congress government believes it has got the mandate for more of the same, my gut feel here is that this is actually a vote for change. And that’s a tough one!
Look around and you will know where that is coming from. India has now started resembling a typical home in Dharavi. Very clean, and neat inside, although overcrowded with gadgets and a family of ten struggling in a 10X10 feet space, and absolute filth in the neighbourhood. Look around and you find millions already displaced and living in concentration camps – whether it is in the Afpak region with Taliban- islamists being the cause or in the South, where the Sri Lankan Tamils are another humanitarian disaster in the making, or for that matter in Nepal, where another round of civil war looks likely even as more and more poor people from Bangladesh come in looking for livelihoods in Indian cities.
Change Agenda One– Protect our lives and our way of life. Not a tall order, but I don’t think the country will take another 26/11 incident, specially if the government is found lacking!
Change Agenda Two– Livelihoods and Economic direction. India has been fairly insulated from the global economic meltdown, primarily thanks to the fall in oil prices. Had the oil prices continued to shoot up while the meltdown was happening, it would have taken India to the same cleaners that got India to liberalise in 1991. That said, India needs pace in its internal economy, and better logistics and reporting systems that reduce our energy burden while improving efficiencies.
Change Agenda Three– The Environment. This may be a city slicker view in a country where large parts still do not have access to clean water, or even the power to purify it. But there is an opportunity here for performing the same leapfrog that has landed India’s service economy ahead of its manufacturing sector and far ahead of China.
Change Agenda Four– The Youth. Yes! it’s finally happened again. First time, the youth influenced electoral results was in ‘71 when Indira Gandhi won making the general elections a referendum for youth. The same influence worked in ‘84 for Rajiv Gandhi, and now for the scion – Rahul Gandhi.
The caveat here is everytime that happened, the Congress managed to commit political suicide and take the two steps back, in timeless Indian tango. but that’s another post!
So what happens to the CPIM Left and the BJP Right- or even the regional vote arithmetic now? I guess this is a time for them to lick their wounds, and do an assessment on what exactly did go wrong on the ground.