It was 8.30 am in the morning as I was looking out through the car window at the landscape whizzing by. Every day on my way to work, this visual concoction of green and blue – the sugarcane plantations and the bright sea, has had the ability to bring in calmness, clear my thoughts and make me look forward to the day at work. A complete departure from all the traffic and noise back in Bombay.
But today was different. All that natural beauty outside the window was doing little to contain the roller-coaster of thoughts inside my head. This was the big election results day in India. The counting had begun early in the morning, and as I was away from all the action, I felt restless.
My fellow Indians here were also going through the same anxiety, and were unable to concentrate on their work during the day. We all could only imagine the hyper and emotional reactions, the circus in the broadcast media, and the electric atmosphere in Indian homes, and workplaces today.
As I write this, the counting is almost over, and the new government led by the indomitable Mr. Modi is all set to take India into its destiny in the next five years.
It is also at this moment that I reflect back on the two months of this overwhelming mass exercise. For the movie-loving Indians, this was the biggest blockbuster in the making. Also, these elections were truly different from the earlier ones, on various levels. We’ve never seen this kind of theatrical campaigning, and we’ve never had such polarised opinions amidst the voters. But what really saddened us was the nature of the political debate. The discourse had sunk to a new low, and was full of vile personal attacks. This was further aided by the media, all of it resulting in the main issues being ignored.
Now while one would still expect this in political campaigning, but individual voters too seemed incapable of having dignified discussions. From here in Mauritius, most of the discourse I had access to, was on social networking sites. Facebook and Twitter fuelled the rise of the ‘trolling’ phenomenon where individuals got personal and vile, with those who did not agree with their views. Modi followers, Gandhi loyalists, and Kejriwal fans kept the discourse alive and kicking. Amongst the Indians here in the island too, we all had massive differences in our opinion, but thankfully it was always a civilized discussion!
In the last few months, I’ve been trying to follow the various developments in the political system here, especially the electoral reforms, and can’t help thinking of the similarities in the nature of political debate in both the countries. On my drive back home, the faces of friendly Mauritians, will as usual, remind me of its historical connect with my own country, and all I can hope for both nations is for them to be lead by good, honest, strong and inspiring leaders.