Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Search for the elusive visionary ...

The first thing I learnt from this election is that the apathy of the urban voter needs to done with. I mean, seriously, they need to understand the system better. They need to participate in the system better. The perception that all is ill in this country is more entrenched into the mind of the urban voter, primarily because he never has to fight for the basic needs that more than 50% of the country yearns for. And therefore it is necessary for him to understand the actual working of the system and appreciate the intricacies involved instead of forming an opinion with peripheral understanding.

Contrary to what many of them think, this country has not and will not to go to the dogs. This country can be made a much better place to live in, provided one stops to think in abstract terms. The urban voter can contribute to nation building by participating in many social activities. They can visit schools, orphanages, participate in discussions, read more newspapers and also continuously debate. Once the disgruntled voter gets a feel of how things are, and how they can be improved, we will see a huge surge in their participation. The urban voter needs to understand that civilian movements have seen lot of successes, the most recent being its active role in driving policy making in Rajasthan, and that example can be and needs to be emulated in other states.

Sadly, this disenchantment arises partly due to the coverage of this election by the English visual media too. They don’t cover the issues threadbare. They often cover only statements made by the politicians that make the viewer angry. What Sonia said about Lalu, what Lalu said about Advani, what Advani said about PM, what PM said about Nitish, what Nitish said about Modi, and what Modi said about the media dominated the news more than what these politicians were actually focusing on. Listen to their full speeches, and you will be astonished as to how the media, for most of the time, just choose to report the most irrelevant pieces from their speeches. What should have been aired was the actual issues, instead we had to constantly listen to what every other leader thought of the PM candidates in 2014!!!

One channel even had a discussion on whether the “real” issues are forgotten by political parties! Well, after listening to most speeches of the leaders, I think it is the media that needs to take the blame, and not the parties. And quite naturally, the urban voter who follows these news items gets frustrated with the system. Instead of presenting information in its entirety, the media is gladly assisting in adding fuel to the fire. The rural voter attends political meetings, and gets to listen to full speeches. His participation in the election process is something the urban voter needs to emulate.

Contrast this to the coverage given by the print media. I guess they have the advantage of time and space, but still the difference in the coverage is only seen to be known. I have followed almost all the important newspapers both in English and Telugu and am mighty impressed with the in depth coverage they gave. Of course, there were analyses that were biased, but there was always another analysis that did always give a counter!

Actually, the state media’s coverage was also much better than the national media’s. I guess this has to do with the fact that the state media has correspondents in every constituency. Though the campaign was vitriolic, all leaders also stressed on various schemes and policies, and the media did give a balanced coverage to both types of campaign.

The next thing that I learnt from this election is that though we don’t have a dearth of leaders, we do have a dearth of visionaries. We need a visionary who has the dare to convert his dreams into reality. It is really very important to have a visionary who will invest in infrastructure. We need to build more roads and improve connectivity (at a fast pace, not at a leisurely pace and then take solace by saying this is how things are done), we need visionaries who can build more hospitals and improve the health of the villages, we need visionaries to build better schools, we need them to find better teachers, we need visionaries who can connect with all kinds of people, we need visionaries who think practically and implement efficiently. We need visionaries who not only can provide employment but can also provide sustainable business opportunities to the poor. And we need visionaries who can do wonders with agriculture.

It is not worth it to sit and rue that we will never find such people. We already have some Chief Ministers in the country who have a vision for their states. What is required is that other Chief Ministers learn from them. We need visionaries to head all important ministries at the centre. We do not leaders who treat a ministerial post as a desk job.

Not just Chief Ministers and ministers, but there are 100’s of local representatives who have a visionary approach. All we have to do is go and find them, advertise their approach and make it an example for others to learn and implement. And most importantly, we need a visionary to lead the country too.

Sadly, this election did not throw up such a visionary and we still continue to search for that elusive visionary…

PS: Prannoy Roy was chatting on NDTV website while I was writing this blog, so I asked him " What do you think the media has learned from this election?". And he replied :-)

"Dr Prannoy Roy: Interesting question, Sudhir. I think the media has learnt or should have learnt not to sensationalise small events.. serious issues like hunger or unemployment do not come into focus because these are hard to sensationalise. But tiny events like shoe throwing or a bollywood candidate are blown up beyond proportion. So media needs to learn to focus on real issues during campaigning. "


Arun said...

Wonderful article sirji...Do you have any intension to take over Dr. Pronoy Roy??? :) Kidding!

Anurup said...

I agree with your criticism of TV channels. They suffer from extremely short term memory too. Even in cases which are sensational and really important, for example Botsa-Volkswagan issue, they follow it only for a few days and after that they totally forget about it.

Coming to urban voters issue, political parties campaign very little in urban areas. In urban areas you cannot rent a huge play ground and transport people in lorries and buses with the lure of biryani and sara. Or have a road show. You need have town hall meetings in schools, conference halls etc. and have a election manifesto geared towards the urban voters. None of the major political parties do these, therefore the disconnect.

In the recent constituency realignment, number of urban constituencies increased. Which means urban voters are becoming more important. But I believe these realignments happen once in 25 years or something. So it is a super slow process.

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