Casting ballot with eternal hope

So, we have exercised our constitutional right. Trudged to the nearest
school, pressed the blue button and returned triumphant with the tell-tale ink mark on our thumb nails.

That is, those of us who are the eternal optimists thinking that a new government will change our political scenario as magically as Cinderella’s shoes.

We have forgotten that the good guys of today can turn out villains tomorrow.

Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely was never more true than in politics.

The best of men have emerged with feet of clay once they assumed power.

But, that is not the theme of this article. It is about the things that were promised, the resolutions that were made and, more significantly, the issues that were not mentioned.

They had nothing concrete or positive to tell the electorate except insulting their opponents with unintelligent comments.

If we sit back and analyse the gist of electoral speeches, what were the tangibles that the peoples’ representatives offered?

They may have provided rich material to the media — especially the electronic version —with their clownish acts and ludicrous speeches.

But, nothing beyond that. Where were the plans and programmes for tomorrow? The concrete steps to eradicate illiteracy, unemployment, poverty and the low quality of living for which this country has become a leader?

What do catch phrases like “women’s empowerment” or “good governance” mean?

No tangible steps were spelt out to explain how these noble ends would be achieved.

All that we heard was pure oratory. Not a word was spoken by aspiring parliamentarians to show how more girls will be enrolled in schools, how drop out rates will be reduced in the coming years or how employment and employability will be enhanced.

Women’s empowerment became a mere political slogan, like good governance.

We did not hear one creative idea about how women’s health, education and safety would be ensured, or, how they would become active partners in that same good governance.

Again, not a word about the exploding senior citizen population in the country.

How those of them, living in extreme poverty and deprivation, would be protected against disease and other privations of an aging generation.

Untouched topics

There was a lot of talk about the environment.

But, no proposal to make sure that our cities were made people friendly, our rivers and lakes freed of pollution, our forests and wild life protected, our natural resources preserved against senseless vandalism.

Not one politician explained the measures that would be taken to achieve these ends. Just as nobody talked about improving our public services like mass transport, communication and other facilities.

Or, how to keep cities clean, adopt proper garbage disposal systems, improve health services and ensure a sound education base for the next generation.

A country does not shine because of a few hi-tech industries or a handful of millionaires.
Its schools, hospitals and basic amenities for the majority population speak volumes for its progress.

Of India’s 700,000 rural schools, only one in six have toilets.

They talked of the Right to Education. But, no one talked of the problems that deter children from going to school, or why they drop out so easily.

Not one explained what is the pull that draws a child to the classroom.

Is it a mid day meal or is it a creative teacher who has him glued to his desk? Why did not our future parliamentarians talk about appointing teachers who can draw a child like a magnet to the classroom?

Why did they not spell out how schools will be improved with better buildings, more physical space and basic amenities?

Paying lip sympathy to the girl child was easy. But, providing her with schools that are safe, accessible and friendly is more difficult.

We did not hear one future leader dwell on these issues.

As for the healthcare system, we have a mere 23,000 public health care centres for a population of a billuon plus.

These have to provide maternal and child health care, free medicare, safe water supplyand proper sanitation to prevent the outbreak of diseases.

They have to provide referral medical services for serious ailments among others.

Such issues did not figure in the thunderous speeches made on public platforms.

If our politicians thought that public health, education and improved life styles for the 1 billion population was trivia, and preferred to indulge in empty jargon which meant nothing for the citizens, that mark on your thumbnail was just a waste of ink.

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