The Great Indian Election

Over 700 million voters – more than the total population of the US and more than the combined population of France, UK, Germany and Holland (so I’ve read). Probably 60%  will cast their vote.  All the booths have Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), this sounds simple. Yet it is mind boggling, not just because of sheer numbers. Some booths are located in the boondocks. Officials can reach them only on foot or on mule and horse back.  The EVM – similar to a vertical key board in shape – has to cater to a large section of illiterate voters. Each candidate’s picture, his party symbol and name have to be reflected. I heard that they were also braille friendly, though I’m not sure they were. The number of candidates was also mind boggling. The choice was between 36 worthies in my constituency. This meant three EVMs on display.

There was also the problem of  choosing a candidate. The process finally become one of selecting the lesser evil.  Recall Harb’s thesis on choosing the correct person. Uunfortunately what does one do when there is no right choice/person?  Till last night I was undecided and we had a sort of family conclave to sort out our minds.

The voters too come in all shapes and sizes. From the youthful, bouncy, energetic first timers to the old ancients, equally enthusiastic, some even being carried into the booth in the arms and shoulders  of their family.

Thanks to the ‘international migraine’  infecting our neighbourhood,    terrorism is the biggest concern. Forces  have to be shifted from area to area. The voting process is spread over almost 45 days and  is being conducted in three phases. To-day was the second one. The final results will be out only in mid – May.

Yet at the end of the day one feels dwarfed by the enormity of this whole exercise and I certainly feel a part of  the process.   One little speck out of 700 million others. Yet, I had a voice, if only for a few minutes.

That is the bottom line



Card models

Château de Belcayre on the Vézère River, by Ed Alcock for The New York Times, copyright 2008 The New York Times, all rights reservedThis pic of Chateau de Belcayre on the France’s Vezere River is the first in a slideshow from a travel article about canoeing in the lovely Dordogne Valley region of France by Christopher Shaw*, in today’s (click on the pic to see it full-sized).

When I saw it, I suddenly recalled when my son and I used to assemble card models of Loire Valley chateaux in some of our scanty spare time.  We did Chamont, Chambord and Chenonceau.  My son was four or five when this started.   It’s kind of amazing that we did it.  Chenonceau was hard!

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