I voted today. And as I made way towards the school that was acting as the voting location I could not help but look around. Shops were shut and there was not the usual humdrum that is expected on a day that falls in the middle of the week. Yet, the roads were not deserted. People walking along footpaths, riding on bikes or taking the autos were making way to exercise on their biggest rights. The right to vote, which we the citizens of this nation are given once in five years if not before, to choose the leaders who will charter a path of success, growth, inclusion and stability for the country.
A massive exercise that upholds the tenants of a vibrant democracy, voting in India is well-planned, well-structured and well- executed on most accounts. The Indian General Election 2019 will see a total of 900 million voters voting making it the largest ever general election in the world. With 38325 transgenders who will be allowed to vote for the very first time this election has probably been the most inclusive one ever. Across 1035918 polling stations voters will chose candidates for the 543 Lok Sabha seats over a span of 7 phases. The Election Commission of India an autonomous authority is constitutionally formed to administer the elections in India. Every election the voter list seems to be getting longer and each of these times the ECI has stepped up and delivered conducting the highest and most important function of democracy.
The Lok Sabha elections official logo’s caption reads, Desh ka Maha Tyohaar (The country’s biggest festival). A country that is known for celebrating umpteen festivals across different religions, regions and cultures, comes together on a grand platform to celebrate its right to elect their representatives to help function the world’s largest and leading democracy. And this is no mean task or achievement. A look around the global diaspora will leave you clearly surprised at how much at stake is democracy. With bans and boycotts, wars and terrorism, control and power it is a wonderful feeling of pride to be the citizen of a nation that in spite of its many flaws adheres and practices democracy’s very basic cornerstone. There is media coverage; there are campaigns, manifestos, alliances. There is a whole political system that works in hyper active mode in time of elections, wooing, cajoling, promising and inspiring the national voter. There are debates, arguments; counter-arguments as our daily news channel flood us with information. Social media has its own stories to play and there is a palpable edginess, feistiness and a surge of intellectual discussions as the nation heads into its biggest festival. The festival of democracy that is meant to cut across caste, creed, sex and religion binding each and every voter to that one essence of central focus.
Armed with our voter IDs we walk together to intelligently and sometimes emotionally chose the candidate from our constituency. And whether we understand or not much about policies, trade and promises, we still take pride in being important for this one day.
Maybe I am being naïve in trying to make the elections a mere festival of sorts. Maybe I am bringing it down to sheer feelings of excitement and empowerment without really hitting on the harder matters. Perhaps I also dramatize the effects of a balanced well thought of event that needs more study and updates before becoming a tool of self-importance. But I am cutting myself some flak, because common, I just voted today. And that has transported me to believe in a sense of nationalism and acceptance that I rarely find on any other days while calling myself a citizen of this country. There is too much information, analysis and a lot to process and break down into smaller tangible details. There is a lot of math, a lot of permutation and a whole of lot of political thinking that encompasses shrewd knowledge of people, power, geographies and demographics. Yet, for this one day I want to revel in being the boss. I want to allow myself to stare at the blue mark on my finger and feel a swell of pride. I want to be known as the citizen that voted, because she understood the importance of it. I want to know that my one vote could and will make the difference.
Yes, we have problems. In fact, big problems. And most probably after this one day, we will go back to figuring out our taxes, policies, corruption, agendas and so much more. But for today, I am happy to be the ID number that votes against a symbol. I am happy because I still see hope unlike in many other parts of the world. I know that democracy is here to stay and that is perhaps the biggest guiding light – the power rests with its people.