May 03, 2009



Thanks for your response, Nitin.

You seem to have greater confidence in the evolutionary perfectability of political systems than I do. We probably agree on at least some of what constitutes a good political system. But there is little in the Indian experience since 1935 that gives me any confidence that our political systems have improved. Yes, we have a RTI, we have a more or less free national press (that still ignores major issues), and our voting public seems to have acquired the capacity to spring surprises. But one look at the composition of our state and central legislatures will probably convince you that either the overall quality of our system is not getting better, or that the understanding of what constitutes "better" remains problematic.

If I were to state my argument more clearly, I would say that voting ALONE does not help. And more people should go out and vote for the "none of the above" option. And we should get rid of our archaic system of the "first past the post", and make our electoral systems more representative of public opinion. Political participation in a democracy cannot simply consist of casting a vote every five years and going to sleep between elections.


How does voting for the least worst candidate between a bunch of thugs and goons help create the conditions for demanding greater accountability, responsiveness and transparency?

Now, unless you expect large sociological processes to work like Maggi noodles, then the answer to this question is: slowly.

Each time you pick a less worse candidate, the overall quality gets better. A few elections later, you will have better political representatives sitting in parliament.

But hope you do realise that many people, especially those in cities, do not vote. So the argument "that voting doesn't help" is just based on prejudice, not fact.

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