Word of the Week #161:

Participatory

These days, our Social Media feeds tend to be flooded with people sharing their inked fingers.

For those unfamiliar with our democratic system, please refer to the following:

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Courtesy: Hindustan Times

As you can see, newspapers in India could definitely use a few good copyeditors…

Now, as I was saying, it is gladdening to see the youth as enthusiastic about voting as they are.

However, I do take objection to the narrative that voting is the epitome of our democratic participation. Our work does not end the moment we vote; that is when it begins.

Once we have cast our vote, we need to ensure the government appropriately represents our interests by staying apprised its operation, and by letting our voices be heard.

Voting without being informed about the performance of the past governments and the agenda of its opponents turns the entire electoral system into a popularity contest.

Quite honestly, even the Student Council elections in my college were based more on policy than some of the past elections I have seen.

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Word of the Week #157:

Discourse

I like politics.

I suppose that might seem strange to some people, but yeah, I do enjoy it.

It is the most entertaining spectator sport on this planet, some might say. And it is definitely the most consequential one.

But as with most sports, there is a right way to play. Unfortunately, most participants do not seem to appreciate that.

You can win by focusing on your own strengths, right?

Talk about tax reform. Talk about better public education. Talk about better public transportation. Talk about clean, cheap and reliable energy. And, occasionally, back up your talk with some actual performance.

When you have true game, you do not need to rely on thumping your chest, talking trash about your opponents and stretching the rules to their limits and hoping the referees do not notice. Those skills may be a part of a champion’s wide repertoire, but are not a winning strategy.

Just play hard and play fair. If you are good, there is no reason why you cannot win.

After all, what is the point of playing dirty and winning, when half the audience is only going to hate you and everything you represent for the next 4-5 years.

Word of the Week #146:

Forewarning

We live in interesting times.

Just last month, the central government gave itself the power to snoop into any computer.

No warrants, no limitations, no nothing. Unlimited unbridled power.

Big Brother is watching. Cool.

I guess I’ll have to set up a VPN and a private browser just to read the news. Oh, how the world has changed.

Additionally, political opponents of the ruling party were thrashed by the police last week. For what Crime? Wearing black clothes and releasing black balloons in the presence of the Supreme Leader.

Who here is surprised?

35 years too late,  but let us still take a look at the 1984 checklist.

  • Personality Cult? Check
  • Denouncement of Facts? Check
  • Rewriting History? Check
  • Hateful Propaganda? Check
  • Eternal War? Check
  • Unlimited surveillance? Check
  • Thought Police? Well, we are getting there

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Word of the Week #111:

Amend

Okay, consider the following situation:

A sports club has 3 coaches and 100 players, and they need to decide the colour of their uniforms.

Coach A wants it to be Yellow.
Coach B wants it to be Blue.
Coach C wants it to be Red.

Since they cannot decide it among themselves, they get the players to vote.

Such democracy… Much wow…

Coach A gets 44 votes.
Coach B gets 35 votes.
Coach C gets 19 votes.

The numbers do not add up? Well, there are always a couple of guys who chose to write in different responses. It happens.

Now, one would be tempted to jump on the phone and order 100 yellow uniforms, plus spares, perhaps? It seems to be the logical conclusion, does it not?

However, is it actually fair to override the wishes of 56 of the players, and force them to wear a uniform that they do not view as an apt representation? Is it the right way to inculcate team spirit?

What happens if Coach B and Coach C come together and suggest a jersey with Blue and Red stripes, which represent the wishes of a larger section of the players? Is that better?

On one hand, 54 is better than 44; on the other, nobody actually voted for that specific combination.

What if Coach C concedes defeat, since he clearly lacks support, and the players are then asked to vote for either A or B?

Apparently, this is what they do in France. And no, this is not a ‘France surrenders’ joke. Take a look at their Presidential Election, for context.

Now, with a possible swing of 21 votes, the results could vary significantly. One could say that these new results are a better representation of what the players want, but we have still not solved the concern about the dissatisfaction of the losing side…

To begin with, does a single vote truly and completely represent the wishes of an individual? Seems like an extreme case of oversimplification, to me.

What if a player X loves Blue, hates Yellow, and is somewhat fond of Red? His single vote for Blue does not capture the rest of his preference.

People are complex, you know.

Perhaps being able to assign a grade to each option would be a better representation?

I agree. Democracy is long, messy and annoying, and too many people seem it interpret it in their own ways.

But for now, it is the best we have.

And if it does not work for everyone, it does not work.

At the end of the day, we are all in the same team.

Word of the Week #72:

Sovereignty

Well, yes, this is indeed a day for celebration.

The roads are filled with men and women waving the tricolour, and the screen with speeches and colourful highlights of our relatively young nation.

Yes, this is, for the most part, a day for celebration.

After all, in most respects, we have arguably come farther in these 70 years than any other country, with the exception of China. Of course, anyone who knows anything about China would know the exact reason for that.

And if you don’t know, just ask Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Oh wait, you can’t, can you?

Anyway, let us return to our own territory, and let us make merry, for this is a day for celebration.

However, as I’m sure a teacher of mine would have reminded us, it is also a day for introspection.

Yes, we have make far, but this is still not nearly far enough, is it?

To quote the very first speech made in Independent India, or was it the last one made prior to independence… Anyway, the quote is what matters, here.

“That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today.”

— Jawaharlal Nehru, Tryst with Destiny

It is quite obvious that despite having achieved freedom from our colonial rulers, we haven’t yet succeeded in ridding our land of the plethora of problems that plague it.

Since I am not a JNU student, I probably wouldn’t just suddenly start chanting out the entire list. You live here, you know it as well as anyone else; if you don’t, you should probably be on the list…

Today, we stand at an undeniably interesting juncture in our planet’s history. A shift in the balance of power is already underway, and we have the opportunity to not just observe this historic moment, but mould it with our own will.

How exactly will that pan out? Time will tell, I suppose…

Word of the Week #46:

Indelible

So, it is finally 14th of Feb…

Oddly enough, I have never celebrated this day as most of the world does, or more often than not, strives to celebrate but fails.

In our household, this date has always had a special significance. Well, I say always, because 17 years does feel like an eternity for a 23-year-old, right?

Tonight, we remember the one who has often been considered the most memorable member of our family.

In Memoriam

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Bobo (14/2/2000 – 14/2/2014)

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
― Thomas Campbell


PS: Do not be fooled by the flowers… One suspicious move, and she would rip you into little shreds…

Word of the Week #43:

Democracy

Now, isn’t this a word we’ve been hearing for years? We remember reading about it in school. CBSE even has a subject Democratic Politics dedicated entirely to the idea.

Surely, it would not be wrong to assume we would all know what the word truly represents, would it?

And, surely, it would also not to be wrong to assume that we, as a people, would strive hard to uphold the ideals our forefathers chiseled and cherished for the past centuries.

Of course, most of us have seen enough of the world to know this not to be eternally and entirely true. Continue reading Word of the Week #43: