Jul 1, 2009

Vote For Me (And My Four Chins)

You may have seen news about India's latest federal election, which took place between April 16 and May 13th. The voting occurred over five stages, due to the immense size of the electorate (714 million) and number of polling stations (828,804). The end result saw the reelection of the Congress Party in a minority government.

Busing people to the polls

Leading up to the vote, we tried to engage many Indians in political dialogue, including taxi drivers, waiters, transit passengers, youth, etc. but nobody really wanted to talk about it. With dozens of federal parties and a confusing network of coalitions between the different groups, it seems that most people are weary of the country's political happenings. Furthermore, there is widespread doubt as to the legitimacy of the voting process. We surmised that it is generally accepted that many votes are bought with Rupees, or a meal, or even a couple of bottles of beer. Also, almost a third of the elected MPs currently face criminal charges, including murder!

Still, there is much trumpeting in the press of the exercising of of "The World's Largest Democracy" going to the polls, which, really, is an impressive ordeal, and despite its many flaws, surely the best choice of many imperfect options.

However, on the ground, I believe what is most impressive is that India has to have to the world's worst campaign posters. My favourite campaign photo of all is of the candidate in the bottom right corner of this poster. Believe me, his quadruple chin is not an optical allusion. His scrunched up face was plastered all over the state of Himachal Pradesh. The worst part is, I have seen other pictures of him in BJP party campaign posters, and he is actually a jolly looking guy with a big smile. How this photo was approved as as his official campaign shot is a mystery.

No comments:

Post a Comment