Thursday, April 16, 2009

India Elections 2009 -- Strengthening Democracy Through Lived Practice

My NYTimes Comment #18 published
April 16, 2009 2:23 pm

A Mega Election

There is poverty, hunger, homelessness, disease, the poor can't eat their vote so what is it good for, our Indian democracy has often been tested and found wanting, India still has a long long way to go to satisfy the most basic necessities of her millions.....

Yet , what an election! There are hundreds of candidates and scores of local and regional parties. Everyone seems to be voting! It's creative chaos under the rule of law. Conducted in 5 phases and lasting a month long with 700 million plus voters eligible to exercise their franchise. There's nothing like it, anywhere.

India's Lok Sabha elections are an unprecedented exercise in Democracy.

In 1947, after an historic freedom struggle led by the iconic Gandhi and a host of compassionate leaders like Maulana Azad,(whom Gandhi called his "conscience keeper") India chose to have a nation-state that was NOT based upon religious identity, but on universal principles of individual rights and responsibilities, yet to be realized in full.

That dream of a democratic secular India, building upon an ancient history and a vibrant, composite culture, has frequently failed to meet the most important needs of its civil society.

But despite our many flaws, our many and continuing inequalities, we have persevered and persisted to become a sovereign nation-state that endures, improve the lives of its diverse peoples and strive to become of force for good in the world.

Satyameva Jayate, Inquilab Zindabad and Jai Ho!

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
New York Times copyright
Local Issues Dominate as India VotesBack to Article »

Neither of the major parties is likely to prevail in the five-week election without the help of smaller parties.

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