Showing posts with label Vote for Change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vote for Change. Show all posts

Friday, April 11, 2014

No, don't vote...

Its that time of the decade when politicians make hefty withdrawals from their secret Swiss accounts.
Its that time of the decade when the EC will seize mind-boggling sums of money, liquor and anything else the 'people' might need.
Its that time of the decade when laptop, mixer-grinder manufacturers and other businessmen will court the politicians.
Its that time of the decade (apart from diwali) when cracker manufacturers love. Double Bonanza!
Its that time of the decade when you will hear political fiction and fables.
Its that time of the decade when manifestos will be embellished by underpaid content writers and out of job copywriters.
Its that time of the decade when roads get a fresh coat of asphalt. Feast your eyes on them while they last
Its that time of the decade when you will see your politicians up close and personal. Remember to take their autographs

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, its time for the biggest song and dance routine in the largest democracy of the planet - The Great Indian Circus.

Interestingly, this time there are a lot of things that are different.
Call it the influence of our Arab cousins, we have become disenchanted and disgruntled. 
Corruption is no longer a closet topic and depending on who your daddy is, you'll either support it or defend it.

But like in everything else, we are very hypocritical too.
Ask around and chances are you will hear not many people are willing to vote.
Why? 'Because it won't make a difference'. 

When youngsters say this, I am flummoxed. When older people say this, I am exasperated. I remember that time when I lost my school captaincy elections by just 2 votes, and I begin to tell them how every single vote counts, but I am soon drowned out by their 'voice of reason'.

We all like it when we are handed out favors, when our bosses hear our suggestions (and when they are implemented), when our landlords listen to our complaints and act on them, when our apartment associations value our inputs (and our votes), when the local grocer gives us a little extra rice for that rupee you pay because you are regular, when we are rewarded for our performance at work after having worked for it. 

So when we love all this, why do we hate voting for our country so much?
Which part of the 'Corruption, Quit India' did you not like?

While many are celebrating how 100 million voters will vote for the first time, I ask what is the rest of the billion doing? Surely, we have more than 100 million who have chosen not to participate in the democratic dance this time too. 

Vote for the general elections this year, because this is probably the only ballot that will matter. 
Your apartment association cannot fix the creaking infrastructure. 
Your say in corporate affairs will probably earn you more, but if you don't vote, you're allowing the next batch of political scumbags to loot you of every last paise that you earn.
Your grocer might like you, but unless you choose the right politician, you will end up paying more for less. 

If you are still not convinced that you need to vote, I won't force you.
Cherish these final days where you could still read and write stuff like this.
Remember the days when petrol cost you just Rs25/litre.
When you could live an entire month with just Rs 15,000....
I could go on but you get the drift, right?

Get out and vote.
This is the time of the decade when you decide how your country and everything around you will be for the next 5 years. 
Make it count. 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rubbish! [304/365]

So what if we still don't have a comprehensive waste disposal system in place, we won't stop living it up. After a weekend of festivities our prudent authorities have confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza. Simply great!

I love chicken and although I eat it a lot less than what I used to until 2 years ago, I still think chicken is an integral part of an Indian's diet. Seeing how a pandemic like this struck at the pockets of the small poultry farmers and tourism in other Asian countries, you'd imagine India would have taken care to see it didn't occur here.

But then India has never had a comprehensive disaster recovery plan when it comes to natural or man-made disasters. We do have wonderful fiction on paper but when it comes to putting it out in action, we fail. So today Neetha declared that chicken is going to be off the menu for a while. Panic struck me. I had to educate her that there is no way that we could get it when we aren't exposed to infected poultry.

I can imagine how this is going to affect millions of people who depend on poultry in and around Bangalore. People are inadequately informed about the virus and since the government isn't doing enough to spread awareness, an outbreak like this leads to public hysteria.

It doesn't help that garbage is covering half of our streets. Years ago, Surat was in the spotlight for an outbreak of plague. While the city has managed to clean up since, you'd think our award-winning civic agency would've learned a lesson or two about public hygiene. It shouldn't really take an American newspaper to put a mirror for us to change.

I've said it before and I'll say it again- the blame lies on us.
Half of us elect people who won't disguise their greed and myopic public vision. The other half simply won't vote. The elected then rule with absolutely no fear of a recall and impose themselves on us. We complain. We threaten. And thanks to our electoral system, we loose our resolve to unseat the corrupt.
Repeat cycle.

If you haven't voted until now, I won't force you to change your habit.
But remember that by not voting for the right person/party, you loose the chance to change.
You become a mute spectator to mutiny that you could have prevented.
You put yourself at the mercy of scumbags that were voted by illiterate slum-dwellers whose only interest was in free packets of biriyani, booze and Rs 500. Or mixer grinder, fans, TVs and laptops if you are in TN.
But ofcourse, you won't need any of these since you are indignant and dont want to vote.
I won't force you to vote since you think you are not going to be affected regardless of who is in power.
But this I will tell you- By allowing one corrupt politician to be voted into power today, he/she is going to do everything in their power to remain there. They will loot as much as they can lay their eyes on. They will covet every rupee that you pay in taxes and you own. They will create laws that will affect you- the guy/gal who didn't vote for them. That's right, they wont discriminate. They will loot and swindle every anna paisa you have until you are dead. And then in five years, they will come back with packets of biriyani and empty balloons of promises and win their votes and you won't be able do squat about it.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rise! [49/365]

Recently, an Indian actor sang a song that went viral online.
The song, made up of a bunch of lyrics that can only be termed as utter nonsense, is a testimony to how technology combined with good marketing can make anything a raging trend (pun intended). It proved how anything can be marketed as long as it is packaged well and promoted by deep purses.

Large Corporates have, in the last decade or so have gradually become more aware of their social responsibilities and that's a good thing. Nobodys complaining. Having been a part of one such corporate responsibility, I've realized that it is a win-win situation.

A few days ago, an NGO that I am proud to be associated with - Unnati (read about my experiences here), raised a pitch for sponsorship and support through Mahindra Rise - an CSR initiaitive by Indian auto major Mahindra. (Read about the program here).

Unnati does some incredible work in transforming people.  Their goal to transform a million youngsters is admirable.
Difficult but not impossible. Formidable but just what our country needs. An entire generation of productive, educated and committed workforce.

And true to its words, I've seen the confidence and the growth in individuals, both young and old go through in just 70 days. That's right, it takes less than a quarter for an entire family to Rise. From poverty, from degradation, from isolation.
I've been a part of the selection process where hundreds of young boys and girls, many who have traveled from as far away as Sikkim and Nepal to attend the 70 day vocational training that Unnati gives free of cost. Many of the interviewers are dedicated volunteers who spend hours on a weekend screening candidates. Once selected, the candidates are on the right path to change. While Unnati does insist on punctuality and discipline, it never forces itself on any of its students.
This I believe is because many in Unnati treat its students as responsible adults who are capable of making their own decisions. Wise move, I think.

Towards the end of 70 day training session, I begin to see how it's students undergo a transformation into mature adults who are intelligent, accountable and extremely productive. In the process, I've seen timid semi literate girls and boys who are intimidated by English become strong individuals with character and poise, conquering their fear of the stage and the world.

Unnati has not lost any of the steam since its first batch. If any of the accolades and the praise they receive is any indication, I can say they are on a roll. But accolades alone cannot fund a project this size.
Surely Unnati needs a lot of support. In the form of dedicated volunteers who want to make a difference and in the form of money. I've seen many former students return to their Alma- mater to return a little of what they got and I've seen professionals render their expertise, knowledge and time for free.
Seeing as the NGO does not take anything from their students while giving them a lot in return, it is imperative that the able among us strive to do whatever it takes to support Unnati.

I've taken up the cudgels to spread the word and to try and spread the word about the great work that they do.
Mahindra Rise is a wonderful platform for Unnati. But for the NGO to win the kind of national recognition and support that this effort offers, Unnati needs 3000 votes.
That's not a high number. I've seen silly videos go viral with these numbers in mere minutes. I've cast my vote. Sure registration does take a minute, but wouldn't you register for a website if it mattered to you?
I ask that you visit the link right now (takes just a click), register for yourself (another minute or so), vote and ask your circle of friends to do the same too. And you're done, all within 5 minutes that you can squeeze in your lunch/dinner break.
It's that simple!

Strike while the iron is hot. Make a difference now by voting. And know that by your vote, Unnati is that much closer to achieving it's goal. While corruption and Anna Hazare might still be a cause worth fighting for, supporting organizations that strengthens our grassroots can never be a lost cause.


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