Elections ahoy: a carnival of democracy

As is well documented (and captured on celluloid), the world’s first ever election was held in ancient India in 87,561 BC

March 30, 2019 04:04 pm | Updated March 31, 2019 03:35 pm IST

This candidate is way ahead in polls. He is sure to be elected.

This candidate is way ahead in polls. He is sure to be elected.

So, the day India has been eagerly awaiting since May 2014 is finally upon us. Don’t get me wrong. I mean no disrespect to the past five years of stupendous achievements — achievements you would have learnt by heart had you been a diligent student of WhatsApp University. What I meant is that we finally have a chance to express our collective gratitude for 1,825 achhe din by voting for another 1,825 achhe din .

As a citizen of the largest and oldest democracy in the world, I can’t help feeling sentimental when it comes to adult franchise. How can I not, when it is India that invented democracy? As is well documented (and captured on celluloid recently in a two-part documentary called Baahubali ), the world’s first ever election was held in ancient India in 87,561 BC.

In those days, India was known as Mahishmati. The elections, announced by King Bhallaladeva, were conducted by Kattappa, the world’s first independent Chief Election Commissioner. This historic election was won by Rana Daggubati, who became the first Prime Minister of ancient India, while Tamannaah Bhatia became the leader of the Opposition. These are well-known facts that you will find in any history textbook, especially in Gujarat.

Grand spectacle

Given this magnificent historical legacy, it is a matter not of accident but of pride that this glorious carnival of democracy that is set to unfurl like a red carpet at the feet of Bharat Mata in the coming weeks has no parallel in this world or in any of the seven lokas that make up the multiverse.

In fact, most human brains, including my own, are too small to contain the sheer magnitude of the spectacle. But if you happen to be a bot with 56 GB RAM and an expandable memory, try and imagine: in April and May, 900 million Indians will momentarily stop taking selfies, stop sharing fake news, and look away from their mobile phones long enough to cast their vote, or vote their caste, as applicable. And nearly ₹60,000 crore will be spent on the sale/ purchase/ renting of politicians, canvassers and voters. This is only in the offline universe.

It’s all high-tech

In the digital realm, 50,000 admins will operate 100,000 WhatsApp groups that have been set up specifically to empower the people of India with evidence-backed, statistically sound, and truthful information so that voters can make the enlightened choice of voting for a Chowkidar Sarkar.

Today, Indian elections have become so advanced that everything is high-tech. All voting will be done on EVMs, a special instrument that completely eliminates electoral fraud by making it impossible to detect electoral fraud. Another brilliant innovation of our democracy is the electoral bond. Inspired by the EVM, the electoral bond is a financial instrument that ushers in transparency in political funding by eliminating transparency in political funding.

Chowkidars and capitalists

What I love the most about our elections is that they are the freest in the world. Everyone has a place. Men and women, rich and poor, thieves and chowkidars — all enjoy an equal right to have their names on the ballot paper. Indian voters are so discerning they can discern your zeal for serving the nation even when there is none.

This is why you don’t need a record of public service in order to contest. Hardened criminals, talented fraudsters, opportunistic civil servants, crackpot celebrities — all are equally entitled to become elected representatives of the malnourished, jobless, indebted yet aspirational masses of India. They need just two things: money, and more money.

Not surprisingly, along with our petrol, our democracy is the most expensive in the world. This might seem like a flaw, but it’s not. It is only because Indian elections are such costly affairs that India’s chowkidars are the most highly paid in the world. If you don’t believe me, go on Twitter right now and pick any ten chowkidars at random. Add up their individual net worth and divide by ten. I guarantee you their average net worth will be not less than 560 times your own inflated net worth.

Some people wonder: Why spend so much time and resources on an election whose results, as in 2014, are a foregone conclusion? Why not announce the results also along with the polling dates? Well, just because everyone knows who the bride and groom are doesn’t mean a family won’t bankrupt itself over a grand wedding.

An election in India is the political equivalent of the family wedding. It is the solemn occasion when our politicians, with the world as witness, do the seven pheras with India’s poor, jobless and needy. It doesn’t mean, however, that they will break off with their one true love, the crony capitalist.

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