SECULARISM AND THE MINORITY VOTE

Guest post by T.R. Ramaswami

With elections just six months away things will begin to get hotter and hotter as this election is in a way a no-hold barred contest. And after the recent 5-state results even more so. The country has arrived at an electoral turning point. It is in this context that some of the balderdash relating to some of the issues that have a knack of sprouting just before elections needs to be clarified.

The first issue is “secularism”. What is secularism? It means that the state does not sponsor or have an official religion and al citizens are allowed to practice any religion of their choice. There is also another important religious choice like NOTA – YOU NEED NOT HAVE A RELIGION OR BELIEVE IN GOD. In fact atheists are the most secular. But secularism has been made political by first introducing the word in the Constitution during a turbulent time – the EMERGENCY. Now were we not secular from 1947-1975? India is not secular because that word is there in the Constitution. It is there because the majority in this country belongs to a secular religion. Show me one country in the world which has a minority religion of more than 10% and is secular.  And show me one home country of a minority religion here which will allow even the majority there to say and do what they can here. Secularism has become a political tool where even God has to deliver an acceptable rate of return during elections. Perhaps the correct spelling should be “SUCKULARISM”.

If we are secular then we need a secular civil code. Let us formulate one and throw it open WITHOUT COMPULSION to all Indians. There are many who want to boot the religious clergy of mullahs, bishops and purohits out of their lives. In one generation religion will cease to be a vote garnering issue.

The next subject is the statement that the minority vote is so important that it will decide the fate of any election. This is an insult to the minority and the majority. It implies that the minority individuals have no will of their own and are no better than a herd of buffaloes. But there is one more angle. If the majority voters are about 65 crores (80% of the voters) and the minority is only 15 crores then how does the majority allow the minority vote to be the deciding factor?

So here is a clarion call for the majority. Register yourself and come out to vote. This call is not to ask you to vote for this or that party but ONLY TO VOTE. After all in a democracy the majority decides and what it wants prevails. Right?

And remember – if the majority does not vote then it has no right to wail or complain that the minority is deciding the polls. They will. And bad netas are elected when good citizens do not vote.

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NOT ONE – A BILLION

Guest Post by: T.R. Ramaswami

In some form or the other a Lokpal bill will definitely be passed by Parliament. However this Lokpal is only an apex level investigative authority who will act when a complaint is made. How different he will be from the CVC or CBI or whether the same fate befalls this office remains to be seen. There is no point having an investigative office when the system allows the corrupt and criminals to get in. That drain must be blocked with an effective net – NOTA.

If NOTA gets the highest votes, all candidates in that constituency lose their deposits. If such a candidate wants to again participate in the by-elections, his party will have to bear pro-rata cost of the election. That will solve the cost questions that are always raised. This is for all elections – from Gram Panchayat to Lok Sabha. Once the people know that their vote now really counts, watch the turnover at the polls. We can also progress to voting on the net or even mobile booths. This will solve the inertia problem that now exists and which netas want to continue by making it cumbersome to vote. The idea is to bring the polls to the people and not make people to go to the polls. Once there are a billion Lokpals such a system will be very difficult and costly to subvert – power will be in the hands of the people. The apex Lokpal will have fewer complaints.

It is perhaps the power that NOTA can wield that is making politicians and even the media, which is part of the establishment mafia, keep peculiarly silent on this issue.