As election time is again round the corner, our minds are filled with curiosity and excitement as to what will ensue and unfold in the aftermath of the grand event or festival of democracy. We Indians are privileged to be part of the largest democracy to which the whole world looks up with so much admiration and awe. We are proud to be part of such a large subcontinent of great diversity and contrasts where people of varied castes, creeds, religions, colours, languages, tribes, and communities live together in peace, harmony and tolerance. India has been a peaceful and tolerant country and we are hopeful it will continue to be that way in the years to come. India is a land where Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and a thousand other minorities are thriving, flourishing and professing their religions, creeds and sects peacefully for hundreds of years. Once at a job interview, I was asked as to whether there is intolerance in India. I answered there might be stray cases of intolerance here and there, but overall, India is a tolerant country and intolerance is not prevalent. The spirit of secular democracy has to be continually cherished and promoted and we should show to the world that we are the model of unity in diversity and elections should be held without the interference any religious and racial grudges, freely and fairly. Religion, indeed, should not be allowed to play any vicious role in election process. Our main enemy is corruption, poverty, unemployment and unequal regional developments.
Northeast is one region of this mighty nation, which is believed to be lagging behind the rest of India in terms of development and connectivity. During the last five years, a lot of development and progress have been made despite the complaints and criticisms against somewhat sudden implementation of policies, programs and exercises such as demonetisation, GST, CAB etc that brought about some hardship and consternation to the people. The ordeal of demonetisation and GST seem to have been gradually overcome despite some scathing negative criticisms and condemnations that were churned in view of the hardship and inconveniences that accompanied the new economic exercises that were intended to bring about positive results. There has also been a lot of hullabaloo about the rise of religious intolerance resulting in the weakening of secularism in the country. The most recent uproar and indignation has been engendered by the attempt to introduce and implement the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). Particularly, the people of the Northeast rose in protest against the bill, which was feared to generate demographic imbalance with the influx of millions of immigrants from the neighbouring countries. For the time being, the issue seems to have been put in cold storage but likely to be resurrected if the opportunity arises again in the future. The implementation of the bill may not have been thought to have much of an impact on the overall population of the country as India is bound to be the country with largest population. But the bill poses as a nightmare for the people of Northeast India where the brunt of illegal population influx had already been unmistakably experienced, particularly in states like Assam and Tripura.
There has also been a good deal of uproars against the rise of religious intolerance. The cow issue had been one that caused so much uneasiness in the minds of minority people for whom meat or beef forms integral part of their food culture. The issue seemed to eclipse for some time other more pressing issues like corruption and unemployment. India, with huge percentage of its population constituted by the youth, the problem of unemployment aggravated by rampant corruption that has been flourishing for quite a long time now continue to play havoc with the lives of its hundreds of millions of youth. These two unwanted phenomena indeed need to be given serious attention if we are to bring about a prosperous and welfare society. It has been sad that such vital issues seem to have been relegated to take the backseat. Corruption, development and unemployment continue to be the main issues that need to be focussed upon and tackled properly. There are also number of other developments and events that are likely to assume contentious election issues. The immediate withdrawal of the notification giving protection to Assam Rifles to arrest suspects without warrant has averted another public uproar. The Northeast indeed is one very sensitive and trouble-ridden region, which needs careful and caring handling in order to avert untoward social upheavals that will have serious political ramifications.
Corruption is one that needs to be curbed through long and short-term measures. Presently, people are still unsure whether this hydra-headed monster has been satisfactorily contained or not as the malady has turned chronic and its eradication is going to take enormous grit and guts. It will take serious and sincere contemplation on the parts of social thinkers and lawmakers to find the ways and measures to wipe it out effectively or at least to satisfactorily ameliorate its evil effects on the society through constant vigil and action. It is sad that now and then public unrest and uneasiness have been engendered due to sudden introduction of bills and notifications, which the people feel will have detrimental consequences and place them in vulnerable position rather than helping them.
Election time is the time when people or electorate are supposed to be busy mulling about the pressing issues, and make their thoughtful judgements and decisions and exercise their democratic rights given by the constitution of the country. This is the time for them to do serious retrospection and decide whom they should choose to be their worthy representatives without allowing money to come in between and play the diluting role.