We the People . .. Your Vote and Beyond

With the oncoming Lok sabha elections , we see flyers everywhere exhorting everyone to  vote .To make a difference . Everyone  has an opinion on this, from my cab driver to my college professor and rightfully so . And everyone has a rather firm and stringent view on why his party/leader is right . To be sure , yes the right to vote is important  and it does matter , but , can the leader/PM or whoever he is actually affect so much of a change in your life . For the past 60  odd years , apart from war or famine , has the average middle class really been affected so much by who is in power. Does your life really change . And do you think your responsibility ends the minute you vote . That ‘Secularism’ and ‘Anti corruption’ or ‘Development’ are sole prerogatives of these leaders. Do you believe that  once you  have cast your vote your job is done. And you  can now  ease back into  our mundane lives of  ‘intellectually’ dissecting the elected leaders and their short comings over coffee at a fancy restaurant  and forming fanatic opinions about political parties .

I fully well acknowledge the fact, that  by and large , the educated English-speaking middle class of India are not revolutionaries .  At least for sure I am not . I like my luxuries and my comfort .My cappuccino and my bean bag . I have a family and I intend fully well to take care of it . I have a career and I intend to progress in it . I neither have the time nor the inclination to sit in Dharnas or pelt stones. Or write/read   1000 page ideological manifestos of political parties .

While small steps lack the grandeur of a revolution  and incremental changes lack the drama of an ‘Arab spring’ , I have to believe that it changes things . As much as  a PM helps or hinders  in the grand scheme of things , on a smaller scale, and on an every day basis  whether or not India truly ‘shines’ comes down to whether ‘YOU’ want to make India a better place or not .

1. Littering – its amazing how   even highly educated people in really well-paying jobs do not think twice before littering roads , trains ,buses and any public property with waste, plastics and some rather unmentionable items . Actually amazed is the wrong word . Disgusted would be the right word . And I don’t even want to start about tourist locations . When we visited Dharamsala , the beauty of the place was often offset by the chronic littering of plastic bottles and wrappers just about everywhere . Even atop trek trails . Who the hell do  you think is going to pick up after  you on top of a mountain??  I mean seriously , even if we do not leave a place better than it is , can we not vow at least not to leave a place worse  off . So I vow , not to litter or let (anyone) litter

2. Illiteracy – We all  know that every child has a universal right to education . But frankly we also know what a joke that is . Education is something that can transform your life . My grandma used to say , “Study well , for  people can take your jewels and your money , but nobody can take your education from you “. So , go ahead teach a child .If you don’t have the time to do it , sponsor a child .  You can rest assured , that at least one life was  changed for the better  .

3. Succeed – This one’s for the women . As  far as we have come , society still abounds in  archaic rules around what women can and cannot do . Should or should not do . And the only way to break free of those shackles is to succeed on your own terms and in your own time . To revel in that success  and  to keep at it , so that the benchmarks for the next generation  of women are that much higher . Their dreams, that much bigger and their paths that much easier .

4.  Respect -This is a simple enough thing to do  . Respect people . Especially those that work for you .  Especially in a city like Delhi,where  there are way too many people who throw their weights around just because they can .There is a term called ‘Dignity of Labour ‘. Look it up . FYI. .  Being rude to the hired help  does not make you a  cool guy with a cool car .It only makes you a jerk  who happens to have a cool car .

I  don’t intend to stop with a vote . Let  Modi/Kejri/Rahul do what they can and I will do what I can .