The biggest challenge for the city of Mumbai is her own people—those who refrain from voting. At a time when environment clearances are being given out, left right and centre, for projects which are swallowing up every smidgen of open space, voices are screaming themselves hoarse over the loss of the city’s remnant green cover, citizens should not require any push to come out to vote. The issues of security, inclusiveness, development and saving our beloved city from further deterioration should be our driving force.
In the last five years, politicians and the government have made many promises. It is a tragedy, candidates are wishing the public had addressed macro issues with them, only going to show their parties have failed to address these at the ward level. This brings us to one of the important sociological and psychological theories, popularly known as Maslow’s theory of self-actualisation. Abraham Maslow, in his paper, ‘A Theory Of Human Motivation’, spells out the hierarchy of needs. Basically, what it says is: Only when their basic needs are met can individuals turn their minds to higher goals.
The basic tier includes physiology and safety– roti, kapda and makaan. Interestingly, while the current government promised to bring back black money (an insane claim — banks do not operate to give away their funds and holdings) and claimed to eradicate corruption, it is still speaking of the same. To distract us from such pressing, mundane issues, the government this time decided to tap instead, into our nationalistic fervour. The Pulwama attack, Pakistan capturing our Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and the counter-attack by India, in which the government claimed 350 people had been killed and the ensuing controversy around the claim.
Firstly, all leading television channels, which the government can manipulate, ensured its assertions harping on the ‘first-ever strike’, ‘counter-attack’ were aired and all those questioning the government were labelled as anti-national. This set the tone for the elections. So conveniently, the Rafale controversy regarding one person and his company profiting, the highest authority abusing power to help the industrialist, was no more the subject of discussion. The tone was now reset for nationalism, at fever pitch.
The lowest point of this election has been the bid to smear the name of 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare, the then anti-terrorism squad chief who was on the field when Mumbai was witnessing terror attacks on November 26, 2008. He was hit by a bullet and every citizen of this city (well, across the globe) knew about it. He died, trying to protect us. The main accused in the Malegaon blasts, Pragya Singh Thakur, launched this smear campaign, to humiliate his memory. Even though she is contesting from Bhopal, the fact is the head of the nation has supported this accused and her false claims of being tortured by Karkare. The head of the country and the president of the party they represent have both supported the accused.
The candidates all these parties have fielded, their criminal backgrounds, cases against them and the ideology they promote is something voters need to look into and bear in mind. One cannot turn around and complain, saying they’re all are the same. No, they are not. One need not twist one’s brains to see the obvious – the sentiment propagated by ruling parties is unfounded. Only certain communities and religious groups are expected to prove their secularism and national pride each time, while it is being drilled into the majority, their identity is at stake. Our national security is not being threatened by the minorities. The reasons for feeling insecure are primarily due to the higher number of young and able who are unemployed.
The government has failed to provide jobs and generate employment. There are no more government jobs, stiff competition in the private sector and this situation will only worsen in the coming days. However, instead of addressing this issue, there is more emphasis on cows, beef-eating and vitriol being spread about a few communities. Considering the mess we are left with today – fewer cattle farms, scarce fodder, lack of water and the cattle left to die – one can only wonder how this qualifies as veneration of the bovine mother. The real issues – farm distress, unemployment at record high, crumbling infrastructure, groaning public transport, pollution, safety of children, women and seniors, health care… the list goes on and on but no one is listening. Who wants to stick their necks out and actually acknowledge the existence of such plebeian woes, promise to do something and risk being held to account?
This is the backdrop in which the elections have been conducted. What the voter, especially in the south side of town feels, is, it is pointless to vote and that all candidates are the same. Sure, if one believes this presumption, that itself should be the driving force to get out and vote because change has to begin with oneself. Political alliances do help rule out the division of vote, but then your apathy begets you leaders with whom you have little connect. They have not been seen since the last elections and have not necessarily ever visited one’s locality. These are sound points and strong enough to question; Is a change needed at the top? If one strongly believes in this, then every citizen has to assert his/her right. (City Editor)
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