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"Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in."
- Napoleon Bonaparte

We Must Engage with the Political Class to Remain Relevant

It is a common belief that 'Educated Civil Society' no longer matters to politicians and policy makers.

Outpouring of public anger post 26/11 in the form of rallies, marches and candle light vigils highlighted the frustration and helplessness of educated middle class. Unfortunately such protests are neither sustainable nor do they provide long term solutions to problems and issues facing our nation.

Failure of governance and lack of development are the two most important issues which our elected representatives and bureaucrats need to focus on. But if people who understand and are concerned about these issues do not engage with the political class, they will continue with the vote bank politics of caste, religion, favours and appeasement.

We have chosen parliamentary democracy system of government and are proud of being the largest democracy. Over past 60 years we have evolved as a robust democracy, which many nations of the world can only hope for. We just need to peep into our neighbourhood to realize as to how fortunate we are to have enjoyed a credible and popular democracy from our birth as an independent nation, except for a brief period of emergency during 1970s.

Democracies depend upon citizen’s participation, to make an informed and collective choice every few years to choose their leaders and the governments which they hope and believe will serve them with honesty and sincerity.

An educated and well informed citizen making the right choice is the basic tenet of a robust democracy. Unfortunately, given the much maligned image of our political class, educated civil society has chosen to stay away from exercising this fundamental right. While we criticize them, we don’t want to be even remotely engaged with the politics or political leaders.

This is the reason why political class ignores the educated civil society and focuses on rural, urban poor and marginalized sections of the society. Politicians entice these sections with favours, appeasement, money and muscle power. They become the vote banks, based on caste, religion, region and language.

This has resulted in a chicken & egg situation. Since we don’t like the current day politicians, we do not engage in the political process. But since we don’t engage in the political process we don’t get politicians of our choice. This vicious circle needs to be broken.

It is obvious that politicians would care only for those who vote for them. Disengaging has only done us harm by producing criminals and thugs as politicians. Time has come for us to engage with political class and make our VOTE count.

Let’s start not just engaging but aligning. If we align with a party or a candidate and assure them of our vote, they will be happy and willing to look into our concerns and issues.

We often hear that educated people are so few that their vote won’t matter. This is a myth.

Post delimitation, 2009 Lok Sabha will have 120 urban constituencies (out of a total of 543), which decide their winner by a margin of just few thousand votes. So a determined and informed educated middle class, voting as a block based on issues of governance and development, will become the swing vote bank, which will be courted by every party. So lets not underestimate the power of SWING VOTE of determined educated civil society.

More on SWING VOTE in the Next Article.

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