Friday, May 22, 2009

Democracy at work

India recently held parliamentary elections to elect a new government and a prime minister. It was a fascinating experience to watch the entire process from up close.

In a country that seems to thrive in chaos, order somehow manages to emerge at the other end. The ruling Congress party and the prime minister Manmohan Singh were handed a mandate by the people and returned to power for a second term. The verdict was hailed in both India and abroad as a vote for sustained growth and development. Stock markets reacted favorably and foreign investments immediately started accelerating. The common man seems to be happy at the state of affairs.

Several hundred million voters took part in this election. Stories of voting machines being dispatched to remote regions of the countries (deep forests and high mountains) to enable tiny groups of voters filled the newspapers. The entire process lasted for several weeks as the infrastructure required to conduct elections on a single day would be unimaginable. Despite fears of unrest, the elections were held in a peaceful manner. The media provided a huge level of transparency in the process. Popular movie stars participated in ad campaigns to promote awareness and encouraging people to vote. The massive young population of India was truly engaged in the process as was evident by the measures taken by each political party to connect to this segment of the population.

In the end, the system worked as it was intended and the result will make India a stronger nation in the coming years.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Moo On!

It's been nearly two and a half years since I moved to Bangalore and I have assimilated fairly well. I have gotten so used to things that are typically Indian that I don't even notice them any more. But some days I try to consciously look out for those Indian experiences that have no parallel anywhere in the world.

This morning was one of those days. I was in the car stopped at a traffic light at a major intersection in Bangalore. On the opposite side, I noticed a bullock cart stopped at the intersection! This is in the middle of peak hour traffic with buses, cars, auto-rickshaws, scooters, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks etc. all trying to find their way forward and rushing to get ahead. Amazingly enough, I noticed that the vehicles around the bullock cart had somehow made way for it and were patient enough to allow it to make it's way at a lumbering pace.

No outrage! No drive by shooting!

What a country!