As I scrolled through some Facebook updates last week, I saw a note shared by my friend. It talked about a Political Action Internship by Prof Rajeev Gowda, an eminent personality who teaches at IIM Bangalore. I read through the note and it interested me.
This turned out to be a great workshop covering some topics and uncovering many others. There were DDDs (deep diving discussions) on a bunch of topics relating to politics, marketing, campaigns, voters, democracy, nation, media, advertising, etc.
We were storming our brains from 9am to 4pm on a Saturday and it was a great experience, culminating with the BPAC march at Kanteerava Stadium.
We had an introductory session and interaction with Shantinagar MLA, N A Haris. This enabled us to understand how a people’s representative’s life is devoted to public.
There was another interesting session with Prof James Manor, University of London, who has studied Karnataka politics for the past 40 years. He narrated the history of Karnataka politics for the last 40 years, starting from the Congress rule, dawn of the Janatha party and its rule. He termed Karnataka voters as ‘highly sophisticated’. He substantiated this by explaining the defeat tasted by the Congress party in 1985, while political analysts expected a wave of sympathy to sweep the votes for Congress in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
He also described the dawn of coalition era in India and the resultant spread of power among various parties. He said that Yeddyurappa tried to dominate the party but people in his own party challenged him. “So, Karnataka has been a very intelligent state in politics,” he remarked again.
Prof James Manor put forth another view. “Money doesn’t buy votes in India. Indian voters take all gifts and vote for the one they want to. But then, money helped in buying the leaders. This time, all parties are having enough money and this will be a real test.” He added that in Bangalore, people are disgusted with all the problems; but the future will be decided by whether they go to vote or sit at home.
Prof Rajeev Gowda argued that the election spending should be made legal so that there is no misuse of money and thus black money doesn’t thrive in the economy.
Anand Adkoli, who worked with Rahul Gandhi on revamp the participation of youth in politics, shared his experience. He said he is working mainly on two ideas to change the face of politics – idea of being open and idea of voice. “Politics today is a closed system. Nobody knows the path to politics. We have to make it open and then people will come in. There is no need to motivate anyone. Just open the doors,” he added.
At 4pm, we moved to Kanteerava stadium to join the BPAC March.
The second day of the workshop began with a discussion about the B.PAC march. Some felt that it was a great way to ask people to vote. A few people felt that, though the cause was good, it did not address much as the participation was very limited. There were groups of people attending from various organisations like Manipal, Axis Bank, IT cos, etc., but the public participation was missing. However, event was well-organised and had a great theme and message.
There were talks by V Ravichandar on urban renewal, and by Harish Narasappa of Daksh India on the 3Ps – politics, perceptions, participation. K A Srinivasan, Co Founder, Amagi, spoke about political advertising. Maya Chandra spoke on political communication, role of messengers and more.
Overall, I felt the youth and the educated have to come forward and only then, the electoral process will have its real meaning. Unless we all include ourselves in the governance system in one way or the other, the least we could do is by exercising our right to vote. The internship further looks forward to meet people, communities and groups. India has one of the best election processes and there are many nations trying to duplicate it. But then, we are failing the system by not abiding by it. I want to tell everyone that here is one opportunity, which comes once in five years, and there is no harm in making use of it. Knock! Knock! Please Vote.⊕