Friday, April 24, 2009

The election experience.

I thought i'd write about the farce they call elections in India, the biggest democracy in the world. I am too sleepy now and slightly off mood for not being able to vote. As for the plight of my colleagues who went on polling duty to some interior, naxal controlled areas, well they called up to tell me that they had reached home safe and sound and promised to share their experiences when college re-opened on Monday. I was glad that they understood that I was concerned. Luckily ladies were spared this time.

Several colleges and schools were closed down since they were needed for election purposes, crores of rupees have been spent yet at least fifty percent of those whom I contacted after the election on the 23rd of April said that they kept running from booth to booth but could not find their name listed in any of them. Our area can be described as a rectangle 2 kms. in length and 1 km. broad. Yet to prepare a master chart indicating the allotment of booths to its residents was too difficult a task. Had they deputed a few sincere staff members of our college to make out such a list we would have happily obliged. Another thing that left me wondering is that our uneducated milkman and dhobi were able to cast their votes while educated people could not. I am in an uncompromising mood so I truly feel that we were deliberately confused and forced to retreat while the possibility of bogus voting in our place cannot be ruled out.

This is how I gave vent to my feelings-

I checked the internet and visited the concerned site. It opened a page with 255 booths listed and asked me to click on my booth. Had I known the number of my booth I'd have cast my vote and not surf the net.

'Fools' I muttered under my breath. There was a contact number.

I rang up.

It was the DC's office

A voice answered the phone pretty quickly. My hope started building up.

Me:Sir, I am calling from Kadma. I've been trying to locate my booth since morning. Could you help?

Voice:Sorry ma'am. why don't you try a few booths near your home. we've tried to allot the nearest booth to residents of a particular area.

Me:I've tried 5 booths and no luck yet.

Voice: you can check our site in the net.

Me: I'm sitting right in front of the computer but I can't click on 255 spots and check each and every voters' list. Could you tell me the booth numbers for Kadma?

Voice: I'll call another person and he may be able to help you.

I waited for 2 minutes and a second voice took over.

Second Voice: How may I help you?

Me: You may help me by helping me locate my booth. I want to cast my vote. Do you have any provision for me to feed my voter ID number to locate my booth. Or if I give you my name could you locate it for me?

Second voice: Sorry ma'am, the DIO (God knows what it stood for) is attending a meeting. We'll get back to you when he comes back. He may have a list.

Me: Do you have my phone number?? How do you plan to get back to me?

Second voice: No, ma'am. Why don't you ring us up in 10 minutes. We'll try to find out.

I was in a terrible mood by then-

Me: Do you have my name or my address to try and find out. What kind of system are you running? In the scorching heat we've been running from booth to booth to cast our vote and it is already two in the afternoon. Your dumb website has no purposeful information and your officer goes for a meeting taking the list with him and you guys have no backup copy. If educated people have so much trouble what would be the plight of illiterate people?

Voice: I understand ma'am but I am not in a position to help.

At this point I felt genuinely sorry for blasting the poor fellow. With our administrative officers unable to direct their sub ordinates, despite being treated like pampered sons in law, there was no point yelling at this man who was perhaps a peon or counter clerk. The cynic in me says that this was perhaps deliberately done. A professor in our colony went with his wife to cast his vote. His name was missing while his wife a home maker was allowed to vote since her name figured in the list. Another friend, a school teacher looked up my name wherever she went and I checked on hers. Neither of us could locate our names.

Tell me am I wrong in calling the election process a farce and waste of time?

28 comments:

Viky said...

I bet you aren't the only one!

ugich konitari said...

When we were children and our parents went to vote, the question of not being on a voters list never arose. I wonder why.

With all these voter registration campaigns, internet, ads, and fake netas, an impression is created that we can go and vote.

We are so good at finding loopholes in every rule. The EC doesnt do much about this. Busy as they are, straighteneing out the bad children who , as they used to say earlier, say "bad words"....

The politicians have just taken us for an Internet ride....

Renu said...

Once my husband went to vote and came to know that the vote in bis name has already been cast..thats the situation, and they dont clarify anything, becuase only then political parties garner votes.

Sraboney (bones) said...

Ha! That's bureaucracy for you, the bane of our existence...

Jeevan Baretto said...

You were to do your homework early. Not on the election day. Sorry for being rude.. but that is what I said to my dad who was in a similar situation.

I myself haven't voted till now but what to do, I haven't stayed at home for 7 years. But recently got myself registered in the voters list and got my voting card.

Usha said...

During the last assembly elections, I had gone to the website and taken down our details. So this time we assumed there was no need for it and went with the same details. At least we did not have to going around town trying to locate our booth.
Looks like it is not enough to have a voter id and the intention to vote. We need to do a lot more homework.
The funny part is that my maid had all the information. The candidates had visited their area and made sure all their names were in the list and that they voted.
Looks like Our votes don't matter as much.
I am really sorry you could not vote.

Just Like That said...

Everything's rigged... sorry you could not vote.
They don't want educated people to make a decision, only poor uneducated souls who believe all the fake promises that are made to them..

oorjas said...

The dhobis and bais are taken care of by the political parties. afterall they are the bulk voters of this country. how many of the litrate really care to vote.

SGD said...

I'm visiting your blog for the first time. And your topic is something I too am frsutrated about...our farcical election procedure . It is indeed frustrating that we want to be active participants in choosing our leaders but due to a faulty system are relegated to the status of passive onlookers.

Do have a look at my post on a related topic, whenever time permits..
http://whimsnwishes.blogspot.com/2009/04/democratic-rights.html

Hip Grandma said...

viky:i know.This is the plight of many.

ugich:those were days when honest people with genuine concern for the country led the nation.these days with the EC empowered the way it is we should get a better deal.but our political parties lack direction and our administrators cannot plan anything without being pecked by such politicians at every step.is it any wonder that ground work suffers? but who cares.we have dadas who ultimately manage to cast bogus votes. a ten year old can do wonders with the computer and internet.but those in govt offices are too lazy to learn.

renu:I can bet my vote was also cast by someone else.All this confusion was created for the very purpose i feel.

sraboney:Pleasing the boss is the first lesson these bureaucrats learn. They next learn to hold meetings where good quality chai and crispy samosas are served.These meetings serve the purpose of an official get together nothing more.

JB:Till the last election different parties would come home and give us a slip with our booth no. mentioned.This year no one turned up.I went to the same booth thinking that it would be the same this time too since we had always voted there.There were several others who had come there from our colony.The person who was checking the list had no clue as to where we were shifted and why.you are right.i should have checked out the previous day. But I had no idea that we had been shifted elsewhere and none from our colony figured in their list.

Usha:We had been voting in this booth since the 95 elections.Why the change no one knows.We had been sitting idle since Monday.The DC office could have deputed us to help.But Why would they?They must have felt some sadistic pleasure to see voters running from booth to booth.I think the maid servant and others like her were taken care of by different political parties who perhaps felt we would listen to what our head said and were useless for them.

JLT:You're dead right.

oorjas:I really wanted to vote though not very interested in politics.I felt it was my democratic duty.I could have enjoyed the day watching TV.It is these politicians and bureaucrats who spoilt my day.

SGD:welcome here.There is nothing we can do.We rave and rant but who cares? The powers that be know how to 'manage' and we have 'bhoots' (ghosts) voting in our place at different booths!

Prats said...

I wwonder if technological progress is aiding in the degress of our system...the process of making yourself a valid voter is so exhaustive, I'm sure most of them would rather they gave up than hunting down blank booths and disappointing processes.
I'm hoping there is going to be a uniform system oen day...I wonder if I can do something then

Vinod Narayan said...

Voting is the backbone of the democratic process. It should be flawless as if not you are ripping people of their core right.

Phoenix said...

Should have checked online before hand. The administrative officers arent upto the marks, but the lists are available with independent sites like jaagore.com, and if ur name was indeed missing, bringing it to their notice before the elections wd have helped.
I'm not defending anyone, just saying that the vote is far more important than the loopholes of the system, so any effort that could be done to ride them out is worth it.

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

Sad ... indeed very sad !

Greener Bangalore said...

Very well said and a very nice write-up.....Thanks for sharing madam....

Hip Grandma said...

prats:I too hope that we find some way for all those who wish to be part of the democratic method of electing their leaders get to exercise their vote.

Vinod: 'Voting is the backbone of the democratic process' ..well said.But it perhaps suits our leaders that thinking minds of our country are kept out of it.Welcome here.

phoenix: 'the vote is far more important than the loopholes of the system,'i agree and will try to be more careful and alert next time.We have assembly elections and people say that the local court has the list of voters and those not registered can get registered on the spot provided they have proof of their citizenship and identity.At least my open discussions served the purpose of finding what could have been done.Thanks for telling me about jaggore.com.I'll check it out too.Thanks for the information.If voting is my right it is also my duty to find out the details instead of waiting for candidates to come to our door and seek votes and for them to indicate the boothno.

CA:Yes it is sad that educated people also face such problems. May be our administrators think that the lower income/lower literate groups need to be guided and people like us can manage on our own.

Greener Bangalore:This discussion has been really helpful.I've realized that mere will is not enough.One has to work for it.

Vetrimagal said...

I am sorry you were unable to vote. I understand how it feels, not being able to!.

Last time when we had local elections we were out of station when the verifying agents ( from delhi!) came. My neighbours have told them we were out of country , but will be back by elction time. They just nodded their head and went away. when we returned in time for the elections, we found that our names have simply been struck off from the voters' list!.
I ran from pillar to post , but they said sorry, you ware out pf country!. .We have been voting for past 25 years from the same place , and felt very cheated.

Luckily in our city the voter enrolment took place with a great zeal, and through Internet I could fill up the forms and get the verification done. I relentlessely followed it up and finally our names have been reinstated with the voter identity card too! By and large the Elcetion commission officials were doing a great job in Hyderabad.

Hope you will get to vote the next time . All the best.

vishesh said...

ha ha I have to wait for a few more months to vote...well I have exhausted all my comments on other blogs about elections , 'democracy' and the whole nonsense... :P

Destination Infinity said...

I usually travel from Bangalore to Chennai and back in KSRTC. What these guys do in Bangalore, since there is not so much space is, they come in at whatever time they want - normally late, keep the bus where ever and then sell off the tickets of the passengers who have not been able to locate the busses in the last minute! The busses are never on time. But the same KSRTC busses in Chennai have the time written on the glass, is already waiting when you go, leaves the bus stand on time (mostly).

I really wonder how such a better service is possible by the same state owned service but in a different location? Like that we need to shift the officers in duty for elections regularly and make sure that they dont do their duties in their home constituency. Put some one from TN in Assam and someone from Assam in TN and then watch the fun!

Destination Infinity

Tys on Ice said...

u mite have something there...perhaps you can write a complaint to the concerned...I have never voted, yet i know that theres someone somewhere voting on my behalf...

i really hope things change

Hip Grandma said...

Vetrimagal: Welcome here.Lucky you.WE can't hope to get that kind of co operation in our town.i only hope we get to vote ar least in the assembly elections next year.

vishesh: very bad of you to have exhausted your comments elsewhere.I am 'Ka' with you :-((

destination infinity: welcome here.I feel the pleasnt weather in B'lore makes its people laid back.Just joking and I too feel that bus services in chennai are good tho' I can't say much about B'lore since I haven't travelled much by bus in Bangalore.The idea of transferring officials during elections would be good.As of now only the poor schoo; teachers and the like are sent off to polling booths in sensitive area.They cannot refuse election duty for fear of suspension.what do we do with administrators who mess up everything they lay hands on?

tys on ice: You think my vote went waste? not at all.Someone must have voted on my behalf.

kurrodu said...

I feel really sad to learn that you were unable to vote. Is there a way to petition en masse to higher authorities in your area who foresee elections or even report it to mass media so that these officers are held accountable. I feel enraged but helpless...:(

Hip Grandma said...

Kurrodu:I think the best thing would be to take the initiative and fight for your voting rights before the elections.Bringing the guilty officers to book is not easy.The Government rarely admits that its administrators were wrong.

Priyanka said...

I can't imagine that something as BIG as the election process is so ill-organized. At least their website should be more helpful. Very frustrating!

Pesto Sauce said...

We have two choices....either vote or let Mayawati become PM

Smitha said...

That is so shocking and sad! It really makes me wonder if there is some logic in this - illiterates do seem to vote and we almost always either don't find our names listed or can't even find the booth.. Sad...

Hip Grandma said...

priyanka:It is a wonder that our babus conduct even a badly organized election.Many would want to receive pay cheques at home even without lifting a finger.

pesto sauce:Yeah, that's why i wanted to vote.i shudder to think of my country being led by Mayawati or Lalu Prasad.

smitha;People like me will still hope that thing will be set right in the next election.The Assembly elections are due in Jharkhand.

Dotm said...

What an awful ordeal to have gone through for just trying to be a good citizen and trying to vote. Sounds very complicated.