Why not voting or NOTA can never solve problems of our democracy?


Today is the Election Day.

A huge number of people are going to decide the fate of governance, policy and socio-economic- political fate in their states.

I travel extensively and keep in touch with people I meet. For last few months everyone is discussing politics and I am sure for next few months, leading to 2019 general elections, Indians are going to talk only politics. A lot of people sound disgusted with the state of affairs and don’t want to cast their votes as they believe democracy is not the solution for India. Some believe in voting for NOTA to express their hopelessness.

There are many sections of the voters. People who are aligned with a political party and they vote based on their loyalty to the party. Second are the people who are underprivileged and vote for their personal benefit or for immediate financial gain. Some vote under pressure and some vote as their duty. Then there is a huge group of people who do not vote because a) they believe voting is not going to change anything for them, b) they do not believe in the current form of democracy.

This group is large and ranges from 25% to sometimes 50% in a constituency. Then there is a NOTA group which believes in their duty to vote but want to make a point that none of the candidates deserve their vote. It’s often called a wasted vote. It’s a small section but it can swing results.

They are correct also on many fronts. We are a developing nation fighting many socio-political evils. Our system is becoming obsolete and unproductive at a faster pace than the reforms. It also can be argued that this form of competitive democracy gives us an option to chose between two evils and people vote the known or a lesser evil. But evil, nonetheless. So, what’s the point of voting.

I believe in a democracy our vote is very important. Because whatever we may say the solution is going to come from the democracy itself.

Very often, when surrounded by a very difficult problem, we tend to start looking for solutions elsewhere.  Whereas, the entire human history has revealed that the solution always lies in the problem itself. Vedas say that the the herbs and plants that have cure for your disease are always in the geographical vicinity of where you permanently live. This is full of wisdom. But modern education has made us believe in utopias. Which is why a country like India borrows foreign concepts like secularism and revolution and fails miserably. Solution of India’s problems lies in India. In its democracy. In voting. If democracy is a problem then it’s solution also lies in the democracy.

This reminds me of a famous Mulla Nasruddin story:

A man is walking home late one night when he sees an anxious Mulla Nasrudin down on all fours, crawling on his hands and knees on the road, searching frantically under a street light for something on the ground.

“Mulla, what have you lost ?” the passer-by asks.

“I am searching for the key to my house,” Nasrudin says worriedly.

“I’ll help you look,” the man says and joins Mulla Nasrudin in the search.

Soon both men are down on their knees under the streetlight, looking for the lost key.

After some time another passer-by asks him the same question. 

“Mulla, what are you searching ?”

“I am searching for the key to my house.”

“Let me help both of you find the key.” the man says and joins Mulla Nasrudin in the search.

By and by, the passer-by kept joining Mulla in his search for the key. The word spread and entire village joined Mulla in his struggle to find the key to his house. 

After searching for most of the night, some man asks Nasrudin, “Tell me Mulla, do you remember where exactly did you drop the key?”

Nasrudin waves his arm back toward the darkness and says, “Over there, in the backyard. I lost the key there… in the backyard.”

Shocked and exasperated, the passer-by jumps up and shouts at Mulla Nasrudin, “Then why are you searching for the key out here in the street ?”

Mulla looked at the street-light and said calmly, “Because the backyard is dark and the light is here.”

Close your eyes and think of this story, reflect, ruminate, carry the story in your mind, identify yourself in the story, create a silence within you and let the story reveal to you its inner depth and meaning. Which “key” are you looking for…? The key to happiness, the key to health, the key to bliss, the key to freedom, the key to inner peace and tranquillity, the key to love, the key to God…which elusive key are you searching for…? Why are you looking for the key outside when you have lost the key deep inside within you…? Is it because there is more “light” outside than within…?

In a complex democracy like India, we tend to look for the solutions in utopias, like revolution or NOTA. But utopias never come.

So, participate in democracy. Vote. Because you are the problem and you are the solution. In realising this lies the state of #IAmBuddha. 

Note: you can also contribute to this column by sending your ideas, stories, fables, anecdotes. I’ll use them with due credits. 

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