Tuesday, March 06, 2012

KTWV Volume 13 Issue 13: First time

In my almost 70 years and over 48 years as an adult with deep interest in politics, this was the first time I actually spent a few hours, in Finland, watching an election process in India.

In the 70s I was close with many politicians of all parties and knew exactly how corrupt all of them were. So I kept my distance.

Votes appear to have been cast this time in 5 States over a period of time and today was the counting and declaration of the results.

Results were announced from Goa (1.5 million), Manipur (2.7 million), Punjab (28 million), Uttar Pradesh (200 million) and Uttarakhand (10 million).

Over 240 million people were choosing their local politicians to serve them for the next few years.

It was a mixed bag of results with the National Parties less successful than the regional parties.

Watching on an Indian internet TV Channel, NDTV 24x7, I was quite intrigued by the mixture of languages being used by the participants.

Since I know English, Hindi, Punjabi (a bit), I wondered whether this channel was watched by the majority of Indians who are only familiar with their regional language.

Obviously not.

Quite a few of my juniors from my alma mater, St. Stephen's College in Delhi, were on the box, either as politicians in different parties, as tv anchor men or women, or as "experts". It was quite easy to recognise them as they had a different air about the way they handled the subjects.

I thought to myself whether I was the same!

I hope not, as I consider myself as individualistic rather than moulded by my alma mater characteristics, especially with regard to politics!

On the whole, following the election was an interesting experience, especially as I could view it from a distance and not be involved with it in any other way.

The main thing that struck me was that several corrupt politicians fell by the wayside.

The independent Chief Election Commissioner, Dr. S. Y. Qureshi, is also a product of my alma mater, about 10 years my junior. His interview on NDTV was very interesting as he has to keep his head above the murky waters of Indian Politics.

This experience was also followed by an interesting news item I noted in an Indian internet newspaper which said that the top two jobs in the Indian Administrative Service and in the Indian Police Service were also filled by Stephanians. These are IAS officers Pulok Chatterjee, the Prime Minister's Principal Secretary, and Ajit Seth, the Cabinet Secretary, and IPS officers, Nehchal Sandhu, Intelligence Bureau Chief and A. B. Singh, Central Bureau of Investigation Chief.

Many of my classmates and those who were in College during my years there, have served in very senior Government positions (62ers Mani Shankar Aiyar, Rathikant Basu, Ashok (Tony) Jaitly) and also as Ambassadors (62er Niranjan Desai, 63ers Siddarth Singh and Aftab Seth, etc.) in different parts of the world. They have also served in the United Nations, 74er Sashi Tharoor, the Commonwealth Secretariat, 62er Kamlesh Sharma, the World Bank, 63er Montek Singh Alhuwalia and 62er Sarwar Lateef, the Asian Development Bank, 63er Karthik Sandilya, and many many more such world bodies.

It would be interesting to compile a Who's Who of Stephanians!

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