“There are many things we can say about Indian democracy,” Mr. [Imtiaz] Ahmad [a retired professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University] said. “But it has given assurances, to minorities included, that things are negotiable.”
New York Times, November 29, 2006.
The same article also points out "a peculiar dimension of Muslim identity" in India: Muslims in India are riven by caste, having inherited their caste before conversion from Hinduism. But then this is true of Christians as well. The irony is that caste inequity is often used as the reason for conversion in the first place!
Even though I was born in a democratic country and lived in one, for the first time in my life I am eligible to participate in an election. Accordingly I proudly exercised that privilege today. In many ways it equaled the other first time experience people talk about – long anticipation, satisfaction and the impact of which may take some time to realize.
But there are a couple of observations I have to make. Neither during registration nor during voting was my citizenship verified. I guess I could have voted many times before! In India, there will be long lines and waiting in the hot Sun. Here, there was one person ahead of me. The expected turnout rate is around 30%. Does that mean, the population is apathetic or that the society is functioning so smooth that the government has become incidental?
In India, the ballot used to be marked with a flowing ink and so one has to fold the ballot paper in such a manner that the ink does not smear on to another checkbox as well. Election after election, so many ballots will be declared invalid on this count alone. With so many smart people around, nothing was done to eliminate or minimize it. Here, new electronic voting machines are being introduced with mixed results. But one would think that after this many elections, there would be a well established process to introduce new voting machines in a smooth manner.
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