It has been more than a couple of weeks that I have been having a churning of multiple thoughts for putting my pen to paper (finger to the keyboard, rather). And I was simply devoid of any ideas. Today is the first day of the Bengali New Year 1421 and as we say Shubho Noboborsho, I thought why not try and make an attempt. And what better place than a peaceful chair at 35000 ft above MSL, up in the air.
I started blogging in 2006 with an account of my experiences of going back to school at the ripe young age of 30. 6 months down the line, I started another blog to capture the experiences and happenings with a new arrival in the family. The first blog ended as I finished the school after a year. So started two new blogs to capture my thoughts: one on cooking and the other was for "rest of the nonsense in my mind". Fortunately I have been able to somehow maintain these, though with extremely sporadic updates.
Now that I have crossed the initial cold feet of writing a post, let me come to my story for the day. I like to talk and I do that with multiple variety and cross section of people as, when and whom come across. I like to know people and experience their thought process. These days the flavour in this part of the world (and I am sure in many parts of the Western world), are the general elections, Mr Narendra Modi (NaMo) and Mr Rahul Gandhi (RaGa). And no this is not about NaMo or RaGa. This is about the conversation I had with the gentleman driving the car on my way to the airport. He is a frequent service provider for my journeys to and from the airport and keeps sharing his anecdotes / thoughts. As usual we got talking and we ended up to the flavour of the season - elections. And he had an interesting lot of dichotomies to share. As per him that NaMo is going to win the elections is a given; India needs a strong administrator. But Sir, Congress is the oldest party in India and they know the Indian political game inside out. RaGa will have an edge. I responded that RaGa has hardly any experience and is bumbling. He retorts that RaGa has the experienced team at his disposal and when a team is good, it is always the Captain who gets the credit. And then he posed a dichotomy, in Maharashtra, the current incumbent has drained and spoilt the state and will have no chance to get back to power (Incidentally the state is being run by the same party as at the centre). The conditions become further complex. He comes up with another observation. The local leader of his area (belonging to the incumbent party) has been in position for almost 20 years. So I ask him what does he do to garner that kind of long term support. He shares that the leader has lot of empathy for people of his constituency. If there is a marriage and he is invited, he will make it a point to visit even if it is for 10 mins. In this part of the world, that makes a huge difference. If there is a death in the family, he will be there at the head of the pall bearers. If the bereaved family do not have the resources, he provides. And then comes the punch. One month before elections, he starts a community lunch home, providing ample delicacies, twice a day. And he ends the session with "sir, still it will be NaMo"; and the oft repeated repartee these days "Ab ki baar Modi Sarkar" (this time it is the govt of Modi).
And I come to the moot question playing in my mind. What drives the Indian electorate? In developed economies (read Western countries) do you see such dichotomies? How much does the development plank and GDP growth rate really matter for the people at the lower base of the pyramid? And as the juggernaut of NaMo and RaGa rolls across the country in the pre-electoral drive, I am eagerly waiting for the verdict on 16 May when the election results will be announced.
This post was not about the Indian elections or the electoral strategy. That requires a separate treatise, which I am frankly not equipped to write. This was more an attempt to capture the simplicity with which people with much less educational degrees perceive life and analyse the trends. That the requirement of life can be so basic, may be astounding to many. But then that is how life is, in the vast GDP growth machine called India.