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What the country has voted against

What the country has voted against
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First Published: Sun, May 17 2009. 12 24 AM IST

Mrinal Pande, Chief Editor, Hindustan
Mrinal Pande, Chief Editor, Hindustan
Updated: Sun, May 17 2009. 12 24 AM IST
From time to time, an anguished cry arises from the ranks of the old Vinoba Bhave school of Sarvodaya in our language media, which has long been rather unhappy with globalization and its side effects. It asks why the post-Emergency generations in India have strayed so far from the Gandhian path of swabhasha, swadeshi and swabhiman (mother tongue, home-made and self-respect) and taken to anglicizing Hindi and subscribing to capitalist ideas? They would no doubt read in the current results a further proof of the betrayal of what they mistakenly consider Gandhian ideals.
Mrinal Pande, Chief Editor, Hindustan
When all is said and done, Mahatma Gandhi, whose ideas were forged as much in India as in South Africa and Great Britain, and who spoke Gujarati at home and English at work but taught himself Hindi for easy communication with the masses, stands for constant experimentation with truth that knows no boundaries, either global or linguistic.
From his view point, the young Indian voters who have voted in the United Progressive Alliance government have ushered in a fresh platform for Gandhigiri in national politics. The Congress party that leads the alliance is led by a woman of Italian origin, whose son does not wish for a berth in the new government but wishes to strengthen the party at the grassroots level. The alliance had, moreover, put up a a prime ministerial candidate who is a Sikh and makes no bones about his economic agenda for India.
It is, therefore, important to see not just what the majority of Indians (and a majority of those are less that 35 years old) have voted for but also what they have voted against.
They have voted against the harsh and divisive Hindutva agenda the senior Bharatiya Janata Party leadership foolishly chose to opt for after its pro-Jinnah, soft Hindutva drew the ire of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. They have voted against the anti-liberalization rants of the Left that constantly threw a spanner in the works during the last five years.
They have voted against caste leaders who bargained for more ministerial seats than their parties were worth. They have voted against criminals. They have voted against Luddites long on borrowed and stale pro-people slogans and short on fresh performance.
And last but not the least, they have voted against those that acted like tyrants, particularly Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party, when it came to suppressing dissent both within the party and outside in the electoral maidan.
The media, both print and visual, played no small role in carrying complete and graphic information about candidates and parties to each nook and corner of the country. As a result, when the Indian voter stepped out to cast his vote this time, he was far better armed with information than ever before.
The Election Commission did seem a bit schoolmarmish in its extreme displeasure of any form of levity in public and that did rob this election of much of its usual colour and noise that are so typically Indian. But it also ensured that all sorts of threats notwithstanding, this mammoth exercise was carried out peacefully and well.
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First Published: Sun, May 17 2009. 12 24 AM IST