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ಕೃಷ್ಣ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿ - Krishna Shastry
ಪ್ರಾಣಿ ಹಕ್ಕುಗಳು, ಶುದ್ಧ ಸಸ್ಯಾಹಾರ, ಪರಿಸರ, ಆರೋಗ್ಯ ಇವೆಲ್ಲವನ್ನೂ ಒಳಗೊಂಡ ವೀಗನಿಸಂ ಎಂಬ ತತ್ವದಲ್ಲಿ ನಂಬಿಕೆ ಇಟ್ಟಿರುವ ಒಬ್ಬ ಸರಳ ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ ನಾನು.
ನನ್ನ ಇತರ ಆಸಕ್ತಿಗಳೆಂದರೆ ನೀತಿಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ, ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕ ನೀತಿಸಂಹಿತೆಗಳು, ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕ ಆರೋಗ್ಯ, ಆವಿಷ್ಕಾರಗಳು, ವಿಜ್ಞಾನ, ಕನ್ನಡ ಭಾಷೆ, ಭಾಷಾನೀತಿಗಳು ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ.

I am a simple Kannadiga following veganism, that cares about animal rights, pure vegetarianism, environment and health.
My other interest include ethics, public healthcare, public policies, innovation, science & technology, Kannada language and linguistic policies.
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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Confusion of a common man - Whom should I vote for and why?

Ethical Dilemma

You must have heard about classical ethical dilemma questions. Let me also present to you one. Lets say that 3 people have stood for an election – X, Y and Z. Lets say that based on their experience and expertise, following is the predicted crime statistics in the region depending on who gets elected.

X: 10 rapes, 20 murders, 50 robberies will happen and most with his/her direct involvement
Y: 5 rapes, 10 murders, 25 robberies will happen and some with his/her direct involvement
Z: No crimes will happen in his/her tenure

Now, lets say that you and your friend are human rights activists. You are the last ones to vote and current vote standings are as below:

X: 20
Y: 19
Z: 4

Whom would you two vote for?
-          Would you vote for Z recognizing his/her superior qualities? But then you will let X win and indirectly contribute towards higher crime rates.
-          Then would you rather vote for Y so that at least you can look forward for lesser crime rates? That means you will be a direct supporter of a criminal candidate, and it would be fully against your principles and what you stand for. Note that you will also be discouraging Z and make him/her believe that no one cares about truly good governance.

So, what is your answer? I request you to write down your answer in the comments section before you read further :-)

Should I support Anna Hazare’s political party?

As a common man, I am confused and clueless regarding whether to support Anna Hazare or not, especially with the latest developments. Lets hypothetically consider a situation where a (relatively) less corrupt party/candidate is likely to secure a narrow victory over a more corrupt opponent. And lets say that a significant percentage of former’s vote share is due to people who care about good governance and reduction in corruption. Now, Anna will not accept even slightest corruption, so he rejects the first guy, and fields his own candidate. Result? The more corrupt party/candidate easily wins because good guys’ votes are split.

This phenomenon happens even today when an independent candidate with good track record contests (or when multiple good parties field their candidates). Some people who otherwise would have voted for less corrupt party/candidate would now vote for such independent candidate and the victory becomes easier for more corrupt party/candidate. But when we think about a big movement like what Anna Hazare is speaking, I get scared, because I feel the split will be even bigger. This will result in more corrupt party winning elections very easily, and they will even call it victory of democracy. It would be nightmare.

One could theoretically argue that vote split can happen among corrupt people also, thus making victory of good person easier. However, right now we are talking about another “good” party entering the elections, and many fear this will further split votes among good candidates, thus favoring corrupt parties/candidates. So, now we have a paradox – does this mean that more and more good guys should not enter politics?

During the next election should my goal be to vote for best candidate or vote in such a way as to prevent worst candidate from getting elected?

Tragedy of our democracy

Tragedy of our democracy is that even if only 30% of eligible voters vote, and even if the leading candidate gets only 30% of overall votes, he/she gets chance to represent the constituency. Non-voting of 70% of eligible voters doesn’t make the election itself null and void, 70% of votes going against the leading candidate is not seen as disapproval for that candidate. With only 9% of eligible voters’ support, he/she gets elected. What can be bigger mockery of democracy?

Another tragedy as I personally see is allotment of ministry positions. Most of the times this is done not considering experience and expertise of person, but to satisfy egos of such people. I really would like to see objective criteria and maybe even formal evaluations before people can occupy such responsible positions. Being just an elected representative should be a necessary criteria but should not be sufficient.

Do I see Anna Hazare as a great leader?

Its great that he is against corruption, that’s good but that’s not the only thing we look for in a great leader. Sadly, Anna seems to lack both philosophical depth and wit, hence fails to put forward a great vision and more importantly a concrete plan to achieve it. He comes across as a simple person who is just tired of corruption and wants an ideal and self sustaining system that doesn’t tolerate corruption. Even his fasts are not backed with great strategies that Gandhiji used to adopt, and Anna seems to be only a dull image of Gandhiji.

Regarding all those stories about Anna’s village and his dictatorship, I prefer to sideline them as conspiracy theories.

How do I view Jan Lokpal Bill?

I never understood the significance, importance and need of Aadhaar card till now (in its current format); similarly I never got an answer regarding the guarantee that Jan Lokpal bill will not be yet another corrupt system. I mean, when we see that most people around (including many so called respectable ones) are corrupt in some way or other, how do I know that this new system will not follow the same good(?) old path? Or is it something like RTI which has revolutionized at least some things (Exactly how RTI managed to make such a big difference though – I mean, what makes government babus to share requested information accurately and that too in timely fashion? It’s a mystery that I am trying to unravel).

At a high level, Jan Lokpal bill does look like a super stuff when compared to government version. I mean, I get lots of forwards in emails and Facebook, you see. They highlight that government is trying to make us fools and their version of Lokpal Bill is not at all strong and is just eye washing. But apart from that, I really don’t know which one is good and practical. After all, I am just a commoner and do not understand intricacies of law, governance, policies, execution/implementation and many more such things. How can I say which one is good? My gut feeling says I should support Janlokpal bill and that’s what my current stand is. However, the doubt does exist deep inside. And this doubt naturally becomes a much bigger question mark when it comes to Anna Hazare starting a political party. I shouldn’t go with only a gut feeling, should I?

Note: Regarding Jan Lokpal Bill vs. government version, I wonder what is the opinion of industry leaders, NRIs, non-Indian political researchers and observers? Not sure, Wikipedia also does not have sufficient references on this.

Lack of unity in Anna’s camp

Another big point of concern is the lack of unity within Anna’s own camp; it surely was a big turn off and trust breaker. Recently in a TV interview when questioned about agitation within BJP, its president Nitin Gadkari cleverly answered that it is a sign of true democracy within the party, unlike Congress where `high command and followers’ culture exist. Is this the case with Anna’s camp also?

Role of Media

In many cases I can clearly see that maturity level of journalism is very low. As a common man I can easily come up with several logical and smart questions to politicians and various authorities, and I can see that media is failing to ask such questions. Is it because they are under pressure? Is it because they are owned by people/institutions with vested interests? Is it because it is simply impractical? Or is it because they are dumb sometimes? Lastly, or is it that they have forgotten all ethics and are only after TRPs with least amount of controversies? I think it’s a mix of all these. I definitely appreciate many journalists who work hard and do justice to their jobs, but at an overall level media is proving to be irresponsible, ineffective and even harmful in many cases. And this leaves common man confused and manipulated to the core. What is the solution?

Complex human relationships

When British were ruling us, it was easier to say that we were fighting against them. But now we are fighting against corruption within our own people, this battle is way too difficult because we don’t know who is friend and who is foe, and same people change under different circumstances.

Recently when I visited my home in Kasaragod, my mother made some special dishes for me. Then my father acted jealous and jokingly said to my mother “After all he is your blood relative, and I am not, that’s why you don’t make special dishes for me, isn’t it?” Though that was just a silly joke, I see it as an excellent example of how relationship equations can be viewed in unexpectedly complex ways. When we expand our view to macro levels, relationship between human beings get extremely complicated due to factors like geography, language, caste, color, gender, age, education, profession, beliefs and more. When almost every person around me thinks about one or more of these factors while casting vote, how can I alone vote only based on the factors that are truly important from governance stand point?

My expectations from anti-corruption activists

Actively catch isolated incidents of corruption

I don’t think it is too difficult to capture incidents of corruption if you really intend to do it. Starting from marked notes to hidden cameras, microphones there are easy ways. I would appreciate if activists start using these weapons in a widespread fashion. At least this trend can be started in small places where backlash will be lesser. Then the trend will automatically spread elsewhere. Are we making good use of existing laws and technology? I strongly believe that these undeniable evidences against corruption will be much more effective than new set of laws.

Evaluate candidates and elected representatives in open public

Can’t there be any objective comparison between elected representatives (between past and present and also among present representatives) in terms of various qualitative and quantitative parameters? During election times I believe activists can arrange open TV debates among candidates, prepare comparison sheet with involvement from eminent people from that area and share it with people, and so on. They can also conduct annual appraisals of elected candidates. I think anti-corruption activists should try and build such an institution that is highly unbiased and respected, and conduct these kinds of activities. This will surely put more pressure on candidates and improve the quality of our democracy.

5 comments:

Papu said...

Well presented.. this why I started to think that democracy is not really a solution for all the problems as democracy itself presents problems to solutions such as corruption and governance. Increasing consciosness and political participation of the people seems to be the way forward.

Anonymous said...

The author has gone out of his mind by making permutations and combinations of hypthetical situations. You vote for the best person and leave rest to destiny. That is the essence of democracy and your best foot forward.

ಕೃಷ್ಣ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿ - Krishna Shastry said...

Dear Anonymous: Democracy has many forms and variations. I request you to read more on it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy

Regarding leaving rest to destiny, yeah, its a way out, we can leave so many things like that, including voting. Why bother about anything at all?

Sambasiva Rao Gaddipati said...

Hi Shastry,

I liked your views on the last section - candidate evaluation.

Due to the lack of metrics to measure candidates, we often make wrong choices.

The problem with creating such a metrics, is that people get targeted for publishing facts and hence not safe and practical.

So something which is crowd sourced and anonymous might be a better option

- Public channels like pbs, npr have worked well
in the US. May be AIR (all india radio) should
take up a similar thing

- create Wiki entry for each candidate
and let common people fill in.
(might not be very reliable but we will have
something to look at)

- http://getup4change.org/rti/ seems like something similar

I hope the process gets more transparent in the days to come and people are convinced that it is safe to express their opinions publicly.

All of this might help only the internet users in the country. For non-internet users, the problem is tougher to solve.

Anonymous said...

My opinion on your confusion of which bill is good. Is it the govt version or the anna version?
I would go with anna’s version. Even I don’t understand the intricacy of both the bills, but the INTENTION of the people behind it matters. Even if there is a loop hole they have the will to correct it as they intent to make India a corrupt free. Ultimately it is always the intention which manifests.

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